There has been talk this past week from island leaders, and the MSPs in Orkney and Shetland, of localised restrictions for the islands when it comes to Covid-19. [Islands MSPs on a Localised Approach to #Covid19]
However, while cases in Orkney and Shetland may be few just now, we’ve seen a resurgence of the virus throughout the country, including the Highlands & Islands. Such a rise means we have to act to interrupt the spread, which unfortunately involves giving up on some of our hard-won freedoms. There is currently a ban on indoor household visits and a 10pm curfew on all bars and restaurants throughout Scotland. These are without doubt some of the hardest measures to come into force since we went into lockdown back in March, but they are absolutely necessary to help suppress the spread of the virus, and stricter ones may be necessary.
I think the recent outbreak in the Western Isles illustrates how quickly the virus can spread and these outbreaks are surely more likely if we let our guard down.
There are naturally limited opportunities for the virus to be introduced to island communities, but the borders are not closed. Once introduced the virus can spread rapidly.
I have noted the concern raised by NHS chief executive in Orkney and Shetland, Michael Dickson about the way the island councils called for easing of restrictions without consulting the local health authorities.
I’m pleased to see the Scottish Government listening to the unique needs of our island communities. With a rapidly evolving threat like Covid-19, it’s vital we all work together to ensure our health and wellbeing.
As we make our way through the next few weeks, the FACTS help us remember the key measures we need to comply with:
- Face coverings in enclosed spaces
- Avoid crowded places
- Clean hands and surfaces regularly
- Two-metre distancing
- Self-isolate and book a test if you have symptom
While the pandemic has been to the fore in the minds of us all, government work continues in other important areas, and I was pleased this week to help unveil the new Secure Care Pathway and Standards Scotland.
These new national standards for secure care set out what support children should expect from professionals when in the community or secure care.
Going into care is distressing. Some children will not be able to show their feelings or to talk about what they are going through. That is why it is important that we have systems in place that make transitions less traumatic.
The standards are fully co-produced by young people living in secure care and those with care experience and are written from the child’s perspective to ensure young people’s voices are heard, their rights are adhered to and they are treated with respect.
The standards reinforce our commitment to the Scottish Government’s Getting it Right for Every Child policy, supporting the incorporation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the important asks of the Independent Care Review Promise published earlier this year.
Stay strong folks.
This is a regular column by SNP MSP Maree Todd. All list MSPs in the Highlands and Islands have been offered the same space in The Orkney News to share their personal views.