Councils in the north are entering Phase 1 of lockdown easing with the message that it won’t be business as usual for some time yet, but preparations are under way for a return to a ‘new normal.’
All the council’s recycling centres will be open from June 1, and other services are resuming ‘where these can be done safely.’
These include amenities and road maintenance.
A number of public toilets will reopen including Dornie, Raasay, The Green in Portree, Sconser, Achnasheen, Lochcarron and Nairn West Beach.
Greater contact is being introduced for social work and support services for vulnerable groups.
Teachers will return to their schools to prepare for re-opening on August 11.
Highland Council’s education committee chairman John Finlayson said: “The return to workplace and Highland schools for our education staff will have to be undertaken carefully and gradually.
“I understand the desire for parents and pupils to know what plans and preparations will be put in place to enable the start of term on 11th August, and that is exactly what our education staff will be working on in the coming weeks.
“It is important that the local circumstances of each school will need to be considered along with consultations with key stakeholders.”
Council meetings will be held online, including corporate resources and full council next month.
Council staff who are shielding have been told to continue to do so, with further details coming in June.
The council is advising that personal protection equipment (PPE) is for health settings only and is recommending face coverings for public transport and enclosed public spaces.
Councillor Alasdair Christie who is chairing the council’s Recovery Board, said safety and well being remain the priority for Highland communities and council staff.
He said: “Initial changes include the reopening of recycling centres from next week and we are focusing on preparing for a safe return of children to school in August.
“Many essential services, including those additional emergency response tasks have been underway and will continue.
“These include health and social work, waste collection, environmental health, the provision of welfare, support to businesses, delivery of food and medicines through our humanitarian assistance centres, child care for key workers and our advice helpline.
“From next week, we will also be providing school hubs for our most vulnerable children.”
Meanwhile Moray Council says lockdown easing will allow preparation work to begin to resume construction on the new Linkwood Primary School in the south of Elgin and the replacement for Lossiemouth High School.
The coronavirus halt has led to the Elgin project being delayed once again beyond the latest estimate of the doors opening in August next year.
Parents will be sent guidance next week from schools about when they can expect classes to begin again and in what format they will be.
Recycling centres in Buckie, Keith and Forres will open from Monday with a one-way system in force in Elgin to manage expected traffic.
A booking system will also be in operation to ensure the sites do not become crowded following the two-month closure.
Grass cutting has already resumed in recent weeks with road verges, cemeteries and parks being trimmed with further being consideration being given to when smaller areas can resume.
Council leader Graham Leadbitter has welcomed the “first significant step” on the long return to normal but has urged caution due to cases of coronavirus continuing to be reported in Moray within the last two weeks.
He said: “Services are gradually returning where it is safe to do so for both our staff and the people using them. Many services will remain significantly different for an extended period of time with education being a particular challenge.
“Schools will return in August, however it will be necessary to have a mix of school and home based education to avoid having too many people in our school buildings.
“There is also work ongoing on a gradual return of key support services through adult and children’s social care.”