Brief from the Chief: An update on COVID-19 - 18 March
Wed, 18 Mar 2020

Dear colleagues

Thank you to everyone for your individual and collective response to the COVID-19 challenge so far.

As I said on Monday, the council has been extensively planning its response to the pandemic, along with our partners, for some time and a number of measures have already been actioned to help us support our local communities and keep delivering services to the best of our abilities.

The council is very experienced and proficient at handling civil emergencies but COVID-19 presents a new and different challenge on an unprecedented scale for us.

Another aspect of the challenge is the rapidly-changing nature of the situation and the UK Government and Public Health England's evolving response to it, which guides how we and other councils act.

Guidance and communication can quickly become out of date and so we have to not only be extremely resilient over the coming days, weeks and months but also extremely flexible.

We have to be flexible in terms of how we operate; for example how we prioritise services and carry out work, how we deploy staff and how we respond to customer demand and changing circumstances.

The Corporate Management Team is now meeting daily, at 8am, to assess the latest Government announcements and to plan our activity accordingly.

Some key areas of focus include adult social care, our community response, service delivery changes, the local economy and the impact on our workforce however our planning and responses covers all aspects of the council's work.

We are taking action across all services, to follow Government advice and to pro-actively refocus resource where it will be most needed.

Some services have already had to make the difficult decision to close facilities or reduce their operations. Other services are activating contingency plans for increased demand.

We may need to ask staff to fulfil different duties if the need arises but I am confident that, if and when asked, you will rise to that challenge.

I appreciate you have many questions and concerns about how you, your work, your teams and the council will be affected by the ongoing COVID-19 response and we are trying to address these in the COVID-19 FAQs which are on the intranet (and which are also available from managers for those staff without network access).

We will try to keep these FAQs as up to date as possible, to reflect Government guidance and directives.

There is also a dedicated page on the council's website which is being used to collate COVID-19 related information for the public. It is easily accessible from the home page by clicking on the COVID-19 banner at the top.

Please keep the Corporate Communications team informed of any changes to service delivery which needs to be communicated with the public. You can do so by emailing pressoffice@eastriding.gov.uk

As well as the website, COVID-19 news and service changes are being shared with the public via the media, our social media channels and in various other ways.

It's important that we keep the information flowing to the public but to do so in a consistent manner that is in line with Public Health England guidance.

Can you all please ensure that your information on the intranet phonebook is up to date, particularly your contact details, and include mobile numbers if you have a work phone, use a personal phone for work purposes or are happy to share your personal phone details anyway.

A global email has been sent out which explains how to update your entry on the intranet phonebook.

The council will be playing a role in the community and voluntary response to COVID-19 and we have a project team which is starting to look at how that role can work.

We may ask staff at some point to support any community and voluntary activity and I will provide more details about that in a future update.

We will also be doing our best to support the business community and again I will provide more information about that in the days to come.

We are expecting a Government announcement about schools and other education providers later this afternoon and there will be more information about this from me tomorrow.

Finally, the council's approach continues to be proportionate, flexible and evidence-based and I ask you to also be as flexible as possible in how you support our efforts to in turn support our local communities, in particular those who need us most.

We will do our utmost to protect the most vulnerable members of our society and prioritise essential and high-priority services and your help in achieving that is hugely appreciated.

Thank you.


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