Coronavirus could pose a risk to Highland Council’s financial stability, councillors heard when they were briefed in depth about the current situation.
Budget leader Alister Mackinnon warned: “We have to be prepared for the risks from coronavirus.”
Mr Mackinnon this week delivered a balanced budget for the year ahead, saying the council was in a more confident place than previous years.
But with more than £11 m of savings to make this year and reserves dangerously low, he said the impact of the virus could put considerable pressure on fragile finances.
He said: “If it gets to the stage that it comes here, and it will, we have to think accordingly, with a common sense approach.
“Every one of us makes a risk assessment every day. I wash my hands, and we watch our hygiene.
“We also have to watch where we go as well and think whether we want to travel to infected areas.
“It’s up to all of us to take appropriate action.”
The council is following national guidance and taking advice as necessary from the NHS, which is the lead agency in pandemic health matters.
It has provided guidance to all staff and specialist guidance to schools and High Life Highland.
A council spokeswoman said: “Local authorities will take direction and advice from government, advised by chief medical officers, on any mitigation or public protection measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
“We will continue to work closely with public health and other partners to plan and prepare for any impacts in the Highlands and to respond to any updated advice from the government.”
A spokesman for NHS Highland added: “We are advising the council via the chief medical officer and the government, and they will work closely with us to prepare for any impact in the Highlands and respond to any immediate advice.
“At the moment we’re in a state of limbo waiting for the next step of this to unfold.”