Statement from the Council for 08.01.2021

Date: 
Friday, January 8, 2021


New Year’s resolutions

https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/oral-statement-on-new-covid-19-re...

Help Essex by following the National Lockdown requirements this New Year. Now has never been a more important time to follow the rules to minimise the spread of coronavirus. With the NHS vaccine roll out effort underway, there is light at the end of the tunnel. However to get there we must all play our part by keeping ourselves, families, friends and neighbours safe. And by doing so we will all protect our NHS which is under extreme pressure in Essex. Please remember ‘hands, face, space’ – washing your hands regularly, covering your face in enclosed spaces and social distancing from anyone you do not live with or who isn’t in your support bubble.


Testing
There are three options for testing in Rochford district


1. Lateral Flow Testing
A new fast testing centre has opened in Rayleigh for those who DO NOT have symptoms of COVID-19.
The new Rayleigh Testing Centre is situated at The MegaCentre, 7 Brook Road, Rayleigh, Essex, SS6 7UT.
This testing centre is the fourth of its kind in Essex, and will join The Nightingale Centre in Brentwood, The Towngate Theatre in Basildon and The Place Leisure Centre in Pitsea as one of the first places in the county and the region to offer new and fast Lateral Flow Tests to the wider population. The tests are ONLY for people for who DO NOT have symptoms and give results in around 30 minutes.
Tests are by appointment only and bookings should be made online. Anyone booking should live in the Rochford district of Essex. You can book a test through the following webpage:  https://www.essex.gov.uk/getting-tested-for-covid-19/if-you-dont-have-sy...
Booking online should be the quickest and most effective option for residents seeking a Lateral Flow Test. If you're not able to book using the online form, you can call 0333 772 6144 to arrange an appointment. Lines are open from 8am to 8pm, every day including Saturday and Sunday. You can also email: booking.confirmation@nhs.net and a member of staff will contact you to arrange an appointment.
Anyone WITH symptoms should book a test via the NHS Test and Trace App, or at www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test


2. Mobile Testing Unit 
A mobile testing unit is situated at Rayleigh Leisure Centre. There are a number of these units across the county. These are also by appointment only by booking via the gov.uk website https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test and are available for people WITH symptoms. 
There will be an option to choose these sites when booking, if appointments are still available for the day you choose. You will be allocated a testing unit based on availability. The Rayleigh unit is heavily subscribed so you may be allocated an appointment to a unit outside of the district. 


3. Home Testing Kits
The Council will be distributing home testing kits, for use by the public from our South Street offices. 
The tests are for asymptomatic people ONLY.
 
Those who have symptoms should not use this system, instead they should book a test via the NHS Test and Trace App, or at www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test
The tests are intended for anyone who does NOT have symptoms. You perform the testing process at home by following the instructions in the pack. It is best to conduct the test no earlier than the evening before returning the kit to the collection box.


The kits can be collected from outside the Council’s reception in South Street, Rochford. Full instructions are included with the kit to administer the test at home and register on line. The kit must then be sealed and returned to the collection box at South Street before noon – preferably the same day. 


Please do not return your completed kit after noon on a Thursday, as any tests received after this time will not be collected until after the weekend on Monday. Delays can affect the result.
The results will usually be available after 24 hours but may take up to three days. 


This service will operate from Monday to Thursday, 10am – 2pm from Monday 11 January. There is no need to make an appointment. Please note that the Council’s car park will not be open and you should approach the building on foot from the South Street entrance, which will be signposted. 
For more information please check our website   www.rochford.gov.uk/coronavirus


Shielding
The Government has updated the guidance on shielding and protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable during the national lockdown in England.  This shielding guidance applies to clinically extremely vulnerable individuals only. Others living in a household with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable are not advised to follow this guidance. They should instead follow the general advice and regulations set out in the national lockdown guidance that came into effect on 5 January 2021.
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-pro...
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-lockdown-stay-at-home
Help is also available through the Rochford District Community Hub who ensure everyone can access help and support throughout the Coronavirus pandemic. This helpline is available on 01268 779999 and offers support to those who do not have friends or family nearby, or local support networks.


Education 
The Education Secretary announced that pupils are to receive a set number of hours of remote education each day. He also confirmed that Ofsted will play an important role in holding schools to account for the quality of remote education. The full package of measures includes:
• strengthened minimum standards of remote learning: schools will be expected to offer pupils online lessons and a set number of hours of remote education for pupils 
• next steps on exam alternatives arrangements: students will not be asked to sit GCSE, AS and A level exams this summer. The Education Secretary expects Ofqual to consider a teacher assessed system as a replacement for GCSEs, AS and A levels. A consultation will be launched next week and conclude swiftly to give certainty to schools, colleges and students, while also giving them the opportunity to have their say.
• free school meals: extra funding will be provided to support schools to provide food parcels or meals to eligible students. The national voucher scheme will also re-open so that, in the event schools cannot offer food parcels or provide an alternative local solution, every child can access free school meals while they are learning at home.
The Government also updated the guidance for schools during the national lockdown which includes information on restricting attendance.
https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/education-secretary-statement-to-...
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-th...
Government guidance states that Early Years settings (including nurseries and childminders) can remain open. Headteachers have the discretion to decide what should happen to maintained nurseries, but the expectation is that as a minimum they remain open to vulnerable and critical worker children, in line with schools. 
Youth Services settings can remain open if they are safe. The National Youth Agency is updating their youth services guidance to provide greater clarity. https://nya.org.uk/guidance/  This has been developed in consultation with Public Health England and the Health and Safety Executive. This allows; online and virtual youth sector delivery, detached and outreach (outdoor support), 1-2-1 support for young people (indoors), delivery of support groups for vulnerable young people and drop-in 1-2-1 triage services.


Opens spaces and playgrounds
The Council’s open spaces and playgrounds remain open. Please remember to practise social distancing and stay at least 2m away from anyone who is not in your household. You are not permitted to gather with anyone outside of your household unless you are exercising on your own, in which case you can meet one other person who must remain at least 2m distant at all times. 


Libraries
All libraries are temporarily closed to the public but some sites remain open to offer emergency public computer access by appointment only, Registration appointments and Blue Badge assessments. Printing and scanning facilities are temporarily suspended. 
Rayleigh and Rochford libraries are open for public computer access. You can book a library computer session online or by ringing the library enquiry line on 0345 603 7628. You will need a permanent library card number to complete your booking. https://libraries.essex.gov.uk/facilities-and-charges/library-computers-...
Please check individual library locations to see what services are available. https://libraries.essex.gov.uk/library-locations-and-opening-times/


Business grants 
The Council has distributed 538 Local Restrictions Support Grants under the Closed scheme totalling £709,000 for the period 17 October to 2 December 2020.
Funding has now been received from Government to cover the period 2 December to 19 December 2020.  We are working hard to get grants for this period paid to businesses.  We anticipate businesses will receive their grants by the end of next week.  If you have already applied for a grant you do not need to make a further application for this period or future periods as these will be paid automatically.  If you think you are entitled to a grant but have not yet applied please complete the application form at  https://www.rochford.gov.uk/business-rates-support-during-covid-19
The Government has also announced a one-off grant to businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors that have been legally required to close, and which cannot operate effectively remotely. The value of the grant will be based on the rateable value of the business:
• £4,000 for businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 or under
• £6,000 for businesses with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
• £9,000 for businesses with a rateable value of over £51,000
Further funding will also be provided to top up the current Additional Restrictions Grant Scheme.
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/46-billion-in-new-lockdown-grants-to-...
We have not yet received our allocation of funding or detailed guidance on these latest grants.  We appreciate that this is a difficult time for businesses, and we want to make sure that we get the grants paid as soon as possible.  So please help us during this period by making best use of our website  https://www.rochford.gov.uk/business-rates-support-during-covid-19  which will be updated when we have further information.


NHS advice
Everyone is reminded to follow the NHS advice – wash your hands; wear a face covering; keep social distancing and, as we will be spending more time indoors, let fresh air into your home to ventilate it. 
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/


Please use our website!
Don’t forget a lot of useful content is available via our website and this will be updated regularly, so www.rochford.gov.uk is the best place to check first and we have a dedicated section at www.rochford.gov.uk/coronavirus. Our other media channels are also good sources of information - www.rochford.gov.uk/tellmemore, Facebook: Rochford District Council, Instagram: @RochfordDC and Twitter: @RochfordDC
We would like to reassure everyone that we are working closely with our partners from across Essex in the NHS, emergency services, county council and other local authorities, ensuring that well-practiced plans are put into place.


Updates
The council is monitoring Government guidance daily and will be issuing communications to staff, members and the public regularly, so please watch our website, sign up for e-mail alerts or go to our social media channels to keep up-to-date with the latest information.