Donegal County Council continues to keep up to date on the state of the COVID-19 situation as it affects the County.
The Council has a role as a Local Authority for its citizens, communities and businesses. We are also a major employer with over one thousand staff in addition to a retained Fire Service of around one hundred and sixty. We are also an organisation that spends close to €250 million each year, much of which is local, that many local businesses and families depend on. It is against this background and taking into consideration the needs of employees, the community and businesses that the Council has prepared its Business Continuity Plan. That plan is being kept under review and will be amended as necessary as the COVID-19 situation evolves.
The Council is not expert in this field and is relying on the best information being made available through the Medical Experts. We regularly review and assess the updates being made and make judgements and decisions based on the best advice available.
The Council provide many services to the County and its citizens such as social housing, road services, fire and emergency services, planning, water services (as an agent to Irish Water), economic development and community/social services among others. These services are necessary for the running of the County and routinely bring the Council into contact with many people and workplaces. The Council is in a position currently to maintain a full service across all its delivery units. All our expenditure plans are continuing and our workforce and those companies we have employed for supplies and services continue as planned. Our Business Continuity Plan has considered, in a broad way, how certain services could be curtailed in the event of an escalation of a pandemic while at the same time maintaining the vital essential services that must be provided to the citizens. Any decision, that might become necessary, to activate a curtailment of service would be taken in a considered way and making use of the best advice that is available nationally.
Naturally at this time, the Council and our citizens are both concerned and at a state of heightened awareness of the unknown level the outbreak will reach over the coming period of time before it abates. The Council is itself, and encourages its citizens to take as many of the identified and fundamental precautions and measures as possible such as:
· Regular and longer than usual hand washing;
· Avoid contacting face with hands;
· Avoid hand shaking;
· Sneeze into your elbow;
· Limit unnecessary gatherings;
· Use phone, computer system or the like to contact customers as much as possible;
· Self declare and self isolate if you have the symptoms, or have been to an affected Country or region or have come into contact with someone who has the virus;
· Think about the particular needs of older/vulnerable/isolated people and endeavour to provide help and assistance where required
The Council is in contact with our government departments and national bodies. It is anticipated that guidance in relation to the Council’s statutory roles and functions might be required to accommodate the needs in an environment where the outbreak rises to a certain stage.
The Council recognises that our business community could be facing a challenging period ahead. Our County and economy relies on a significant boost at this time of year and throughout the summer from visitors and tourism. It is not known at this time how that will turn out. The Council has a history of working with its commercial businesses in a way that helps them overcome periods of difficulty and it will do so again if that need arises. In that regard, the Council understands that it is important for the Council to maintain it’s spend in the community throughout this period and the Council will make every effort to do that.
The Council will be keeping up to date on the emerging situation on COVID-19 and will make every effort to be as helpful as possible as we all work through what is likely to be a challenging period. It is important for every citizen to also take the individual steps that they too can take to help work through and succeed in overcoming this period.