Access to care homes in Borders to be restricted and public toilets shut as council chiefs try to curb spread of coronavirus

Access to care homes is to be restricted and public toilets are to be closed across the Borders as part of the latest raft of measures announced by council chiefs in a bid to keep the spread of coronavirus through the region under control.

All Scottish Borders Council meetings are being cancelled until further notice.
All Scottish Borders Council meetings are being cancelled until further notice.

All Scottish Borders Council meetings are to be cancelled until further notice too, beginning with one lined up for its executive committee at 10am today, March 17.

Schools across the region will remain open, however, in line with guidance from the Scottish Government, although all school trips are being scrapped.

Borderers are also being to stay at home as much as possible and avoid unnecessary social contact, and extra stress is being put on that message for those over the age of 70 and anyone with exisiting health issues as they are more vulnerable to the illness, known as Covid-19.

All schools remain open in line with national guidance. All residential trips will be cancelled. This includes trips planned within the UK. All day trips to places such as attractions, theatres and venues will also no longer be taking place.

Access to council-run care homes is now being limited to one nominated family member per resident to reduce the risk of infection and anyone showing any symptoms of coronavirus is being urged to stay away.

“If this person become unwell at all, they are asked not to attend the care home,” said a council spokesperson.

“We are also working with families to look at alternative ways of maintaining contact, whether that is through use of mobile phones or other digital devices.”

Towns with multiple public conveniences are to have all but one of them shut so council staff can focus their resources on keeping the one to stay open clean and stocked with toilet water and soap.

That move follows public toilets in the region being vandalised and having soap dispensers and toilet roll stolen from them.

“A decision has been made to leave one public toilet open to use in each town which has more than one facility. The other public toilets in the town will be temporarily closed,” said the council spokesperson.

“This decision will aim to ensure our staff can maintain these facilities more frequently, consolidate resources and allow the public to still have access to soap and water to wash their hands when out and about in the community, in line with public health advice.

“Following a small number of public toilets being vandalised at the weekend, which resulted in soap dispensers and toilet rolls being taken, we would ask all residents to please respect the Borders’ public toilets to allow other members of the community to continue to use them.”

Towns and villages with only one set of public toilets will be unaffected.

Those remaining open in towns with multiple toilets are the ones at Galashiels transport interchange, Hawick’s Common Haugh, Jedburgh tourist information centre, Horsemarket in Kelso, Abbey Place in Melrose, Kingsmeadows in Peebles, Selkirk Market Place and Eyemouth’s Harbour Road.

Council chief executive Tracey Logan, said: “This is a difficult situation that changes on a daily basis, but I would again like to reassure residents that our priority is the health and wellbeing of Borderers.

“We ask that you follow the national guidance and look to minimise social contact by avoiding crowded areas and large gatherings.

“We’ve had to make some difficult decisions such as cancelling school trips and limiting our public toilet provision, but everything we do is aimed at helping to mitigate the impact of coronavirus as much as possible.

“We will continue to make decisions in respect of the council’s services and any other community matters in light of guidance provided at a Scottish and UK level.

“I would encourage everyone to play your part as much as possible and help members of the community.

“We will be speaking to resilient communities groups across the Borders to see how they can help to co-ordinate these efforts, by arranging for vulnerable neighbours to be contacted and assist with things like shopping and picking up medicines for those who aren’t able to leave the house.”

Updates on coronavirus and the council’s response to it are available at www.scotborders.gov.uk/coronavirus