CORONAVIRUS - An update from Chichester District Council
Wednesday 22 April 2020
Issued by the Public Relations Team – email@example.com
This briefing is to keep you updated on the evolving situation around coronavirus (COVID-19) and the actions being taken in the district.
Who does it affect?
- Residents and businesses within the district
- Chichester District Council staff and councillors
- Parish councils
- Community groups and charitable organisations
In this briefing
- Latest update
- Service changes
- Community hub
- Community guide
- Government grants for businesses
- New business support tool
- Council meetings to resume
- Accommodation, food and support for rough sleepers
- Advice on waste disposal
- Play areas and outdoor gym equipment
- County highways update
- Mental wellbeing campaign
- Universal Credit – speeding up claims
- Please do not light Chinese lanterns
- Extra support for Southern Water customers
- Guarding against online scams
Matt Hancock, Health Secretary, told the daily Downing Street briefing yesterday that human trials for a vaccine, developed by the University of Oxford, would begin on Thursday.
Mr Hancock told the No 10 briefing that "the best way to defeat coronavirus" was through a vaccine.
The process was "trial and error", he said, but the UK was at the "front of the global effort" and had invested more money than any other country.
He said two leading vaccine developments at UK universities - Imperial College London and the University of Oxford - would receive a total of £42.5m to support their clinical trials.
- stay at home
- only go outside for food, health reasons or work (where this absolutely cannot be done from home)
- stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people
- wash your hands as soon as you get home
Anyone can spread the virus. The advice is to stay home and save lives.
Please visit www.chichester.gov.uk/councilservicestatus for the latest information.
As we have mentioned previously, we are working in partnership with West Sussex County Council, which has developed a Community Hub to support the most vulnerable residents in our communities. We have been supporting the hub by collecting and delivering food, supporting volunteers, calling people to check that they are okay – and in one case, making sure that a lady had some wool so that she could continue knitting. Being able to continue with hobbies such as knitting, or being able to have a chat with someone can mean so much at this time.
You can contact the Community Hub if you, or someone you know, need help, or if you want to volunteer your services in these difficult times. This will be available seven days a week and staff will be on hand to respond to enquiries from 8am-8pm. The team will be contacting the most vulnerable to tell them how to get help. The best way to contact the hub is online; if you have access go to www.westsussex.gov.uk/covid19communityhub.
A dedicated telephone helpline is also available for residents who are unable to go online: 033 022 27980. We are trying to keep the resources available through the hub for those who are most vulnerable, so if you do have support in place already, such as from family or friends, then please continue to use their support.
We have produced a community guide, which offers advice to community groups and residents, including lots of useful numbers, information and guidance. You can access a copy by visiting https://www.chichester.gov.uk/helpyourneighbour
Government grants for businesses
We have issued £24 million of government grants to businesses in the district to help them through the COVID-19 crisis. Overall, the Government has issued £37 million of support for businesses in the Chichester District. We have written a letter to everyone who is eligible and we have been phoning, sending emails and promoting the scheme to encourage these businesses to come forward and provide the details we require in order to pay businesses their grant. You can do this by visiting www.chichester.gov.uk/businessratesMarch2020 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Those who receive business rates relief are also entitled to apply. It’s quick and easy to apply and it’s important that you are aware that you do not have to repay the grant funding. You can find out more here https://www.chichester.gov.uk/article/33931/37-million-in-COVID-19-grants-is-being-issued-to-local-businesses-in-the-Chichester-District
New business support tool
The Government has set up a new coronavirus business support finder tool. This tool helps businesses and self-employed people across the UK to quickly and easily find out what financial advice is available to them during the coronavirus pandemic. You access the tool at https://www.gov.uk/business-coronavirus-support-finder
Business owners will be asked to fill out a quick and simple online questionnaire. They will then be directed to a list of all the financial support they may be eligible for.
Council meetings to resume
Next month we will start to resume some of our council meetings, but these will be carried out virtually. We will make sure that agenda items are published on our website a minimum of five working days before the meeting. If you wish to speak at Planning Committee or ask a question at Cabinet please contact email@example.com. Please note that the Democratic Services team are currently unable to answer questions relating to which meeting a particular planning application will be heard. Please instead contact your case officer for information regarding your planning application.
You will either be able to join the virtual meeting or submit a written statement which will be read out for you. A recording of each meeting will also be published on our council website after the meeting.
- Planning Committee – 6 May
- Cabinet – 12 May
- Planning Committee – 13 May
- Annual Council – 19 May
Accommodation, food and support for rough sleepers
We have provided accommodation and support for all rough sleepers who would accept it. The majority of people accepted our help and we are really pleased that one particular individual has made remarkable progress over the past three weeks. With the positive changes that they have made, we recommended this person for a vacancy in a privately rented flat in a block close to family members and they moved into their new accommodation last week.
Advice on waste disposal
The government has published advice on waste disposal for people with possible or confirmed coronavirus. Personal waste, such as used tissues and disposable cleaning cloths, can be stored securely within disposable rubbish bags. These bags should be placed into another bag, tied securely and kept separate from other waste. This should be put aside for at least 72 hours before being put in your usual external household waste bin. Other household waste can be disposed of as normal.
We are pleased to say that we are managing to deliver all of our waste collection services as normal including clinical, green, business and domestic waste and recycling. Staff have been redeployed from other council services to support waste collection which has helped to ensure stability with the service. We hope it is an unlikely scenario but should we miss your bin please place it out for collection on your next fortnightly collection day. If this is the case excess waste can be placed next to your bin. Please also keep a close look at our website www.chichester.gov.uk/coronavirus or follow our social media pages on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates on all of our services.
Play areas and outdoor gym equipment
Please remember that if you are using our parks and green spaces for your daily exercise, please do not use the play areas or outdoor gym equipment. We have temporarily closed these facilities during the coronavirus outbreak, in line with government advice and because the virus can live on hard surfaces for up to 72 hours. Make sure you observe social distancing while you’re out and about, and wash your hands when you get home. For more advice about keeping safe while using green spaces, please visit: www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-guidance-on-access-to-green-spaces
County highways update
West Sussex County Council, which has responsibility for highways in our district, is continuing to repair potholes, carry out drainage cleaning and grass cutting. This work is being done in line with social distancing rules. For more information see https://www.westsussex.gov.uk/campaigns/coronavirus-covid-19/#1
Public Health England (PHE) has issued further guidance regarding funerals, to ensure that bereaved people are treated with sensitivity, dignity and respect, while protecting individuals, communities and those in the funeral industry from the risk of infection.
The guidance details where exceptions can be made to the stay at home advice currently in place to allow families and friends to attend funerals and say goodbye to loved ones, including those who are self-isolating or who have been defined as extremely clinically vulnerable, should they wish to.
The advice includes:
- those who have symptoms of coronavirus COVID-19 must not attend and must stay at home.
- limiting the numbers in attendance to as low as possible to ensure safe social distancing. Numbers can be determined by the size and circumstance of the venue.
- observing social distancing guidance across all aspects of attending a funeral.
- people who are extremely clinically vulnerable (shielded) can attend with measures put in place to reduce their risk.
- people self-isolating because someone in their household is ill may attend if they do not have symptoms themselves.
Only the following people should attend: members of the person’s household; close family members or if these people above are unable to attend, close friends; a celebrant of choice, should the bereaved request this.
Mental wellbeing campaign
Public Health England has provided a range of new resources aimed at helping people manage their mental wellbeing during the coronavirus. Its Every Mind Matters website has been updated to include a tailored COVID-19 Mind Plan, COVID-19 specific content for individuals and their loved ones, and support for specific mental wellbeing issues such as anxiety, stress, low mood and trouble sleeping. The website also signposts people to activities such as mindful breathing exercises, help reframing unhelpful thoughts and muscle relaxation. You can access all these tools at https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters
Universal Credit – speeding up claims
The Government has said that people applying for Universal Credit will now be able to use their existing Government Gateway account to confirm their identity, which will help to speed up claims. See https://www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/
Please do not light Chinese lanterns
Residents are being warned not to light Chinese lanterns in support of the NHS but show their support in other ways. The National Fire Chiefs Council has said that the lanterns are serious hazard that pose a risk to livestock, agriculture, thatched properties and hazardous material sites. Responding to fires caused by the lanterns could put added pressure on the fire service which is busy supporting vulnerable residents in the community at this time.
Extra support for Southern Water customers
Southern Water has a range of support to help vulnerable customers and those who are struggling with their bills. You can find more information at https://www.southernwater.co.uk/account/help-paying-your-bill
Support includes three-month payment breaks for any customer impacted by the virus; automatic renewal of support tariffs so customers don’t need to worry about reapplying; and accepting referrals to its priority services register from trusted third-parties, such as councils, emergency services and Citizens Advice, and family members.
Guarding against online scams
The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has issued some useful advice to help protect people online from coronavirus-related scams. Information includes choosing difficult passwords, updating devices and choosing extra security features on online shopping sites. Action Fraud also has a dedicated section regarding coronavirus related scams, what to look out for and advice on how to protect yourself online: https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/alert/coronavirus-scam-costs-victims-over-800k-in-one-month