The Covid-19 pandemic is regularly described as being a unique emergency with unprecedented impacts on every aspect of our lives. Seeking to “recover” from these impacts present individuals, families, whole communities and populations with difficult choices. As in any emergency those with the personal resilience, skills and resources to react and recover do so by taking stock, adapting, resetting and moving on. Those who are not fortunate to have these skills or lack the personal, economic and social networks to get through are those who suffer the most from the impacts of any negative event in their lives.
As the community leader for the Isle of Wight, the Council carries a particular responsibility to respond and then help the population recover from the traumatic events such as those caused by the pandemic. In discharging its statutory caring responsibilities, in particular, it must ensure any recovery from the effects of the crisis be they economic, social or environmental are carefully considered and prioritised and actioned, along with other partners – to enable “A Better Island”.
The range of actions necessary to enable successful recovery and the time these will take to implement and bear fruit are the subject of this Island Recovery Plan. The plan moves beyond an immediate recovery period which began in May 2020 and has lasted up to September 2020 to considering medium term recovery up to the end March 2022. It is likely the consideration of whether we have recovered and what actions we need to continue to take to ensure impacts are fully addressed will need attention beyond this period and be an issue for us to consider for many years ahead.
The nature of the current emergency means any recovery is conditional on an effective management of the continued risk of infection and the potential for a renewed emergency response requiring the type of measures taken in the first wave of the pandemic. Recovering from the impacts must take place in parallel with and be sensitive to maintaining a continued vigilance to respond to any serious resurgence of cases.
The Council as an employer, delivering of a wide variety of services would as an organisation like any other rightly plan for its own recovery and adapt what it does in the future to take account of recent events. In addition, the Council must consider the recovery of the Island as a whole, building on the fantastic response of the Island, as a whole community, to minimising deaths, harm and negative impacts during the first wave of the pandemic.
Terms such as returning to “business as usual” or adopting “a new normal” while understandable are not helpful when considering the Covid-19 pandemic. All the plans we had to improve our Island, tackle our challenges and make lives better now need to be “sense checked” in some cases these will have gained an increased significance and any original actions may need to be enhanced or accelerated, in other cases the impact of the pandemic may require a significant rethink before resetting the course to take. This recovery plan sets out those key actions, existing or new, that will be key to a successful recovery, who will be involved in delivering them, crucially, how they might be resourced and how we might measure the progress we make.