The Prime Minister announced some changes to the lockdown restrictions this week which came into force on Wednesday (13 May).
The Government has produced some FAQs on what you can and cannot do to help you understand the changes.
Although the infection rate is coming down, the virus has not gone away and we all still have a responsibility to keep each other safe.
To help control the virus you must still:
- Stay at home as much as possible
- Work from home if you can
- Limit contact with other people
- Keep your distance if you go out (keep 2 metres apart where possible)
- Wash your hands regularly, for at least 20 seconds
Do not leave home if you or anyone in your household has symptoms. You can find out more about symptoms of coronavirus and what to do if you have them on the NHS website.
It is also important you look after your mental health.
Here 2 Help update
As of 12 May, the Here 2 Help service had received 2,504 requests for help. 385 of these were from Wychavon. Help with accessing food and medicines makes up most requests but unsurprisingly poverty is now becoming an issue that is appearing more and more.
The number of requests are going down, again as expected seven weeks into a lockdown situation, but the complexity of cases is increasing.
A new campaign is planned for Volunteer Week in early June to raise awareness of the fact Here 2 Help can offer support with more mundane tasks, such as gardening or walking the dog, as well as crisis response.
If you are aware of anyone who is vulnerable and in need, please make sure they fill in the form or call the number on the Worcestershire Here 2 Help website.
Spending time outdoors
You can now spend more time outdoors and enjoy a wider range of activities for any length of time, but you must still follow social distancing rules.
The rule changes include spending time outdoors with one member of another household, one-on-one, as long as you stay 2 metres apart at all times.
Some activities where social distancing is possible, such as tennis or golf, are now allowed as long as people stay 2 metres apart at all times.
You still cannot gather with more than one person from another household.
You also cannot:
- Go on holiday
- Visit and stay overnight at a holiday home or second home
- Visit the homes of friends or family, unless it’s to help a vulnerable person for medical reasons or to take a child to another household with whom parental responsibilities are shared
You can now drive to a destination for recreation, irrespective of distance, in England. The rules are not the same in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.
If you get to a destination and you find it is so crowded that you cannot stay 2 metres apart from people, then please go somewhere else where you can.
Seek help if you are in medical need
The NHS is still open for businesses for anyone who does not have a coronavirus related medical need. The way you access this help may be different, but help is still available.
Read more advice about getting medical help at home. In a genuine life-threatening emergency you should still call 999.
District Council services
Contact Centres – these remain closed for face-to-face queries but we are still available on the phone or by email. We are reviewing this in light of the Government’s announcement this week and are making preparations to reopen when the time is right.
Public toilets – these remain closed but we are making preparations to reopen them with social distancing rules in place. We hope to make an announcement next week
Play areas – these remain closed but our parks are open
Household Recycling Centres – these are run by Worcestershire County Council. Some opened this week but with restrictions. Find out more about visiting a Household Recycling Centre during the coronavirus outbreak.
The full list of services affected is available at www.wychavon.gov.uk/coronavirus
Any changes will be published on that page.
The Government has also given some advice that people should use face coverings (not medical masks but a scarf or homemade fabric covering) when on public transport or in some shops or other enclosed public spaces.
We are starting to see used tissues and disposable gloves, masks etc appear in the recycling we are collecting from households.
Please do not put these items in with your recycling. It creates an infection risk for the workers at the sorting facility. It may also mean we are unable to recycle whole loads of recycling.
You can help by getting your recycling right. Read the list of items you can and cannot put into your household recycling.
If you or someone in your household has symptoms of coronavirus then you should put used tissues and disposable cleaning cloths in rubbish bags. Then put the bag into a second bag and tie it securely. Store it for three days before putting it in your black bin.
If on a sack collection, follow the same process and store bags separately from bags of standard household waste for three days. They can then be put out for collection together on your usual collection day.
You can dispose of other household waste as normal.
Covid-19 Memory Bank Project
The Covid-19 outbreak is undoubtedly a significant moment in human history. We are keen to capture information about what happened locally to inform future generations. That is why we have launched the Covid-19 Memory Bank.
You are encouraged to send in messages of goodwill you have received from neighbours, rainbow pictures you have drawn in support of key workers, messages of thanks you have left for key workers or received, diary entries you may have made during lockdown, video blogs, photographs, video footage, poems, songs or artwork.
The subject can be anything from how you felt during this time to the way the community pulled together, the weekly clap for our carers event, response of key workers on the frontline and the challenges or joys of home schooling.
If you have lost a loved one to this virus, you are also invited to submit a photograph and/or tribute to them.
The information received will be used in a future art project or exhibition and then handed over to the archive at The Hive or locally for preservation.
You can find out more about the project and upload any contributions you may have at www.wychavon.gov.uk/memorybank
Opening of schools and colleges
You may have seen media reports of schools being asked to reopen for some pupils from 1 June. Those of you with school age children will no doubt have many questions. The Government has published an FAQs list. Read more about the Government plan for reopening schools.
Self-Employment Income Support Scheme
If you are self-employed then the Government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) is now open for applications. Everyone eligible will receive a grant by 25 May or within six days of a completed claim. Grants are worth 80% of average monthly trading profits.
Financial support for you
If you are struggling financially then we would advise you to make a claim for Universal Credit, Council Tax Support and other benefits you may be eligible for.
There is more information on the coronavirus employments and benefits page.
Help paying your Council Tax
If you are of working age and already receiving Council Tax Support you will get a one off reduction of up to £150. This will be applied automatically to your bill.
You can apply online for Council Tax Support if you are struggling to pay your bill.
More information is available on our Benefits and Council Tax page.
Even if you are not eligible for Council Tax Support, you still may be able to defer your payments for a short period, or spread them over 12 months instead of ten.
Please contact our team by emailing Revenues@southworcestershirerevenues.gov.uk or call 03004 560560 to discuss your circumstances and they will do their best to help you.
Support for businesses
We have paid out support payments totalling more than £25.7million to more than 2,200 businesses. If you are a business and have yet to apply, find out if you are eiigible and more information on our Business Rates Reliefs page.
The Government’s furlough scheme is now open meaning businesses can apply for help to pay up to 80% of the wages of staff.
www.businesssupport.gov.uk has details of all the support available to businesses.
Download free audio and e-books
Worcestershire County Council’s libraries still aren’t allowed to open but you can download e-books and audio books for free.
Funding for charities, arts and community groups
There is a range of funding support available to community groups and charities who are affected by the COVID-19 outbreak themselves or who are working to support vulnerable people impacted by COVID-19. This includes funding support for arts, heritage and sports projects and grants for organisations supporting vulnerable people.
Visit our Support for community groups and charities page for more information. We update this page regularly so please keep checking back if there is nothing available for your charity or group currently.
Help for those in need
If you are in need of support and do not already have help from friends, family, the voluntary sector or adult social care then please fill in the form on the Worcestershire Here 2 Help website.
Beware fake or unlicensed medicines
There are an increasing number of products being advertised to the general public claiming to either help prevent or treat Covid-19. These include ‘divine cleansing oils’ and ‘antiviral misting sprays’.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has issued a warning not to buy these products. Read the announcement from the MHRA on fake or unlicensed coronavirus medicines.
The best way for you to protect yourself against Covid-19 is to follow the official guidance.