Email below received from the Highland Council 17th March.

Dear Community Council

RE: Coronavirus COVID 19 advice and guidance

I appreciate that a many of you may have questions relating to the developing picture around COVID 19 and how you as a Community Council should respond.  The Council has been working closely with its partners to prepare for how best to respond to coronavirus. In this we have been following national advice and guidelines.

The picture is rapidly changing.  The Council has taken the decision to suspend all non essential staff travel and also any planned public meetings and engagement sessions for the foreseeable future to support the national efforts to delay the spread of Coronavirus and to enable staff to focus on core activity to support our ongoing response.  The focus is now on the delivery of essential and statutory services and this includes caring for our most vulnerable people.

We have received queries from some of you asking for advice and guidance on how Community Councils should respond.  In terms of your meetings, based upon the latest advice released by government yesterday, unnecessary social contact should be minimised and people should avoid gatherings.  We would therefore recommend that you do not meet together as a Community Council.
You may wish to consider meeting virtually through Skype (some rural Community Councils already do this), particularly if you have essential business to discuss.  If you choose to do this, please continue to minute any decisions.

Should you have any events or activities planned in the coming weeks that would be likely to attract a larger group of people together, then we would suggest you consider postponing these.

A number of you have also contacted us regarding how you can be of help within your local community and prepare to support vulnerable individuals who are having to self-isolate.   Arrangements are currently being made to co-ordinate local voluntary activity and we will be in touch with further details for your community shortly.  We appreciate all of these offers but we want to ensure that all effort is co-ordinated effectively to ensure that we keep volunteers and communities safe. Without proper coordination, there could be inadvertent spread of the virus to vulnerable groups. 

In the meantime, the British Red Cross Community Reserve Volunteer service supports volunteering within the local community and anybody who is interested can sign up at  redcross.org.uk/reserves

We will continue to share information with you as the picture changes and any national advice changes.  We will also be in touch regarding local resilience arrangement.

Should you have any immediate queries or offers of support, please get in touch through the policy mailbox (policy6@highland.gov.uk) or through your Ward Manager.

Best wishes

Alison

Alison Clark
Head of Policy
Highland