Council News 198
This week’s news from around the Council.
- COVID-19 update
This week, the district returned to the local alert tier system with Staffordshire being placed in the highest tier – Tier 3, Very High Alert.
- Guidance about the restrictions in Tier 3 is available here.
- Detailed guidance about the restrictions in all the alert tiers is available here.
- Answers to frequently asked questions.
- See the full list of local restriction tiers by area here.
- Postcode checker – find out the coronavirus restrictions in your local area
The following applies in all tiers in England:
- Shops, personal care services, gyms and the wider leisure sector can 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.
Tier 3 – the key points
- You must not mix socially indoors with anybody who you do not live with 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, click and collect, drive-through or takeaway.
- Gyms and non-essential shops may reopen.
- Indoor entertainment and tourist venues must remain closed.
- Hotels, B&Bs, campsites and guest houses must remain closed (a few limited exemptions).
- 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.
Please continue to follow the rules to protect yourself and your loved ones. Together we can reduce infection rates and ensure our district moves into a lower tier as quickly as possible. Remember – Hands Face Space.
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.
- Other COVID-19 announcements this week
- Roll out of lateral flow tests to councils including Staffordshire – a list of local authorities across England issued with rapid coronavirus (COVID-19) tests by the Department of Health and Social Care.
- UK authorises Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
- New guidance on visiting care home residents.
- Updated guidance on shielding and protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable.
- New guidance on making a childcare bubble with another household.
- Updated guidance for people planning to get married or form a civil partnership in England.
- 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.
- Statement on UK-wide Christmas arrangements.
- Read more about how to make a Christmas bubble with friends and family here.
- Announcement concerning Christmas travel measures to help passengers plan their journey and travel safely.
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
A £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.
- 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.
- Other useful COVID-19 links
- Information about COVID-19.
- Prime Minister’s statement on the COVID-19 Winter Plan and The COVID-19 Winter Plan – which sets outs the Government’s regional, tiered approach for managing COVID-19 through the winter in England.
- Information about face coverings.
- Information about meeting others safely.
- Information about making a support bubble with another household.
- Information about the financial help for businesses during COVID-19.
- Discretionary Additional Restrictions Grant and Local Restrictions Support Grant.
- Shop local and celebrate Small Business Saturday
Many of our shops and businesses in South Staffordshire have reopened so please support them. Where you shop matters more than ever so please #ShopLocal. By spending money locally, you are helping them get back up and running. These shops and businesses form the heart of our local communities and right now they need your support – click here to view a video about shopping local.
Saturday 5 December 2020 marks Small Business Saturday (www.smallbusinesssaturdayuk.com) an annual campaign that champions and celebrates the UK’s small businesses. While this year’s shopping experience may be a little different, please show your support in the run up to Christmas and in the New Year. When shopping, remember Hands Face Space and wash your hands regularly or use hand sanitiser, wear a face covering and maintain a safe social distance from other shoppers.
On Monday it was announced that retailers will be able to extend their daily opening hours from Monday to Saturday in the run up to Christmas and through January too so please be a #SafeShopper and support your local high street.
- South Staffordshire Community Innovation Fund – grants of up to £1,000 available
Today sees the launch of this year’s application process to the Community Innovation Fund. The South Staffordshire Community Lottery has a small pot of funding which is funded from every ticket sold and South Staffordshire Council has committed this pot to the voluntary community and social enterprise sector in the district. Any community group, association, charitable organisation or community interest company benefitting the residents of South Staffordshire can apply, including good causes signed up to the Community Lottery. The closing date for applications is 5pm on Friday 8 January 2021.
- Re-opening of Council’s leisure centres
In line with the new Tier 3 restrictions, the Council’s four leisure centres in Cheslyn Hay, Codsall, Penkridge and Wombourne reopened their gyms, swimming pools, toning suites and badminton facilities last Wednesday. For more information and guidance about visiting your leisure centre, visit www.sstaffs.gov.uk to view the safety measures in place. For programme times, visit www.sstaffs.gov.uk/leisure.
Booking is essential for all activities and members can book online here:
Unfortunately, exercise classes cannot resume under the Tier 3 restrictions but live and online classes are available here. Due to demand, we have expanded our online exercise classes and we are now offering 25 classes per week. Classes are free to members. Non-members are invited to join their first class for free. To take out an online class membership giving unlimited access to online classes for £12 per month, complete a membership form and direct debit form and email [email protected].
Junior swimming lessons also restarted at Wombourne Leisure Centre on Thursday. Changing rooms have reopened but please note that capacity is restricted so swimmers are encouraged to bring everything they need should they be asked to ‘dry, dress and go’. Due to the number of customers who have asked to defer lessons until January 2021, swimming lessons will not restart at the other leisure centres until the New Year.
To keep up to date with the latest developments at our leisure centres, follow on Facebook or sign up to receive regular information e-bulletins here.
- National Grief Awareness Week (2-8 December 2020)
This week marks national Grief Awareness Week, an annual campaign to raise awareness of the impact of grief and get people talking about this often taboo subject. If you have been affected by a bereavement and need support, advice and guidance, please visit their website for information about charities and services that may be helpful.
- You are not alone
We are living in an unprecedented and stressful time and you may be feeling worried or depressed, lonely and isolated. It’s perfectly normal and the North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust launched a video this week with the messaging ‘You are not alone’. Click here to view the video, which features many different organisations from across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent. If you are concerned about your mental health or someone you care for, help is available 24/7 – call 0300 123 0907.
- Brick company helps county park’s conservation project
This winter, Baggeridge Country Park will be enhancing habitat areas for the rare and endangered White Clawed Crayfish. This native species is in decline, but the park is lucky to have a good population of them and wants to do more to protect the species. A request on Facebook this week proved successful with brick company Wienerberger donating structural bricks for the conservation project. The bricks contain holes that are perfect for the crayfish to hide inside in the water and keep them safe from predators.
- Tree planting at Sytch Lane Cemetery
Many thanks to the pupils from year four at St Benedict Biscop Primary School for helping plant 250 trees at Sytch Lane Cemetery on Wednesday 2 December 2020. The trees were donated to the Council from the Woodland Trust and have been used to create a new tree belt at the rear of the site near the natural burial meadow as part of national Tree Planting Week. We were grateful to the children for their help and also very impressed with their knowledge of climate change and the benefits of tree planting. Special thanks also to Ade, Chelsea and Tim from the Street Scene Tree Team for their help on the day.
- Temporary closure – bridleway
There will be a temporary closure of a bridleway due to the i54 South Staffordshire Western Extension works. The temporary closure will be from Thursday 3 December 2020 until Christmas Eve. View the emergency closure notice here and a map of the site here.
- Council job vacancies – COVID-19 Support Officers – application information.
- Next week’s Council Committee/Panel meetings
Council – Tuesday 8 December 2020 – 7pm – 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 protected]