This is a critical stage in the course of this pandemic.

It’s important that each nation of the UK continues working together while still doing what’s right in each country based on medical and scientific data.

As lockdown begins to ease slightly in England, it will be tempting to follow suit, but moving too quickly will cost lives.

The council will continue to follow the Scottish Government’s lead, as we plan for the gradual return of services in a way that’s safe for the public and our staff.

I’ve met with the trade unions and senior management and I’m pleased to say that they are working constructively to facilitate this safe return of services.

We are already seeing the gradual return of normal refuse collections, and agreement was reached between all 32 councils on Friday last week to start reopening our municipal waste and recycling centres from June 1; keep an eye on local press and council social media for details nearer the time.

I’ve had several video/voice calls with Scottish Government ministers where schools have been discussed.

I’m pleased to say that ministers agree with me, that we must be cautious in our approach to reopening schools, and that when this does eventually happen, it should be done in partnership with councils using the knowledge of local education professionals to enable the safe phased return of pupils.

Teachers have done an amazing job educating pupils from home, and trade unions have been really proactive in working with management to resolve any issues and to plan for the future.

A big thank you to everyone out there doing their best to help our community through this crisis.

On my recent call with the divisional commander, he told me that reports of domestic abuse are less than he would expect to see.

Ending the scourge of domestic abuse in our communities and supporting survivors is a priority of the council, and I share his concern that people seem reluctant to call the police at this time.

There are a host of wonderful organisations out there doing truly life-saving work in our communities, but the commander and I are keen to stress that the police are still there for those who need them.

If you feel unsafe and you need help, do not hesitate; call 101 to speak to the police or dial 999 in an emergency.

Your safety and wellbeing are important and coronavirus should not stop you from seeking help.