COVID likely to impact local public services warning.

With businesses told to plan for up to 25 per cent absence rates due to the Omicron variant of COVID-19, Harrogate Council’s Leader, Richard Cooper, has warned that the authority is not immune to the pressures the new variant is causing.

Staff shortages have been reported across the public sector and also in the private sector with chains like Iceland reporting 11 per cent absence rates.

Councillor Cooper commented: “Council staff are not immune to COVID and although we and they are sensible about precautions it is inevitable that the virus will be caught by some staff and that this will affect services.

“Our staff have kept local services running throughout the pandemic. At times they have been stretched but they have been flexible and worked over and above. Sometimes our bins may have been collected a day or so late, exceptionally a recycling collection may have been missed altogether. It might not have been possible to do as many street litter collections as usual but the teams have worked hard to catch up when that has been the case.

“There are many other examples of people working beyond the call of duty to keep our services going. I am grateful to them all.

“Over the coming weeks, with infections spiking, it may be that local services are increasingly difficult to deliver. If that is the case, the council will let people know through our social media channels and in the local media. You can also subscribe for email updates using the pop up on the council’s homepage.

“I am asking the public to show patience and understanding during this period and to remember that if a service is delayed or operating differently that will often because someone, or several people, are poorly.”