School assemblies axed, council employees will work from home and care home residents fed in own room as coronavirus pandemic escalates

The council have also issued their advice on best ways to avoid spreading coronavirus
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School assemblies will be axed and care home residents will be fed in their own rooms under new guidelines set out by Edinburgh City Council, as the fight against the coronavirus pandemic intensifies.

Council office employees will also work from home and the recess period will now begin on Friday, March 20 rather than March 30 and will last until April 27.

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It comes after Scotland’s total number of positive coronavirus cases rose to 171 on Monday, with 29 confirmed cases in the Lothian region.

Coronavirus in Edinburgh: School assemblies will be axed and council employees working from home as pandemic escalatesCoronavirus in Edinburgh: School assemblies will be axed and council employees working from home as pandemic escalates
Coronavirus in Edinburgh: School assemblies will be axed and council employees working from home as pandemic escalates

Care home residents will now take meals in their rooms instead of in communal dining rooms, while day centres will be closed.

The measures come days after the Council announced emergency funding of £2 million to support Edinburgh's response to the pandemic.

In schools, assemblies, large gatherings and team meetings will be stopped, unless absolutely essential.

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Council employees in office-based jobs working from home will be introduced on a phased approach in the coming days, with no attendance at events and only essential external and internal meetings.

In terms of official Council committee business, the recess period will now begin from Friday 20 March rather than 30 March and will last until 27 April. Any urgent decisions during this recess will be made by the Council Leadership Forum (a formal committee of group leaders of each political grouping on the Council, chaired by the Council Leader).

The council also issued these tips for reducing the risk of getting and spreading the infection:

– avoiding direct hand contact with your eyes, nose and mouth

– maintaining good hand hygiene

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- – avoiding direct contact with people that have a respiratory illness and avoiding using their personal items such as their mobile phone

– covering their nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing with disposable tissues and disposing of them in the nearest waste bin after use

– Wash hands with soap and water or alcohol hand sanitiser before eating and drinking, and after coughing, sneezing and going to the toilet.

Council Leader Adam McVey said: “These are very challenging times and I know people are justifiably anxious about what's ahead of us. As a Council, we're determined to do everything we can to protect our communities, especially those in our care and throughout Edinburgh who are most vulnerable.

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“These measures will help safeguard those most at risk by minimising the spread of the virus through social contact. We'll continue to work closely with the Scottish Government, NHS Lothian and all our partners to respond as swiftly and impactfully as we can to this fast-changing situation. We've got incredible community spirit in this city and we're already hearing some inspiring stories of big-hearted residents rallying to support the most vulnerable. There are many ways you can help and our advice right now is act locally.

“Phone your neighbours, offer to collect a prescription, take their bins out or pick up some shopping. Small but meaningful gestures can help us pull together as a city as we get through this by looking out for one another.”

Depute Leader Cammy Day said: “Maintaining services in the midst of this worsening outbreak is a serious challenge but we are working extremely hard to keep Edinburgh functioning as best it can, with a focus on our duty of care to those most in need.

“Our employees' safety and wellbeing are critical and we're rolling out contingency plans such as working from home and limiting meetings so that we can reduce the risks to our workforce as much as possible. I'd like to thank all the Council teams who've already worked day and night for many weeks to deal with this and ensure Edinburgh's as ready as it can be for what's to come - they're doing a tremendous job in very difficult circumstances.”

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The Evening News has a launched a new Facebook group aimed at bringing the community together during these difficult time. The new group – which can be found HERE – is the perfect [place to share your stories of communities joining together.