Important Message from Cllr Roger Truelove (Leader Swale Borough Council)
24 November 2020
Dear Parish and Town councils,
I wanted to update you on our response to the increase in cases of coronavirus across the borough, which are currently among the highest in England.
As you know there are limits to what we as a district council can do directly to respond to this pandemic. With the alarming increase in cases, I felt it was important that we got together as many of those involved as possible, so I called an emergency meeting of our partners and I was pleased with the response we have seen.
At the meeting on 23 November, Kent’s director of public health gave us the latest figures which seem to show the rate is beginning to come down.
We are hoping that the impact of the introduction of the national measures will begin to show on our figures this week, but this is not guaranteed, and there are still worrying signs.
Infection rates have been predominantly among those of working age, but we are starting to see more and more cases in those aged over 60, who are the most vulnerable to the worst effects of the virus.
Deaths are beginning to rise, but there is a delay in the data as these are based on the cause of death on the death certificate. We hope that the experience of the first wave earlier in the year will mean treatment is more successful now and so we don’t see the levels we saw back in April. But, with winter coming, and the pressure this brings to our health services, it is a worrying trend.
We also had confirmation that the current rise in cases is not linked to any particular setting. There has been speculation about prisons and care homes being behind our figures, but together these made up only 15 percent of our cases in the last four weeks, and 12 percent of the last two weeks. This means that the virus is spreading in the community – in residential settings – so we need to be doing all we can to encourage people to follow the rules.
Whilst the number of cases is a serious cause of concern, I was pleased to see that we are the second highest area of Kent for the number of tests being taken by our residents. This shows that many people are doing the right thing if they have symptoms, and whilst it might not seem so now, this should help in the longer run as we identify more people who need to isolate.
I am hoping we will hear in the next few days about the possibility of mass testing for the borough. Kent County Council have been in discussions with the Government about this, and I am hopeful we will benefit from it being introduced locally. Obviously, this would be a huge logistical challenge, but we will offer whatever support we can to make it happen.
At the same time, we need to continue to enforce the rules that are in place. We all need to make sure we are doing all we can to make sure local businesses are complying with the rules. If you are aware of any businesses not adhering to the restrictions in place, please report them at www.swale.gov.uk/stay-safe-concerns so they can be investigated.
The Government has said we will be coming out of the national restrictions next week and it is likely that we will be a higher tier than we were. We need to channel all our energies on safely getting out of it as soon as we can if we want our struggling local businesses to recover, and to try to save as many local jobs as possible.
For now we need to be reminding people of the national restrictions in place until 2 December, and after that we will need to explain the restrictions of whatever tier we are placed in. We should find this out on Thursday, and I hope we can all work together to make sure people know what they should do.
There are materials to support these messages at https://coronavirusresources.phe.gov.uk and these should be updated in the next few days to reflect the changes coming next week.
If we don’t keep trying to get this virus under control, this will be a long and painful winter for the borough.
Not just for struggling businesses and people losing their jobs, but for those who succumb to this disease, their families, and those who are unable to receive the care they need for other conditions because our NHS is under strain.
Finally, I know many of you have been doing your utmost to help the borough through this difficult time, and I want to thank you for that.
I know you are as keen as I am to get back to some form of normality, and I am confident that by working together, we will.
Cllr Roger Truelove
Doddington Parish Council
Across the country, people are facing a huge challenge from coronavirus (COVID-19), and its impact on our lives and work following Government regulations for everyone to stay at home. There is help and support for elderly and vulnerable people who have been advised to self-isolate for three months.
Members of the Parish Council have offered to be on call for any of their neighbours in the village who may, over the next few months, need help in obtaining shopping, medical supplies or up to date information regarding the virus.
Cllr Kevin Fraser 886623
Cllr Colin Jones 886857
PLEASE CALL AFTER 9am & BEFORE 6pm
Further help is also available from:-
Swale Borough Council Community Support Line- 01795 417525
The line is open from:
9am - 5pm Monday to Thursday;
9am - 4:30pm Friday
10am - 2pm Saturday and Sunday, and Bank Holidays.
KCC Kent Together Helpline- 03000 41 92 92 (24 hour service)
Age Concern - 01795 532766
Cllr Kevin Attwood, Chairman Doddington Parish Council
Government advice on using green spaces and protecting yourself and others from coronavirus 1 June 2020
The risk of the coronavirus being passed on to others outdoors is considered to be low as long as people maintain social distancing.
In England, you can leave your home to exercise and spend time outdoors for recreation with your household or in groups of up to six people from outside your household.
When travelling to outdoor spaces, it is important that people respect the rules in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Do not travel to different parts of the UK where it would be inconsistent with guidance or regulations issued by the relevant devolved administration.
In England, you can now:
- spend time outdoors, including exercise, as long as you continue to adhere to strict social distancing guidelines with people from outside your household
- take part in other outdoor sports and activities, including fishing, in groups of up to six people, or household groups, provided you adhere to strict social distancing guidelines
- drive to outdoor open spaces, including beaches and beauty spots, irrespective of distance - you should travel in a private vehicle, alone or with members of your own household. You should avoid public transport other than for essential journeys.
- visit gardens, nature reserves and parkland to spend time outdoors, although access may be limited to members or those with tickets to ensure social distancing and buildings and amenities such as cafes will remain closed. You should check ahead and follow social distancing guidelines.
- go swimming in either lakes or the sea for exercise or recreation provided that social distancing guidelines are observed - you cannot use public indoor and outdoor swimming pools
- take part in all forms of water sports practised on open waterways, including sailing, windsurfing, canoeing, rowing, kayaking, surfing, paddle-boarding and the use of privately-owned motorised craft (in line with the guidance issued by the relevant navigation authority)
- you can continue to use towpaths for walking, running and cycling, being mindful of other users and people living in boats along the water
There are no restrictions on how far you can travel to get to the countryside. However you cannot stay overnight. Campsites and caravan parks are closed and you cannot stay in a holiday or second home.
To stay safe, you must:
- take hygiene precautions when you are outside
- wash your hands as soon as you are back indoors
- keep at least two metres apart from anyone outside your household at all times
- take hand sanitiser with you when you set off in case there are no handwashing facilities
Respect other people and protect the natural environment
Remember your actions can affect people’s lives and livelihoods. Take the time to read signage. Respect the measures that local authorities and site management have put in place to help ensure social distancing.
Before travelling, you should check if facilities, such as car parks, are open to visitors. Do not park on verges or block gates. This restricts access for other vehicles.
When in the countryside, follow the Countryside Code. You can do this by:
- leaving no trace of your visit and taking all of your litter home
- not using barbecues as they risk causing wildfires
- keeping dogs under effective control and on a lead when you are around farm animals - read further guidance for pet owners
- leaving gates as you find them and following instructions on signs
- keeping to footpaths and following signs where they suggest alternative routes
Wildlife may have moved into areas where it hasn’t previously been found, including nesting birds. Land managers may have taken action to provide extra protection of wildlife. Be vigilant and comply with these protective measures to ensure you do not disrupt the local wildlife.
Advice to land managers and landowners
You’ll need to take account of Working safely during COVID-19 in construction and other outdoor work.
You can also draw on the government’s guidance for Safer Public Places during Coronavirus. We recognise however that some of it is more relevant for urban areas and that different approaches may sometimes be required when managing access to land in the countryside.
It may not be practical to clean regularly all gates and stiles. You can display signs at access points reminding the public of the need to take hygiene precautions and wash hands regularly. Land managers may also wish to consider tying gates open if it is safe to do so, so that walkers do not need to touch the gate.
You do not have the legal right to block or obstruct public rights of way or open access land. However, in circumstances where large numbers of people are using such routes, you may consider:
- temporarily displaying polite notices that encourage users to respect local residents and workers by following social distancing guidelines and consider using alternative routes that do not pass through gardens, farmyards or schools
- offering an alternative route around gardens and farmyards where it is safe to do so (you must gain permission from relevant landowners and make sure the route is safe for users and livestock) provided that the original right of way is maintained
- putting up signage warning people where footpaths are narrow and it is difficult to follow social distancing guidelines
Kent County Council Coronavirus Update 29 May 2020
This guide provides information on the national and local support available to help residents, businesses and voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector organisations respond to the impact of the Coronavirus (Covid-19). The guide also includes a summary of the latest Government announcements, alongside information on KCC’s website (kent.gov.uk). The guide is update regularly and, is not intended to be an exhaustive list of all the resources, funding and advice being issued, therefore it links to other sources of information where available.
- NHS ‘Test and Trace’ service - the new ‘NHS Test and Trace’ service launched on Thursday, 28 May. Anyone who now tests positive for coronavirus will be contacted by the ‘NHS Test and Trace’ service and will need to share information about their recent interactions. This could include household members, people with whom they have been in direct contact, or within 2 metres for more than 15 minutes.
People identified as having been in close contact with someone who has a positive test must stay at home for 14 days, even if they do not have symptoms, to stop spreading the virus. If those in isolation develop symptoms, they can book a test at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119. If they test positive, they must continue to stay at home for 7 days, or until their symptoms have passed. If they test negative, they must complete the 14-day isolation period. Members of their household will not have to stay at home unless the person identified becomes symptomatic, at which point they must also self-isolate for 14 days to avoid unknowingly spreading the virus. Further information on the ‘Test and Trace’ service is available here. Further information on getting tested is available here. The Government has also updated their guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection, this is available here.
Councils will work with ‘NHS Test and Trace’ to develop local outbreak control plans, building on the work already done so far to respond to coronavirus. A new Local Government Advisory Board has also been established to support this work.
- Coronavirus testing extended to children aged under 5 - from Wednesday, 27 May the Government expanded coronavirus testing to children aged under 5, to help support the phased opening of schools and childcare settings in England from Monday, 1 June.
- The Government have provided an update to their COVID-19 recovery strategy, which details measures for easing the lockdown. The updated measures relate to the ‘Step 2’ section of the strategy. The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has referred to the changes as “limited and cautious”, adding that they are also conditional on the Government’s five tests being met. The Prime Minister has also cautioned that there could be further “local outbreaks” of coronavirus and that where these occur, lockdown restrictions may have to be re-imposed.
- Schools and Nurseries: From Monday, 1 June, the Government has recommended that primary school children return in a phased approach, with Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 to return to school first. Government is also asking nurseries and other early years providers, including childminders, to begin welcoming back all children.
From Monday, 15 June, secondary schools, sixth form and Further Education Colleges are asked to offer some face-to-face support to supplement the remote education of year 10 and year 12 students, who are due to take key exams next year. The Prime Minister has said that this will help students “prepare for exams next year, with up to a quarter of these students in at any point”. Further information is available here.
- Non-Essential Retail: The Prime Minister has set out a timeline and measures for ‘non-essential’ retail to reopen.
- From Monday, 1 June, outdoor markets and car showrooms will be able to reopen.
- From Monday, 15 June, all other non-essential retail including shops selling clothes, shoes, toys, furniture, books, and electronics, plus tailors, auction houses, photography studios, and indoor markets, can reopen. The Prime Minister has said that this is dependent on the five tests still being met.
Businesses will only be able to open from these dates once they have completed a risk assessment, in consultation with trade union representatives or workers, and are confident they are managing the risks. They must also have taken the necessary steps to become COVID-19 secure in line with Health and Safety legislation. This includes businesses being required to take “reasonable steps” to ensure that customers can follow the two-metre social distancing rules.
The Government has published updated COVID-secure guidelines for people who work in or run shops, branches, and stores. This is available here.
As detailed in the Government’s Recovery Strategy, hairdressers, nail bars and beauty salons, and the hospitality sector, remain closed “because the risk of transmission in these environments is higher where long periods of person to person contact is required”.
- Social contact, from Monday, 1 June, up to six people, from different households, will be allowed to meet outside in “gardens and other private outdoor spaces”, as long as they continue to observe the social distancing measures and stay two metres apart. The Prime Minister has said that “minimising contact with others is still the best way to prevent transmission”. People “should also try to avoid seeing people from too many households in quick succession”, to avoid transmission of the virus. The Prime Minister has added that “It remains the case that people should not be inside the homes of their friends and families, unless it is to access the garden”. Further information is available here.
- The Extremely Clinically Vulnerable - the Prime Minister has announced that “at this stage… those who have been asked to shield themselves should continue to do so”.
- Transport services – the Government has announced £283 million (£254 million for buses and £29 million for trams and light rai) to increase the number of bus and light rail, so that people who need to travel, including key workers, can do so safely. In addition, 3,400 people including British Transport Police officers, Network Rail and train operator staff have been deployed at rail stations to advise passengers and make sure people can follow the guidance put in place. Passengers across the country will also be able to access a personalised information service ‘Passenger Connect’. Further information is available here.
- Rough Sleeping - Dame Louise Casey – the head of the COVID-19 Rough Sleeping Taskforce – has called on all parts of society to join forces and help the Taskforce. Further information is available here. The Government is also bringing forward £433 million for 6,000 new long-term housing units to help get vulnerable rough sleepers off the streets. The intention is for 3,300 of these to be available in the next 12 months. Further information is available here.
- French border restrictions in response to coronavirus – the French Government is to ask arrivals from the UK to observe a voluntary 14-day self-quarantine, once self-isolation measures come into effect for arrivals to the UK, which is planned for Monday, 8 June. Further information is available here. The UK Government has also updated their guidance on travelling overseas during the coronavirus pandemic and further information is available here.
- Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) - the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has made a further announcement on how the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) will be tapered. From August 2020, as part of the scheme, employers will be asked to pay their employees National Insurance and employer pension contributions. The Government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500. From September, employers will be asked to start paying 10% of employees’ wages. The Government will pay 70% of wages up to a cap of £2,187.50. From October, employers will be asked to contribute 20% of employees’ wages. The Government will pay 60% of wages up to a cap of £1,875. The scheme will then close at the end of October 2020. Further information is available here.
- Flexible furlough scheme - From 1 July, a flexible furlough scheme will start. This is a month earlier than previously announced. This scheme will allow employers to bring employees back into the workplace for several days per week, while still being furloughed. Claims from July onwards will be restricted to employers currently using the furlough scheme and previously furloughed employees. The scheme will close to new entrants on 30 June, with the last three-week furloughs before that point commencing on 10 June. Further information is available here.
- Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) - the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will be extended, with applications opening in August for a second and final grant. The grant will be worth 70% of average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering three months’ worth of profits, and capped at £6,570 in total. Further guidance on the second grant will be published on Friday 12 June and applications for the second grant will open in August. Further information is available here.
- Post Coronavirus, Economic Recovery Package – on Wednesday, 27 May, the Prime Minister gave evidence to the Commons Liaison Committee on the subject of - ‘Coronavirus: the science, the impact, and the way ahead’. During this session the Prime Minister said that the Government will be publishing a “Post Coronavirus, Economic Recovery Package”. Further information on the session is available here.
- Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme – the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme, which was announced as part of the March Budget, opened for applications on Tuesday, 26 May. Further information is available here.
- Reopening High Streets Safely Fund – the Government has announced a £50 million fund for councils to prepare for the reopening of non-essential retail, as the lockdown is eased. The Reopening High Streets Safely Fund will help councils in England introduce a range of safety measures, including a range of practical safety measures including new signs, street markings and temporary barriers. Further information is available here.
- New code of practice for rent payments – a Government-led working group has been established, with the commercial rental sector, to develop a code of practice to support high street businesses through coronavirus. This will encourage discussions between landlords and tenants over rental payments during the coronavirus pandemic and guidance on rent arrear payments and treatment of sub-letter and suppliers. Further information is available here.
Citizens Advice funding - Citizens Advice are to receive funding of up to £15 million to help them deal with increased demand for advice and information from the public during the coronavirus pandemic. Further information is available here.
- Mental Health funding – community projects supporting people with their mental health during the coronavirus pandemic are set to benefit from a share of £5 million of additional funding. This fund is administered by Mind as part of the Mental Health Consortia, made up of Mind, the Association of Mental Health Providers, Centre for Mental Health, Mental Health Foundation, the National Survivor User Network and Rethink Mental Illness. Further information is available here.
Free, safe and anonymous online support for young people in Kent
A mental health and wellbeing online platform for young people has been extended for all young people across Kent.
As part of the Headstart Kent Programme, the Kooth digital mental health support service has already given one in five young people, aged 10 to16, easy access to an online community of peers and a team of experienced counsellors.
The service is free and can be accessed at www.kooth.com. It’s a place to get advice, information and support 24/7. You can chat to a friendly qualified counsellor Monday to Friday between 12pm and 10pm and Saturday and Sunday between 6pm and 10pm.
Kent County Council’s Director of Integrated Children’s Services, Stuart Collins, said: “In these unprecedented times it is important for all of us that we continue to focus on the emotional health and well-being of children. I am happy to be able to support the increase in access to safe online support through developing the Kooth offer across Kent in this way.”
The NHS Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group’s Senior Commissioner for Children and Young People’s Services, Sue Mullin, said: “We are pleased to be working with KCC colleagues to support the extension of Kooth. We know that Kooth offers children and young people across Kent a confidential service whether it’s accessing articles, joining forums or accessing scheduled times with a counsellor. The feedback from our children and young people has been very positive, and we are pleased that we are now able to provide the opportunity to access Kooth to more children and young people and truly see the impact of jointly commissioning this service.”
The service is funded by Headstart Kent on behalf of the National Lottery Community Fund, NHS Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group and Kent County Council’s Public Health Grant.
Young people in Kent can also continue to access advice, information and support by:
- Accessing www.moodspark.org.uk or www.kentresiliencehub.org.uk to learn about mental health and find tips and resources to keep emotionally healthy
- Texting ChatHealth for support around physical and mental health on 07520 618850. The number is monitored Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.
- Completing a form for the Children and Young People’s Counselling Service at www.kentcht.nhs.uk/forms/school-health-service-referral-form
- Calling the Single Point of Access (SPA) on 0300 123 4496 if you are not sure what help is needed.
- Accessing the Big White Wall if aged 16+ for anonymous support through https://www.bigwhitewall.com/
For people of all ages needing mental health support, just text the word “Kent” or “Medway” to 85258. This is a new 24/7 text service provided by SHOUT and the Crisis Text Line as part of the Kent and Medway Release the Pressure campaign.
For more information about how to look after your mental health during the coronavirus pandemic visit www.kent.gov.uk/wellbeing
Health partners and providers, local authorities and emergency services across Kent and Medway are working together to provide information on local support services to help people’s mental wellbeing during the ongoing Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic crisis.
Information is available at www.kent.gov.uk/wellbeing for people experiencing bereavement and loss, debt and financial difficulties, pregnant women and new mums needing extra support, families looking for help with young children or teenagers.
There is support for those who might already have pre-existing mental health conditions, are victims of domestic abuse or are people in the shielded community.
The site also offers help for people with learning disabilities, people who don’t use English as a first language, carers and NHS staff, care staff and other key workers.
Kent County Council Director of Public Health, Andrew Scott-Clark said: “The challenging reality of lockdown is creating uncertainty and anxiety for many. The constant news can feel overwhelming and you may be adjusting to a different way of life, with children off school, many people not working or working from home, as well as not seeing family, friends and colleagues.
“This anxiety is natural, and we are all feeling it. Fortunately, there are things that we can do to protect our mental health and to support the wellbeing of our friends and family. At www.kent.gov.uk/wellbeing you can find information, advice and signposting to other great sites which can help, whatever your situation and need. This is #kenttogether.”
Thanks to all of those supplying content to www.kent.gov.uk/wellbeing including: Kent County Council; Medway Council; Public Health England; NHS England; Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group; Kent Community NHS Foundation Trust; Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust; Live Well Kent; Healthwatch Kent; Kent Community Foundation; Headstart Kent; Carers UK; Kent’s Integrated Domestic Abuse Support Services; KCC Children’s Centres; Citizen’s Advice and Age Concern.
As part of the Release the Pressure campaign, a new text service is now available - by texting the word “Kent” or “Medway” to 85258, you will start a conversation with one of the many trained and experienced volunteers who can give support at any time, wherever you are. It’s a place to go if you’re struggling to cope and you need immediate help. Texts are free on all major mobile networks and the service is provided by SHOUT and the Crisis Text Line.
The service will run in addition to the current 24/7 freephone helpline and is funded by the Kent and Medway Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) which is a collaboration between Kent County Council, Medway Council, Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust and all the NHS organisations across Kent and Medway.
Vulnerable people in Kent who need urgent help, supplies or medication are also reminded of the helpline – called Kent Together – which provides a single, convenient point of contact for anyone in the county who is in urgent need of help during the Coronavirus outbreak. It is a collaboration between KCC, central Government, District, Borough and local councils, the voluntary and community sector, the NHS and other partners to ensure help is at hand for vulnerable people.
If you are vulnerable and have an urgent need that cannot be met through existing support networks, you can contact the Kent Together helpline at www.kent.gov.uk/KentTogether or by calling on 03000 41 92 92. It is a 24-hour service.
The Kent Together service is a single, convenient point of contact for anyone in Kent who is in urgent need of help during the coronavirus outbreak at www.kent.gov.uk/kenttogether and on 03000 41 92 92