This update includes information on:
- Easing of lockdown restrictions
- Government update on shielding
- 1,500 laptops to help pupils learn through lockdown
- Scams warning
- City markets
- AA launches COVID CONFIDENT scheme for leisure sector
- Domestic abuse
- UK alert level moves to Level 3
Easing of lockdown restrictions
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has today set out further changes to lockdown measures in England intended to help people to see more of their friends and family, help businesses get back on their feet and get people back in their jobs.
From Saturday 4th July, the Prime Minister has announced that pubs, restaurants and hairdressers will be able to reopen, providing they adhere to COVID Secure guidelines.
From the same date, he has set out that two households will be able to meet up in any setting with social distancing measures, and that people can now enjoy staycations in England with the reopening of accommodation sites.
In order to begin restoring the arts and cultural sector, some leisure facilities and tourist attractions may also reopen, if they can do so safely – this includes outdoor gyms and playgrounds, cinemas, museums, galleries, theme parks and arcades, as well as libraries, social clubs, places of worship and community centres.
Following a review, the Prime Minister has also set out that where it is not possible to stay two metres apart, guidance will allow people to keep a social distance of ‘one metre plus’. This means staying one metre apart, plus mitigations which reduce the risk of transmission.
As we begin to reopen the economy, it’s important that we do not increase the risk of transmission which is why “close proximity” venues such as nightclubs, soft-play areas, indoor gyms, swimming pools, water parks, bowling alleys and spas will need to remain closed for now. The Government is continuing to work with these sectors to establish taskforces to help them to become COVID Secure and reopen as soon as possible.
While the infection rate continues to fall, the Prime Minister has been clear that the public must continue to follow social distancing guidelines to keep coronavirus under control. The Government will keep all measures under constant review and will not hesitate to apply the handbrake, or reverse measures, should the virus begin to run out of control. These measures apply in England only.
We will be considering the implications of this announcement in coming days and will keep you informed of any changes in relation to council services.
Government update on shielding
The Health Secretary this afternoon set out a roadmap for the future of shielding. Shielding guidance will be relaxed in stages, subject to clinical evidence:
- From 6 July: the guidance for the clinically extremely vulnerable will be relaxed to allow shielded individuals to meet up to 5 people from other households outdoors, socially distanced, and to form support bubbles if they live alone or are a lone adult with a dependent under 18.
- From 1 August: the clinically extremely vulnerable can stop shielding. The guidance will be updated to allow this cohort to go to the shops and places of worship, while following current social distancing rules.
- The food and medicine boxes facilitated by the National Shielding Service will stop as of 1 August as individuals are advised they can visit shops and pharmacies. However, other forms of support – such as priority supermarket delivery slots and the NHS Volunteers Scheme, amongst a range of local volunteer schemes – will continue. If an individual is concerned about support after 1 August, they should contact #StokeonTrentTogether (info below).
The categorisation of ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ will remain in place indefinitely and people in this cohort should continue to follow the guidance specific to them, available here. This is because community transmission and the R number will continue to be closely monitored and the government will tighten advice to this cohort as needed.
Shielding guidance has been and continues to be advisory. Everybody in the ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ categorisation will be written to from the government from today outlining these steps.
Sarah Totten, Strategic Manager Early Intervention Contact and Hospital, at Stoke-on-Trent City Council has been recognised for their ongoing support to hospitals and care homes during the pandemic, as part of the West Midlands Employers (WME) #EverydayHeroes campaign.*
Sarah and her 32 strong hospital team, including many social workers, have been working hard to get patients out of acute hospital beds, and community health services, and into a safe environment quickly when the clinical staff say they are medically fit to leave to enable the NHS to deal with Covid-19 cases.
They have been working closely with patients and clinicians to determine the best option, whether that’s going back to their own home, a nursing or care home or a community hospital depending on their care needs and circumstances.
Sarah says, “Making sure patients are safe is our number one priority. We also wanted to support the care homes in our region as much as possible and make sure that they feel like they can ask us for help. We know this has helped vulnerable residents from going into hospital and lowered infection and mortality rates within our independent care providers.”
Anyone can nominate one or more local council heroes here. West Midlands Employers will review nominations in partnership with the relevant council and we will share their stories via https://wmheroes.co.uk/meet-your-heroes/.
1,500 laptops to help pupils learn through lockdown
More than 1,500 laptops are being given to pupils across the city this week to help them continue to learn through the coronavirus lockdown.
We are distributing a total of 1,533 laptops and 135 4G routers to city schools so more pupils can access online learning and have taken stock of 17 pallets of the computers, worth £429,000, from the Department for Education specifically to help schoolchildren in the city.
They will help young people to not only catch-up on their school work, but will also allow schools to provide more tailored learning activities and build up resilience before students move on to college courses which will require good research skills.
The laptops are being given to care leavers, children and young people with a social worker, and year 10 pupils at maintained schools who do not have access to other devices.
During the outbreak there has been an increase in the numbers of emails, text messages and social media messages trying to convince people to open files or click links that they would normally be suspicious of; or asking for payment of invoices or to change bank details.
Over a third of British adults (36%) have been the target of a scam since lockdown began, according to research by Citizens Advice.
You should be very cautious of any message asking you to change bank details or urgently pay a bill. These scams often use fake email addresses/senders similar to genuine ones you know.
More details about what to look out for are available here.
Last week as part of the phased return of our markets, we welcomed shoppers back to our indoor and outdoor markets.
Our markets have a range of items on offer so why not support a local, independent business and pay a visit. Click here for where you can find your nearest market www.stoke.gov.uk/markets.
We have worked with the traders to plan the re-opening with all necessary safety measures in place to protect shoppers and traders. This includes social distancing markers and reminders and hygiene sanitising facilities. Our markets are operating with restricted entrance and exit arrangements. Stoke City’s community trust team will be out in the markets to support shoppers, advise on safety measures and guide visitors round the one-way systems in place. Please remember to adhere to the social distancing measures when you visit.
AA launches COVID CONFIDENT scheme for leisure sector
This week, the AA has announced that it is launching a new free COVID CONFIDENT assessment scheme to support the hospitality industry in re-establishing and rebuilding consumer confidence as the UK prepares to come out of lockdown.
What is the scheme?
The AA COVID CONFIDENT accreditation will indicate to customers that an establishment has in place the necessary risk assessments, safety measures and staff training, in line with the Government and UK Hospitality’s published guidelines, to reopen safely when permitted to do so by the Government.
Who can apply for the scheme?
The AA COVID CONFIDENT scheme is open to all hospitality establishments that pass the AA’s stringent criteria, including: hotels; restaurants; pubs; B&Bs and guest accommodation; camping, glamping and holiday parks; self-catering accommodation; hostels; serviced apartments; attractions; and golf courses. The scheme is open to all hospitality establishments. However, any establishment serving food will need to hold a food hygiene score of three and above to be eligible.
How can my business apply?
To be eligible for the AA COVID CONFIDENT scheme, establishments can apply here and must meet the AA’s criteria.
What does my business get out of it?
The AA will be providing all those awarded a COVID CONFIDENT mark with regular updates on the latest Government guidelines, Health & Safety Executive Guidelines, and best practice. Establishments with an AA COVID CONFIDENT mark will be listed on the AA’s consumer facing RatedTrips.com website, making accredited businesses easy for customers to find.
Football has made a return to our screens, with the Premier League and the Championship starting again. This will be welcomed by many across the country. However, research shows that incidents of domestic abuse rise sharply during major football tournaments by up to 25 per cent.
The Home Office launched a national campaign during the coronavirus outbreak – #YouAreNotAlone – to raise awareness that if you are experiencing domestic abuse, you can leave your home if this is possible and that police and support services remain available. You can find out more about the campaign by clicking here.
You can also find out more about local support provided by New Era here.
UK alert level moves to Level 3
On Friday (June, 19) The Joint Biosecurity Centre recommended that the COVID-19 alert level should move from Level 4, a COVID-19 epidemic is in general circulation; transmission is high or rising exponentially to Level 3, a COVID-19 epidemic is in general circulation.
The Chief Medical Officers for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have reviewed the evidence and agree with this recommendation to move to Level 3 across the UK.
There has been a steady decrease in cases in all four nations, and this continues. It does not mean that the pandemic is over. The virus is still in general circulation, and localised outbreaks are likely to occur.