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Coronavirus CVD-19 Pandemic Information

The situation on Coronavirus CVD-19 pandemic is continually changing and people need to be aware of the latest official advice and instruction.

Somerset residents are urged to continue to follow Public Health guidance after new COVID-19 data released shows the infection rate in the County remains low compared to other areas.

As of 27 May 2020, the Office of National Statistics show there were 672 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Somerset with 147 individuals sadly losing their lives to the disease.

An important part of managing an epidemic is continuing to track and monitor it very closely and the Public Health team keep a close eye on several factors including the number of cases and the estimated R value (Reproductive value).

The R value tells us whether an epidemic is getting bigger or smaller. If the R value is bigger than one, we can assume every person who is infected with COVID is going on to infect more than one additional person. This means the epidemic will grow. An R value of less than one means the epidemic is getting smaller.

The current national estimate places the R value for the South West as being below one and there is no reason to suggest the value for Somerset is any different.

Test and Trace service launched

The new NHS Test and Trace service was launched on 28th May across England. The service will help identify, contain and control coronavirus, reduce the spread of the virus and save lives. From today, anyone who tests positive for coronavirus will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace 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.

How test and trace helps fight the virus

The NHS test and trace service will help to control the rate of reproduction (R), reduce the spread of the infection and save lives. By playing your part through the actions set out below, you will directly help to contain the virus by reducing its spread. This means that, thanks to your efforts, we will be able to go as far as it is safe to go in easing lockdown measures.

You can help in the following ways:

if you develop symptoms, you must continue to follow the rules to self-isolate with other members of your household and order a test to find out if you have coronavirus
if you test positive for coronavirus, you must share information promptly about your recent contacts through the NHS test and trace service to help us alert other people who may need to self-isolate
if you have had close recent contact with someone who has coronavirus, you must self-isolate if the NHS test and trace service advises you to do so.

 

The government has set out its plan to return life to as near normal as they can, for as many people as they can, as quickly and fairly as possible in order to safeguard livelihoods, but in a way that is safe and continues to protect our NHS.

The government has published staying safe outside your home guidance on what the new rules will mean. 

1. Gatherings, public spaces, and outdoor activities

1.1 What can I do that I couldn’t do before?

From Monday 1 June, there are a limited number of things you will be able to do in England that you could not do before:

spend time outdoors, including private gardens and other outdoor spaces, in groups of up to six people from different households, following social distancing guidelines
visit car showrooms and outdoor markets
in line with the arrangements made by your school, send your child to school or nursery if they are in early years, reception, year 1 or year 6, if you could not before
if you are an elite athlete as defined by this guidance, train and compete using the specified gyms, pools and sports facilities you need - which will, in the coming weeks, we hope enable others to watch live sport on TV

At all times, you should continue to adhere to strict social distancing guidelines when you are outside your home, particularly ensuring you are two metres away from anyone outside your household.

You cannot:

visit friends and family inside their homes
stay overnight away from your own home, except for in a limited set of circumstances, such as for work purposes
exercise in an indoor sports court, gym or leisure centre, or go swimming in a public pool
use an outdoor gym or playground
gather outdoors in a group of more than six (excluding members of your own household)

1.2 I don’t have to stay at home anymore?

You should continue to stay alert and limit your contact with others. Staying at home is the easiest way to do this.

However, from Monday 1 June, you can spend time outdoors and meet in groups of up to six. You should stay alert and always practise social distancing with people from outside of your household keeping 2 metres apart.

The more people you have interactions with, the more chance the virus has to spread. Therefore, try to limit the number of people you see - especially over short periods of time.

If you are showing coronavirus symptoms, or if you or any of your household are self-isolating, for example if you have been contacted as part of the test and trace programme, you should stay at home - this is critical to staying safe and saving lives.

1.3 What else is a criminal offence?

It is a criminal offence to:

incite others to commit one of the above offences by e.g. inviting people to a party
threaten others with infection by coronavirus, for example by coughing or spitting in their direction

1.4 Can I meet people outdoors if I also have a carer from another household?

Yes – from 1 June you can meet in a group of up to six people, including you and any carers, as long as you practise strict social distancing. Everyone should observe the same guidelines, keeping 2 metres apart. But where you need personal care from your usual carer this may involve being closer than 2 metres.

1.5 Can I meet my friends and family in the park?

From Monday 1 June, you can meet in a group of up to six people, including children, if you are outdoors. You should ensure you stay at least 2 metres away from the people you do not live with. Public gatherings of more than six people from different households will be prohibited in law. Any gatherings before Monday 1 June should be no more than two people from different households and this is prohibited in law. There is no limit to the size of a gathering in an outdoor space if you are all members of the same household.

1.6 If I can socially distance, can I play sport with someone I don’t live with? What about tennis / croquet / cricket / Frisbee?

From Monday 1 June, you can exercise or play sport in groups of up to six people from other households, but should only do so where it is possible to maintain a 2 metre gap from those you do not live with.

People who play team sports can meet to train together and do things like conditioning or fitness sessions but they must be in separate groups of no more than six and must be 2 metres apart at all times. While groups could practice ball skills like passing and kicking, equipment sharing should be kept to a minimum and strong hand hygiene practices should be in place before and after. You can also play doubles tennis with people from outside of your household as long as you remain 2 metres apart as far as possible. Any equipment that is used should be cleaned frequently. Cleaning should be particularly thorough if it is to be used by someone else.

And if you are showing coronavirus symptoms, or if you or any of your household are self-isolating, you should stay at home - this is critical to staying safe and saving lives.

Try to limit the number of people you see - especially over short periods of time - and be sure to stay 2 metres apart when you do.

1.7 Can I sit in someone’s back garden?

Yes, from Monday 1 June you can spend time in gardens and other private outdoor spaces such as yards or roof terraces in a group of up to six people from different households – as long as you maintain social distancing at all times with people outside your household.

You should not go indoors unless you need the toilet or are passing through to access the garden. Avoid touching surfaces and if you use the toilet wash your hands thoroughly, wipe down surfaces, use separate or paper towels and wash or dispose of them safely after use.

If you no longer want to remain outdoors, you should go home. Don’t go into garages, sheds or cabins – these are all indoor areas and where the risk of transmission is higher.

1.8 Can I use garden equipment like tables and chairs? What about a climbing frame or paddling pool?

You should not be sharing garden equipment with people outside of your household because of the risk of transmission. You could bring your own or if you have to use chairs, for example, you should wipe them down carefully with household cleaner before and after use.

You should try to avoid shared equipment, for example you should use your own tennis racquet, golf club or basketball. Any equipment that is used should be cleaned frequently. Cleaning should be particularly thorough if it is to be used by someone else.

You should avoid using paddling pools and private swimming pools with people outside of your household.

1.9 Can I share food and drink, including having a picnic or a barbeque in an outdoor space?

Yes but stay alert. You should not pass each other food or drink unless you live together. You should not use plates or utensils that someone from another house has touched - either bring your own or ensure you have thoroughly cleaned them before using. Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly for at least 20 seconds and use disposable towels if possible.

If you are in someone else’s garden, you must not go inside to help the host carry the food out or to help with the washing up.

1.10 When will I be able to invite others into my home?

Right now, you are only allowed to meet people you do not live with outdoors. Seeing people outside, rather than inside, while obeying the ‘2 metre rule’, greatly reduces the risk of transmission. Close contact with people from other households means a much higher risk of transmission, and according to the scientific advice, we cannot safely allow people to see people they don’t live with indoors without the risk that the virus will spread. We recognise how difficult this is for people – particularly those who live alone and we are keeping this under constant review.

1.11 Can I visit a clinically vulnerable person?

We know that people 70 and over, those with certain underlying conditions and pregnant women are more vulnerable than others, so we have advised them to take particular care to avoid contact with others.

That means you can see them outdoors but be especially careful. You can visit a vulnerable person inside if you are providing care or assistance to them, following the advice set out here. You should not do so if you have coronavirus symptoms, however mild.

Wherever possible, you should stay at least 2 metres away from others, use a tissue when sneezing and dispose of it safely, cough into the crook of your elbow and wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser if washing facilities are not easily available.

If someone is defined as clinically extremely vulnerable and being asked to shield, you should follow the guidance for a shielded person as this is different to those that are vulnerable.

1.12 Are there restrictions on how far I can travel for my exercise or outdoor activity?

No. You can travel to outdoor open space irrespective of distance, as long as you can return the same night and do not put others at risk because of services you may need in the time you are away. You should continue to avoid using public transport and should cycle, walk or drive wherever possible.

If visiting other parts of the UK – Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – you must adhere to the laws and guidance of the devolved administrations at all times.

You shouldn’t travel with someone from outside your household unless you can practise social distancing - for example by cycling.

1.13 Can I use public transport if I’m seeing friends in a park or going to my parents’ garden?

You should avoid using public transport if you can. You should cycle, walk or drive wherever possible. Consider all other forms of transport before using public transport. If you need to use public transport, use should follow the safer travel guidance for passengers.

1.14 Can I share a private vehicle with someone from another household?

You should avoid sharing a private vehicle with members of another household as you will not be able to keep strict social distancing guidelines. The Department for Transport has provided specific guidance on using private vehicles. Please see their guidance on Private cars and other vehicles for more information on car sharing and traveling with people outside your household group.

1.15 Are day trips and holidays ok? Can people stay in second homes?

Day trips to outdoor open space are permitted as long as you can return the same night. You should make sure you do not put others at risk because of services you may need in the time you are away. You should practise social distancing from other people outside your household. You should continue to avoid using public transport if you can. Consider all other forms of transport before using public transport. If you need to use public transport, use should follow the safer travel guidance for passengers.

You are not permitted to stay overnight away from the place where you are living for a holiday or similar purpose. This includes staying overnight in a second home. If your work requires you to stay away from home you can do but should continue to practice social distancing.

Premises such as hotels and bed and breakfasts will remain closed, except where providing accommodation for specific reasons set out in law, such as for critical workers where required for a reason relating to their work. Hotels are also available to host those self-isolating after arriving in the UK (where no other accommodation is available).

1.16 Can students return to their family home if they’ve been in halls all this time?

The general rule is that staying overnight somewhere that is not your home - the place you live - is not allowed. If a student is opting to change their primary residence for the purpose of the emergency period to live back at their family home, this is permitted.

1.17 Will public toilets reopen?

Councils are responsible for public toilets and this decision is up to them. You should avoid using the public toilet where possible. If you need to use any of these facilities, you should practise social distancing and good hygiene (i.e. washing your hands thoroughly).

1.18 Can I visit outdoor tourist sites? What about indoor ones?

Yes, you can still travel to outdoor areas, such as National Parks or beaches. Some venues are not allowed to be open so it is advisable to check ahead to ensure the venue is open to visitors. Indoor sites and some outdoor attractions are still not allowed to re-open.

1.19 Is there a limit on the number of people attending funerals?

The guidance on the number of people attending funerals has not changed.

1.20 Can weddings go ahead?

No, there’s no change at this time - you cannot gather in sufficient numbers indoors to enable a wedding ceremony. We understand the frustration couples planning a wedding must be feeling at this time. We are keeping these restrictions under review and will ease them as soon as it is safe to do so. We will continue to work closely with faith leaders and local government over the coming weeks to go through the practicalities of doing so.

Marriages and civil partnerships under the special procedure for those who are seriously ill and not expected to recover, are taking place in some cases where it is safe to do so in line with PHE guidance.

1.21 Can I pray in a place of worship?

No, it is still not possible to pray in a church, mosque, synagogue, temple or other place of worship. We will continue to review when it might be safe to ease restrictions on places of worship, including for private prayer.

1.22 Can I register the birth of my child?

You are permitted to register the birth of your child. You should check whether your local register office is open. The office will also be able to advise you on appointment availability.

 

Public Health England has FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions) that are updated regularly 

Comprehensive information on health issues can be found here - updated on 1st April

The Sparks Corona Helper website link is https://www.corona-helpers.co.uk/ 


Full Parish Council meetings will not take place. Arrangements are in place for urgent decisions to be made during this period but routine matters will be put on hold.

We encourage everyone to keep an eye on elderly and vulnerable neighbours and those who might be self-isolating - and it is understood that this is already happening. The use of the simple contact form which has been widely published is a possibility when you are not sure – but if you know the person or family concerned, a simple phone call or e-mail is probably the most friendly first step.

The Parish Council have sadly received reports that people using protective gloves to visit the pharmacy and convenience store at Windmill Crescent are throwing them on the ground as they leave. Please do not do this - take them home and place them in your refuse bin.

Gravity have generously agreed to provide a hot meal delivered to the homes of people who are over 80 and those who have received official instruction to self isolate due to a serious medical condition. Full details are contained in the following news tab.

Business Support   

Heart of the South West Growth Hub  

Businesses across Somerset can find free support, advice and information on sources of finance, along with assistance on working from home through the Heart of the South West Growth Hub at: https://www.heartofswgrowthhub.co.uk/covid-19-guidance-for-business/  

Small Business Grant Funding 

District Councils will be contacting small businesses eligible for the grants of £10,000 or £25,000 imminently to help them meet their ongoing business costs.   

Self-employed  

A summary of financial assistance for the self-employed reported by the Chancellor will be online; https://www.somerset.gov.uk/coronavirus/covid-19-help-for-business/ 

Somerset County Council 

Members of the public can now sign up for regular email newsletters about Somerset’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Somerset County Council is currently providing daily email bulletins on all things coronavirus related to councillors and stakeholders – and these are now available to anyone.

The updates include information on affected council services, details of help available for the public and businesses, latest national and local headlines, and tips to keep your mind and body healthy during the emergency.

To sign up, simply visit www.somerset.gov.uk/coronavirus and enter your name and email address in the box provided.

Councillor David Fothergill, Leader of Somerset County Council, said: “These are uncertain times and people understandably want to know what’s going on in Somerset to help keep them safe and where they can find advice and support.

“These newsletters have a wealth of trusted information from local authorities and health partners so sign up today to ensure you never miss an update.”

A single phone number is also available for anyone in Somerset who needs Coronavirus-related support from their councils. The Somerset Coronavirus Support Helpline number, 0300 790 6275, makes it easier for people to access any local authority help they may need, including emotional support, during the current crisis.

County Highways

Somerset Highways staff are out and about around the county continuing to carry out vital maintenance works in order to keep the roads maintained for key workers and emergency services.

In May their teams are due to start important resurfacing works on the A39 Bath Road near Bridgwater.

All highways maintenance teams are classed as essential workers and will be following advice from Public Health England at all sites in order to keep themselves and the public safe.

Other essential works include:

Resurfacing
Surface Dressing
Grass Cutting
Key safety works like filling potholes

Business guidance can be found here: https://www.somerset.gov.uk/coronavirus-back-to-work-government-guidelines/

 

Spark Somerset continues to provide crucial support to Somerset almost 1000 volunteers through Coronavirus Helpers and there are still more volunteering opportunities available through the website https://www.corona-helpers.co.uk/

 Other relevant local contacts include:

BBC Somerset - Local Radio - up to date local information - 95.5FM, 1566AM & DAB digital. Listen online too via bbc.co.uk/bbcsomerset.

E-Watch – this is the local Neighbourhood Watch service which provides regular e-mail updates relating to local police issues. Subscription is free at www.ewatch.org.uk  This could be particularly important as criminal elements could well decide to exploit the vulnerable at this time.

2nd June 2020