Haddington and District Community Council have received an update from East Lothian Council on coronavirus, the current lockdown and ongoing resiliency efforts In the aftermath of the First Minister’s announcement. East Lothian Council issued an initial public statement highlighting the key points, with quotes from the Depute Leader. You can read the full statement here.
The confirmation of vaccines being approved and their subsequent rollout is a huge positive step in the right direction which can help society move to a less restrictive way of life in the months ahead. In the meantime, as highlighted on Monday, January 4th in Parliament by the First Minister, the virus continues to present a very significant risk to public health. A new strain of the virus, together with a steeply rising trend of infections across the country, is causing significant concern. In that context, mainland Scotland, including East Lothian, has moved from COVID-19 Protection Level 4 to a temporary lockdown which will be in place for at least the rest of January. This is aimed at protecting the NHS and curbing the spread of the virus.
It is only permissible to leave home for a purpose such as work which cannot be done from home, caring responsibilities, essential shopping, exercise and being part of an extended household.
The Scottish Government’s clear advice is that people in the shielding category who cannot work from home should not go into work at all and should work from home if possible – the Chief Medical Officer is writing afresh to everyone who now falls into this category. Full shielding is not being advised in Scotland at this time. Instead, those in the shielding category can still access essential food shops and are encouraged to exercise outdoors where possible. We are aware that many will have support from family, friends and neighbours but anyone who does require extra support can call the council’s dedicated helpline on 01875 824300. Extra advice can be found on the Scottish Government website.
Support for our communities and vulnerable residents
The support provided by our wonderful local Community Resilience Groups to the most vulnerable in our communities during the first lockdown early in 2020 cannot be underestimated. They were a lifeline to many.
However, as there is more support in place now than in March last year, we are not asking the resilience groups to start operating again at this time. We will continue to monitor demand for support and any changes in government guidelines and we will be in touch if this position changes.
Many of our community volunteers continue to provide informal ‘good neighbour’ support which is really valuable in helping reduce loneliness and isolation during this difficult time.
Help for those who are self-isolating for any reason is available on the ELC website and includes:
- Self-isolation support grants
- Other financial support for individuals and businesses
- Access to emergency community food provision
- Warm clothing grants
- Crisis grants
- Winter fuel grants
- Mental health support
- Befriending via the Royal Voluntary Service
- Digital support
Exercise and gatherings
Unlike the lockdown last year, the frequency of outdoor exercise is not being limited. However, the rule on outdoor gatherings has changed. Up to six people from two households were previously able to meet outdoors. Given the greater transmissibility of the new variant of the virus, gatherings are now limited to a maximum of two people from up to two households being able to meet outdoors.
Children aged 12 and under will not be counted in that limit, and they will also be able to play outdoors in larger groups, including in organised gatherings. However, for everyone else – including 12 to 17 year olds – outdoor exercise should only take place in a way which is consistent with the two people from two households rule.
Strict travel restrictions remain in place across Scotland. People living in East Lothian cannot leave home except for an essential purpose. When you do go out, stay as close to home as possible (within 5 miles recommended) and stay away from crowded places.
No-one is allowed to travel into or out of Scotland unless it is for an essential purpose.
Other key points
Places of worship will be closed during this period for all purposes except broadcasting a service or conducting a funeral, wedding or civil partnership.
While up to 20 people will still be able to attend funeral services, wakes will not be possible during January. And a maximum of five people will be able to attend a wedding and civil partnership services.
More information is available on our dedicated coronavirus page