South Staffs Council News 196
This week’s news from around the Council.
- COVID-19 update
There have been lots of announcements this week about recent and upcoming changes including:
- The COVID-19 Winter Plan.
- New tiers from Wednesday 2 December 2020.
- UK-wide Christmas arrangements from 23-27 December 2020.
- The COVID-19 Winter Plan
This week, the Government published its plan for managing COVID-19 through the winter, setting out its programme for suppressing the virus, protecting the NHS and the vulnerable, keeping education and the economy going and providing a route back to normality. Scientific advances such as vaccines are at the centre of the Government’s plan to ensure life can return to as normal as possible and reduce the need for economic and social restrictions in the spring. Until then, the Government must continue to use other tools to suppress the virus and the plan sets out the Government’s approach to lifting national restrictions on Wednesday 2 December, when England will move back into a regional, tiered approach.
Regardless of tier, across all of England:
- The stay at home requirement will end, with travel being permitted again subject to guidance in each tier.
- Shops, personal care services, gyms and the wider leisure sector will reopen.
- Collective worship, weddings and outdoor sports can resume.
- People will no longer be limited to seeing only one other person in outdoor public spaces – the rule of six will now apply outdoors as it did in the previous set of tiers.
- New tiers from Wednesday 2 December 2020
On Thursday, new tiers were announced and it was confirmed that Staffordshire will be placed in Tier 3 COVID-19 Very High Alert Level when the four-week national restrictions lockdown in England end on Wednesday 2 December 2020. Read a response from Staffordshire County Council here.
Postcode checker – find out the coronavirus restrictions in your local area.
The Tier 3 Very High Alert measures include restrictions on where households can meet up.
- You can’t mix socially with other households indoors unless part of your support bubble.
- The rule of six applies in outdoor public spaces so you can meet in a group of up to six people in public parks but not in private gardens.
- Hospitality venues such as pubs, bars, cafés and restaurants must remain closed but they are permitted to continue sales by delivery or takeaway.
- Gyms and non-essential shops may reopen.
- People are advised to work from home if they can and avoid non-essential travel in and out of the area. Overnight stays are not allowed outside the area.
- Wedding receptions are banned.
Tier allocations will be reviewed by Wednesday 16 December 2020.
Until Wednesday 2 December 2020, national restrictions continue to apply and information about the lockdown measures can be found here.
Remember – you may only leave your home for a limited set of reasons.
- For work which cannot be done from home.
- For education.
- For exercise outdoors or to visit an outdoor public place. This can be on your own or with members of your household or support bubble.
- For medical reasons.
- To shop for food and essentials.
- To visit members of your support bubble or to provide care for vulnerable people, or as a volunteer.
You must not meet socially indoors or in private gardens with family or friends unless they are part of your household or support bubble. However, individuals may meet one other person from another household outside in an outdoor public place such as a park or playground. Children under school age, as well as those dependent on round-the-clock care, such as those with severe disabilities, who are with their parents will not count towards the limit on two people meeting outside.
Clinically vulnerable people are asked to be especially careful but people are not being asked to resume shielding (guidance for clinically vulnerable) and children can move between homes if their parents are separated.
Although the rate is starting to fall in South Staffordshire, there is still more that needs to be done to get the rate levels lower. Please stay at home and protect yourself and your loved ones. It’s important that if you have symptoms you self-isolate and get tested. Staffordshire is one of 66 local authorities taking part in the roll out of rapid COVID testing for people without symptoms and testing is taking place in various locations throughout the district. Please keep an eye on social media and the Council website for the latest information.
- UK-wide Christmas arrangements from 23-27 December 2020
Over Christmas, the Government is changing some social contact restrictions for a short period of time between Wednesday 23 and Sunday 27 December 2020. You will be able to form an exclusive ‘Christmas bubble’ composed of people from no more than three households so you can spend time with others over the Christmas period, while limiting the risk of spreading infection. Read more about how to make a Christmas bubble with friends and family here.
Please keep the festive period as safe as possible and help prevent the spread of coronavirus. This includes ensuring indoor spaces get as much fresh air as possible during a visit and after any visitors have left, washing your hands regularly and for 20 seconds, keep socially distanced from anybody you do not live with as much as possible, and by following the rules on self-isolation if you develop symptoms or test positive for coronavirus.
- Extra support this winter
Early in November, the Government announced a package of financial support for those in need over the winter period. Children and families will get extra support this winter, with councils given new funding to ensure vulnerable households do not go hungry or without essential items. Find out more about the package of financial support here.
- A £170 million COVID Winter Grant Scheme to support children, families and the most vulnerable over winter.
- Expansion of the Holiday Activities and Food programme, covering Easter, Summer and Christmas in 2021.
- A rise in Healthy Start payments from £3.10 to £4.25 a week from April 2021.
- A suite of measures to help tackle poor health, hunger and education.
The new £170 million COVID Winter Grant Scheme will be available in early December and will be run by county councils and unitary authorities, covering the period until the end of March 2021. The grant will be used to support those most in need across England with the cost of food, energy (heating, cooking, lighting) and water bills and essentials. South Staffordshire Council will be working closely with Staffordshire County Council to provide support to residents and ensure the funding meets its objectives. Find out more about the COVID Winter Grant Scheme here.
- Other useful COVID-19 links
- Information about face coverings.
- Information about meeting others safely.
- Information about what you can and can’t do.
- Information about NHS test and trace.
- Information about the NHS COVID-19 app.
- COVID-19 Support Officers
COVID-19 Support Officers are now out and about in the district and focusing on high risk areas, including around schools, to ensure local villages within South Staffordshire are COVID-secure. Whilst they themselves do not have any enforcement powers, they will be helping to remind people and businesses about the importance of ‘Hands, Face, Space’ and the need to wear face coverings, wash your hands regularly or use hand sanitiser, and to maintain a safe social distance. These measures are vital to ensure people feel safe and to slow the spread of coronavirus in the district.
- COVID-19 business update
During this national lockdown, pubs, restaurants, gyms and non-essential shops have had to close. Understandably, many businesses are concerned about this second national lockdown. If your business has been required to close or has been severely impacted by the new restrictions in place from 5 November to 2 December 2020 you will be able to apply for a new grant scheme to assist businesses financially.
The grants are now live and are known as the discretionary Additional Restrictions Grant and the Local Restrictions Support Grant. Eligible businesses can apply for the Local Restrictions Support Grant (for closed businesses) at this website – https://www.grantapproval.co.uk/
If you wish to subscribe to direct emails from the Council regarding business advice and support, please email your name, business trading name and phone number to firstname.lastname@example.org
For the latest updates about council services, guidance and support, visit:
www.sstaffs.gov.uk or sign up to receive regular eAlert updates at
- Business webinar coming up
In partnership with Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce, South Staffordshire Council is holding a free business webinar on Zoom in December.
- Funding – What is new and how can you access it? Click here to register.
Tuesday 1 December 2020, 2pm to 3pm.
- NHS test and trace support payments
Applications for NHS Test and Trace support payments are open. People who have been told by NHS Test and Trace to self- isolate who on low incomes and unable to work from home can claim a support payment of £500 to compensate for their loss of earnings if they meet certain criteria. Local authorities are administering the payments for self-isolation and residents in South Staffordshire are now able to submit an application for this support and the application form is now live.
- Leisure Services
- Leisure Centres to reopen
Following this week’s announcement from the Government, we are pleased to be able to reopen the swimming pools and gyms at the Council’s Leisure Centres in Cheslyn Hay, Codsall, Penkridge and Wombourne on Wednesday 2 December 2020. More details will be available shortly on the leisure website and the leisure centres’ Facebook pages. You can also sign up to receive regular e-bulletins to help stay up to date with the latest news in leisure.
- Online exercise classes – book your free trial
Our new online exercise classes are proving popular with members. You can access our live exercise classes here and non-members can enjoy a free trial and receive their first class free. Find out more about our online classes here.
- Baggeridge County Park – Both the park and play area remain open. However, a number of restrictions have been introduced. Please only visit the park on your own, with the people you live with or in your support bubble, or one person from another household. The car park is open but restricted to 100 cars at any one time and normal car parking charges apply. The children’s play area is open but restricted to 30 people at any one time. Play is limited to 30 minutes during busy times. Adults are encouraged to use the Test and Trace QR Code scanning and to wear a face mask when in the play area with their children. The tea shop is open (takeaway service only) and the toilets are open. Challenge Academy is closed.
- Help Us, Help You – Accessing NHS Services
COVID-19 has changed the way that people are accessing NHS services and the NHS is here for your mental health, even during the pandemic. Services have remained open and you can still access care and professional advice for your mental health.
- COVID-19 and lockdown have impacted our mental health. You are not alone. If you are struggling with anxiety and depression, NHS Talking Therapies can help.
- NHS Talking Therapies are a free, effective and confidential way to treat common mental health issues. They can help you by working through feelings of anxiety or depression with a trained therapist.
- If you are struggling with anxiety or depression, please do come forward: it’s easy to get help. Ask your GP for a referral to NHS Talking Therapies, or you can self-refer and find out more about NHS Talking Therapies here.
- NHS Talking Therapies are conducted in confidence and help is available face to face, by phone or online. For those whose first language is not English, Talking Therapies can be delivered through multi-lingual therapists or through confidential translators.
Remember the five steps to 5 steps to mental wellbeing:
- Connect with other people.
- Be physically active.
- Learn new skills.
- Give to others.
- Pay attention to the present moment (mindfulness).
- Safer home learning
Did you know the Home Learning Hub contains a free library of resources to support parents and carers who are taking the time to help their children be safer online? Visit the Home Learning Hub website to find out more.
- Council job vacancies
- COVID-19 Support Officers – application information.
- Planning Officer (Grad/Assistant – Senior) – application information. Closing date 27 November 2020.
- Administrator (Environmental Health and Licensing), 12 month fixed term – application information. Closing date 27 November 2020.
- Customer Services General Advisor, fixed term until end August 2021 – application information. Closing date 27 November 2020.
- Next week’s Council Committee/Panel meetings
- Cabinet meeting – Tuesday 1 December 2020 – 2pm – virtual meeting via Teams.
Members of the public can virtually attend this meeting via Microsoft Teams – a link can be found in the news section on the Council’s website at www.sstaffs.gov.uk.
Everyone is encouraged to submit news items, please email: email@example.com