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OLECG members urge caution as restrictions ease

Members of the Orkney Local Emergency Coordination Group (OLECG) who met today, Wednesday, have sounded a note of caution following the Scottish Government announcement of a further easing of the COVID rules.

While welcoming the relaxation, representatives of the group maintain it is vital to keep a “steady as we go” approach and have asked communities across Orkney to remain vigilant.

Chair of OLECG, Orkney’s area commander for Police Scotland, chief inspector Ali Garrow, said: “It is important that we do not take our eye off the ball here in Orkney and for people not to become complacent given the further relaxation of rules.

“As has been witnessed in the past Orkney is often behind the times in terms of how the virus spreads and waves have arrived on our doorstep later than in other areas. We need to be careful that the national messaging, which currently sits well within larger city areas, does not impact negatively here.

“The simple solution is for everyone to maintain the good practices in place that have kept many of us safe to this point. They include the wearing of masks, distancing, sanitising and keeping up the regular lateral flow testing and logging the results online whether positive or negative which help our colleagues in Public Health keep on top of potential community transmission.”

The Scottish Government has announced new guidance on working from home will come into effect on Monday, January 31.

This will recommend that employers consider a hybrid working system, with staff spending some time in the office and some time at home.

Businesses had previously been asked to enable staff to work from home where possible.

The requirement for physical distancing in settings where certain people are exempt from wearing face coverings – like those leading religious services or carrying out some receptionist duties – will be reduced from 2m to 1m from January 31.

Face coverings will no longer be required for any adult taking part in organised activities with children under the age of five.

OLECG vice-chair and the council’s interim executive director of environmental, property & IT services, Hayley Green, said: “Our business continuity plans are holding up but there remains a fragility and we do not want to react in a manner that could potentially risk services, particularly frontline essential services, by implementing change too quickly – we must maintain a steady as we go approach. We do not expect any significant changes in the meantime in terms of how we are operating.

“We will consider the new guidance carefully and make decisions based on the safety of all and the resilience of our operations.”