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Message from Cllr Iain Malcolm, Leader of the Council - 20 March 2020

This is undoubtedly a worrying and distressing for everyone and we'd like to reassure you that we are doing everything we can to support you and minimise the impact this virus is having on our communities.

This is an unprecedented, fast-moving situation and we are reacting to each development as quickly as we can.

The Prime Minister has made further announcements this afternoon and we are working through the detail to understand what this means for our residents, businesses and staff.

Like you, we are trying to negotiate our way through this challenging and rapidly-changing situation, and we appreciate your understanding and patience as we prioritise our resources to ensure that those most in need continue to get all necessary support. Rest assured though, keeping our communities safe, caring for residents and trying to protect our local economy are our priorities.

We are continuing to deliver essential frontline services and are adapting our workforce and working practices to be as flexible as possible. However, there is inevitably disruption to some services as resources become increasingly stretched.

As you know, schools will shut from today until further notice, except for vulnerable children and the children of key workers. This will obviously have a huge impact on our everyday lives and there is still finer detail to be worked out, but I know our communities will rally to support each other and make the best of this extremely difficult situation.

Nexus has lifted travel restrictions on its concessions for senior citizens and people with some disabilities, meaning they can now travel on the buses, Metro and Shields Ferry before 9.30am to take advantage of the elderly-only trading hour introduced by supermarkets.

This is the biggest public health crisis in our lifetimes, but I am proud and heartened by the community spirit that has seen residents, businesses and volunteers pull together to ensure that no one in our borough gets left behind.

We urge people to continue checking our social media channels and the Council's website for regular updates. However, we would ask people to support us by only contacting us in an emergency.

Information on the services affected is available at Coronavirus (COVID-19) or follow on social media at facebook.com/STynesideCouncil.

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