In the last month we were aware West Dunbartonshire’s Covid infection rates were at one point the highest in Scotland.

This was just before the universities returned and devastatingly, cities were hit particularly bad. My fellow Labour councillors and I formally requested a special council meeting to hear a full report from the Chief Executive on all aspects of the local response.

The meeting discussed the availability of testing for local residents and we called for a local permanent testing centre for our area. While I would prefer this to be situated in Dumbarton to replace the current temporary mobile unit that can be deployed elsewhere if required, we have been successful in ensuring Napier Hall in Old Kilpatrick will operate a permanent testing site. The facility is now open and appointments at the centre will be available seven days per week, between 8am and 8pm.

While West Dunbartonshire may not currently have the highest levels of infection, we are acutely aware the central belt of Scotland infections rates are growing daily and we are now seeing hospital admissions rising. As a result, infection rates could reach the levels of earlier this year by the end of October.

Our hospitality sector is a major employer and many staff will be on zero hour contracts who may not have been covered by the Furlough scheme during the earlier lockdown.
There are many pubs, restaurants and hotels locally who are just struggling to survive. Sadly this may be a closure notice for some. Clearly, I do not have access to the scientific evidence and therefore I will not criticise any decision to protect public health.

However, from my own observations while enjoying a meal and a drink in Dumbarton in recent weeks. I can only see managers and staff enforcing social distancing. I have felt perfectly safe throughout. If there are establishments that do not enforce such measures, perhaps they should have been closed down earlier. I do hope these staff will be back at work soon. Sadly though, a second national lockdown now seems inevitable and required as cases throughout the UK continue to rise every day.

This is going to be an extremely difficult winter and hopefully a vaccine will be available sooner rather than later.