Latest news from North Yorkshire on Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Including press releases and the latest news round-up (bulletin).

April 7 update

A message from Richard Flinton, Chief Executive

This week already nationally many hundreds more people have sadly lost their lives to COVID-19 and although the numbers have fluctuated a little, do not be under any misapprehension -  all the expert advice we have is that we are not yet at the peak of this outbreak. As we head towards Easter it’s critical to remember that if we don’t continue to stick rigidly to the national lock-down guidance we will lose even more people from our communities to this terrible virus. The news that the Prime Minister remains in intensive care is concerning and I am sure many of you join me in wishing him, and all those experiencing the impact of Coronavirus, a full and speedy recovery. The country and county need strong leadership and continued public support to get through this unprecedented period in our history.

Many of us will be looking out for our friends and neighbours already or, for those who are most vulnerable, relying on local voluntary groups and other support networks to help get things like food and medical supplies. One of the many wonderful things about North Yorkshire is our sense of community and I thank every one of the thousands of people out there right now doing what we do best here – supporting each other.  With that in mind I would like to make a personal plea. As we approach the Easter weekend we are trying really hard to offer our volunteer network a well-earned rest. Please help us by trying to plan now the help you will need regarding food shopping and other support so we can let them relax with their families. For anyone in desperate need we have our customer service professionals working through the period so no one without support needs to feel alone. They will work throughout and can be contacted on 01609 780780 it’s now open seven days a week.

Although PPE remains a concern, in addition to the deliveries we had last week, we have now also been given access to a national allocation from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. This will cover the York and North Yorkshire LRF area and, to ensure that this provision goes to those who need it most, we have set up an LRF panel. This expert panel, which includes Public Health, will meet daily to consider requests and allocate kit. At the County Council we also have very significant orders which are on their way from overseas to support and protect our front line staff.

We are trying hard to provide the best possible public services in these very trying times - health and social care; safeguarding; child care for key workers through the holidays; community support; highways services and so on. But it is getting harder and I am sure you will understand that we have to focus on these essential areas. Unfortunately, household waste centres will remain closed for now but we will reopen them to help you get rid of your waste as soon as the conditions allow. For now, please store waste from any gardening or home improvements carefully at home.

If you are lucky enough to live within walking distance of the thousands of miles of public rights of way in North Yorkshire - enjoy them while the weather is kind but please do so with care and especially where they pass through fields and gardens of people’s private homes. Ensure you observe the rules around staying at least 2 metres from others at all times and do not gather in groups.  We know there is some anxiety in some areas around this and so we ask you are particularly thoughtful.

A few months ago we could not have imagined the world we would be living and working in today. And so I would like to remind everyone that in the months ahead we will come through this – it will not go on forever – even though it can feel daunting at times at the moment. I would like to thank everyone who has helped reduce the impact so far in our county by adhering to the social distancing and essential travel only guidance and to ask you all stick with it. Stay safe, stay well and stay strong.

A message from Lincoln Sargeant, Director of Public Health

Global

The World Health Organization reports (07/01/20) that there have been 1,247,505 confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide, with 69,215 deaths. Currently 212 countries, areas or territories have reported cases.

Cases are currently increasing in many European states, including the UK’s closest geographical neighbours.

The UK

Public Health England data from 6th April shows that 208,837 people have been tested for COVID-19, of whom 51,608 tested positive. As of 5pm on 5 April, of those hospitalised in the UK who tested positive for coronavirus, 5,373 have sadly died.

New modelling published by Imperial College suggests that people with COVID-19 on average spread the disease to more people than originally thought (3.7 rather than 2.4). However, the number of people who will develop symptoms of COVID-19 is likely to be much lower than originally predicted (around 10% rather than 80%). This suggests an earlier and lower peak in cases and deaths than was previously thought, but also offers the possibility of re-emergence of COVID-19 into second and subsequent peaks.

North Yorkshire

The number of cases in North Yorkshire continues to increase. Monday 6th April saw a similar daily increase compared with the previous day, with 26 new cases identified, bringing the overall total to 269.  This focuses on people who have been admitted to hospital, which is expected to be around 8% of the total number of cases circulating in the community.

There have been relatively few deaths in hospitals covering North Yorkshire to date. Data is reported at trust level and it is not yet possible to determine deaths for North Yorkshire residents reliably.  All trusts apart from Harrogate serve large populations outside North Yorkshire.  Due to small numbers, there is considerable daily fluctuation.

Care Homes

There are 10 care homes with laboratory confirmed cases of COVID-19 and a further 10 with suspected cases.

Schools and Childcare

We have set up a series of hubs in schools and nurseries across North Yorkshire to make sure critical workers have childcare throughout bank holidays, weekends and other times where there is no other local provision.

These are located close to hospitals across the county and will care for pre-school and school-aged children of key workers from Good Friday. They will operate from 7.45am to 5.45pm and will continue to operate as long as they are needed throughout the pandemic.

The majority of schools in North Yorkshire are already remaining open over the Easter holidays for children of keyworkers, but the hubs will fill in gaps in childcare in the county.

The early years’ hubs for children 0 to 4 will begin from Good Friday and will operate seven days a week. There will be a maximum of ten places available for pre-school children in each hub and there will be qualified early years’ professionals on site.

The hubs for school-aged children will run on weekends and bank holidays only, as there is expected to be sufficient cover provided by North Yorkshire schools during the working week. The hubs will open on Friday, April 10 for the Easter weekend and there will be a maximum of 20 places available for the 4 to 12 age range. They will be staffed by people from the existing school workforce.

Parents and carers are asked to transport their children to and from the hubs and to provide them with packed lunches.

To book a place for a child in one of the hubs, a link to the booking site can be found on our website, along with a list of the hubs; https://www.northyorks.gov.uk/schools-and-childrens-services-during-coronavirus-covid-19

Parents are asked to pre-book places; this will also help us establish if there is a larger demand than anticipated, so we can adjust arrangements accordingly.

It has been a huge task to organise hubs across the county at such short notice and we are hugely grateful for the hard work, dedication and flexibility of all the school staff and our partners involved in making sure this happens and would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to them.

The hubs will be located at:

Craven area

  • Settle College (children attending school aged 4 to 12)
  • Greatwood, Skipton (children attending school aged 4 to 12)
  • Sutton-in-Craven CE Primary School (children attending school aged 4 to 12)
  • Brougham Street Nursery, Skipton (pre-school children aged 0 to 4) 

Hambleton area

  • Mill Hill Community Primary School, Northallerton (all children aged 0 to 12)
  • Hutton Rudby Primary School (children attending school aged 4 to 12)

Harrogate area

  • Harrogate, Grove Road (all children aged 0 to 12)
  • Ripon, Moorside Primary School (children attending school aged 4 to 12

Richmond and Catterick area

  • Richmond Methodist Primary School (children attending school aged 4 to 12)
  • Risedale Community College, Catterick (all children aged 0 to 12) 

Ryedale area

  • Malton Community Primary School (all children aged 0 to 12)

Scarborough and Whitby area

  • Whitby, Airy Hill Community Primary School (all children aged 0 to 12)
  • Barrowcliff School, Scarborough (children attending school aged 4 to 12)
  • Childhaven Day Nursery, Scarborough (pre-school children aged 0 to 4)
  • Kinder Place, Scarborough (pre-school children aged 0 to 4)

Selby Area

  • Barlby Community Primary School (all children aged 0 - 12) 

For children continuing to attend their existing school throughout the Easter holidays, home to school transport providers have been liaising with schools to find out whether there is a need to operate during the rest of the Easter holidays. Where transport operators have been unable to continue to transport pupils to school we have worked with schools to put in place alternative arrangements.

Schools are using different approaches to continue to provide free school meals, according to the resources they have. But all families who are in receipt of free school meals will continue to receive these and should contact their school for details.

We have also agreed to fund early years’ provision over the Easter holiday for the children of key workers, which will be based on their normal entitlement to funded childcare provision.

Key workers should check with their early years’ provider as to whether they are offering funded provision for key worker children during the Easter holiday period. 

For any key workers who still have problems accessing school or early years provision, please email cyps.covid19@northyorks.gov.uk  and provide full details, including your usual educational setting, the days needed for child care, any other issues and contact details.

Stuart Carlton, Corporate Director for the Children and Young People’s Service

 

Support for people in isolation

We are urging people who may need help and support during isolation to plan ahead ready for the bank holiday weekend so they are not left without food or other essentials if shops are closed and delivery services reduced. People are also being encouraged to look out for their neighbours and if they know someone is vulnerable and they are not able to help them, they can contact us and we will provide that support.

Our customer service centre is now open seven days a week 8am to 5:30pm and by putting plans in place for county council staff and additional volunteers to provide cover, our community support organisations and volunteers will be able to take a well-deserved break over Easter and recharge ready for what we anticipate will be an increase in demand. So far more than 4,000 people have made contact with our 23 community support organisations - who we are working with alongside our partners - for advice and support and 1,500 people have been helped by their volunteers with practical things like food shopping or prescription collections. The community response to this crisis is also aided by the countless other volunteers helping friends and supporting neighbours in their local areas, many as part of small coordinated groups.

We have now made calls to over 1,200 people who are being medically shielded and requested support because they are particularly vulnerable to make sure the national programme of food parcel deliveries is working. This is providing much needed reassurance that we are here for anyone who needs additional help and in some of these cases our community support organisations are providing that. We continue to reassure the public that no one should feel they are alone, if they need help they can contact the council’s customer service centre on 01609 780780 seven days a week.

People can find up to date information about community support including links to the COVID-19 pages of major supermarkets with information on opening hours and special arrangements are on our website at www.northyorks.gov.uk/coronavirus-advice-and-information.

 

Local economy

Trading Standards waives fees to offer free business advice.

Our Trading Standards service is offering free advice to businesses in the county to support them during the Covid-19 outbreak. The service will waive fees for its business advice for the next six months.

Trading Standards offers a range of advice services, which will be available free of charge to any North Yorkshire-based business. A specialist team of officers can provide advice on all aspects of trading standards law, including helping businesses to diversify into different product areas or to move their business online or to a takeaway service. 

Businesses that would like to use the service can contact the team on 01609 780780 or at business.advice@northyorks.gov.uk for more details or for advice on a specific query.

LEP News

Business responding to last week’s changes to Government loan schemes

Changes to the government-backed loan schemes were launched last week to increase the number of businesses eligible for this support. Updated details below.

Grassroots LEP Facebook Group connecting employers and individuals to job opportunities

Since its launch 2 weeks ago, over 200 people have joined this group to share job opportunities and skills swaps. We are now working with the DWP and National Careers Service to extend the reach of this group and support their efforts to manage displaced employees and workers as a result of COVID-19. Please join and support local businesses through this group https://www.facebook.com/groups/employmentandskillsYNYGH/

Communications key to driving awareness of business support

As we continue to navigate our way through this situation, never has it been more important to signpost businesses and organisations to support that is available. We are keen to promote the following as main sources of business support information:

Social Care and the NHS

North Yorkshire is moving its frontline social care teams into a new way of working this week to support local residents better and to help the NHS, as everyone responds to Covid-19.

For the time being, it will be a mix of business as usual in most services, alongside major changes to help local hospitals free up the beds they need to treat people who are critically ill and to try and avoid new admissions to hospital or 24-hour care unless vital.

From this week, North Yorkshire County Council’s social care teams are providing a seven-day-a-week 8am-8pm service:

  • Working with our main hospitals in Harrogate, Northallerton and Scarborough to support emergency discharges for people – they will also be linking into hospitals in Keighley, Middlesbrough and York, too, for same reasons;
  • Working with community health staff and GPs, based around groups of GP practices, to ensure emergency support and treatment for people in the community with Covid-19;
  • Support for people in the community with social care needs not related to Covid-19.

Some changes have also been made to day and respite care services, partly as a result of the national lockdown and social distancing measures and also in response to the need to provide sufficient hospital and care home beds to those people most in need.

In addition, the County Council’s Chief Executive, using emergency powers today, has also approved arrangements for even more far-reaching changes.  However, these changes will only be made if, and only if, North Yorkshire reaches a point where the increase in Covid-19 cases and deaths reaches the point where the impact on the community, the NHS and social care is so great that the County Council has to re-prioritise its social care work to focus primarily on supporting people with Covid-19 and any other urgent needs that people have.

Similar arrangements are being put in place by councils around the country, as a contingency, after Parliament approved the special measures set out in the Coronavirus Act 2020.

 “Our focus now is to keep people safe and well and to prevent admissions to hospital and to 24 hour care, wherever possible, so they can be used for people who are critically ill with Covid-19”, said Richard Webb, North Yorkshire’s Director for Health and Adult Services.

“Although North Yorkshire so far has not seen as many Covid-19 cases as in other parts of the country, numbers are increasing and we are starting to support more people with Covid in the community.

“We would like to thank people for their patience where we have already had to make changes to services and we are doing our best to stay in touch and keep support going, even if this has to be done in a different way.

“We hope that we do not have to put in place the more radical measures that have been agreed today, but we have them available if we need to use them.

The County Council is taking the following urgent steps to alleviate potential pressures brought about by Covid-19 and the increased demand for services:

  • Recruiting to an additional 395 posts, both within the County Council and the wider care sector, with a rapid recruitment process and a campaign to attract people to adult social care positions from other sectors of the economy negatively affected by Covid-19:   https://www.northyorks.gov.uk/careandsupport;
  • Re-deployment from other parts of the council to support adult social care;
  • Bringing social care workers back from retirement;
  • Purchasing around 200 additional care home beds across North Yorkshire;
  • Contacting and supporting people who have direct payments or individual service funds to organise their own care;
  • Informing people of potential changes to any financial contributions they may make to the cost of care services and signposting people to its online financial assessment service: www.northyorks.gov.uk/financial-assessment

In addition, for people who do not necessarily require social care or NHS services, but who cannot be supported by family or friends, the County Council is working with partners to provide advice and support, including through a network of 23 community hubs, led by the voluntary sector: https://www.northyorks.gov.uk/coronavirus-covid-19-community-support

“We have been working around the clock to prepare our services to meet the urgent challenge presented by Covid-19” said Richard Webb.

“We are extremely grateful to people who use our services, and to all of our staff, partner agencies and volunteers who are pulling together to meet this national emergency.  So many people are making a very big contribution to help others.

“To support this effort, we will continue to urge our residents to play their part in keeping safe and well by following the Government regulations - stay home, stay safe, wash your hands, look out for friends and family and if you must go out for essential trips, please keep at least two metres (seven feet) away from other people.”

People in need of support should contact the County Council Customer Services Centre on 01609 780780.  The centre is open seven days a week 8am-5:30pm

For more information go to: www.northyorks.gov.uk/coronavirus

Key Public Health Services

The Public Health team has been working closely with providers to adapt and maintain access to essential Public Health services.  Many have moved to remote access models and work continues as the situation progresses. Details of all service provision can be found here:

https://www.northyorks.gov.uk/public-health-services-during-coronavirus-covid-19

Communications

NYCC’s website has a dedicated area for all the latest COVID-19 related news click on the link above for more information and advice. Follow us on social media @northyorkscc on Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Advice on things to do

Household Waste Recycling Centres

In March we made the difficult decision to close all of our HWRCs for the safety of staff and to discourage any unnecessary travel as part of the Government’s drive to slow the spread of Covid-19.

Whilst the HWRCS’s are closed we are encouraging everyone to minimise the amount of rubbish, recycling and food waste produced. There are many ways in which we can all re-use items or find other uses for things we would otherwise throw away- for example: using plastic tubs with lids to store leftovers or cutting up old sheets and towels to use as dusters and cleaning cloths.

There are many ways we can contribute towards minimising our waste, visit the sites below for more hints and tips:

Staying indoors over the bank holiday weekend­­

There are so many things we can do on our doorstep. Discover what is just outside your window and stay home: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/lists/50-things-activities-to-do-in-your-back-garden

Gardening is great for mental and physical health, it’s a great way to express yourself. Try getting creative with containers; planting in an old pair of shoes, jeans, or furniture. Your upcycling will also be helping the environment, turning trash into something useful.

Some garden centres across North Yorkshire remain open and are offering delivery. Visit your local garden centres Facebook page and website to see if they are open and what they have to offer. Some examples of open businesses:

Virtual links

Lots of museums, Zoos and other tourist spots are live streaming their day’s and most are offering virtual tours as something to do whilst staying at home. See links below to find out what is going on across the county. Take a look and see if somewhere local to you is live streaming their day.

North Yorkshire Council Council News

A message from Richard Flinton, Chief Executive

This week has been another very difficult week for us all. Nationally we are seeing infection rates, and very sadly the number of deaths, rise significantly. Today’s UK figures are desperately sad.  Confirmed cases in North Yorkshire are also rising, as you will see from our Director of Public Health’s update below. While we are certainly not in the position of some of the worst hit areas – we anticipate that both positive test results and the number of people who lose their lives to this virus will continue to rise here too over the coming weeks. This is a very dangerous virus that we must make every effort together to battle.

A new campaign launched nationally is very clear on the importance of social distancing and each of us undertaking essential travel only, to help save lives. This campaign tells us to act as though we all have it and therefore take the maximum care in our daily lives – adhering stringently to the lock-down guidance. Put frankly those who don’t adhere are putting the lives of others at risk. I have also been asked by our county police gold commander to reiterate the fact that they will be out on the roads again over the weekend and coming Bank Holidays and will turn away people away who do not live here permanently.  Accessing second homes is not essential travel. It’s important to also remember – with the weekend forecast for good weather - that you should not gather in coastal communities or other beauty spots. The instruction is to exercise from your doorstep once a day not to travel to other places for this.

It is also a week in which we have seen more outstanding work by so many critical workers. Despite the NHS facing the ‘greatest challenge’ in its history, five nightingale hospitals are being kitted out from scratch across the country. This includes the new facility at Harrogate Convention Centre which will provide additional facilities for those critically ill – including any patients from our county, if that become necessary. NHS staff have done in days what would usually take months or years. That resilience and conviction is evident too with our own teams who are – as I write -  implementing a brand new model for health and social care services. This tremendous achievement will mean we can take some pressure off our NHS colleagues and provide the right level of care for non-critical patients away from hospital.  It is a really fantastic achievement that will make a big difference for our county in its response to this virus.

Nationally you will have heard about the difficulties experienced in getting appropriate Personal Protective Equipment for many frontline staff. This remains a concern despite how hard we have worked to get what we need for our health and social care staff, social workers and others on the frontline. While we have resolved some of our problems and been able to take delivery of sanitising gel, aprons and protective goggles – we still await significant deliveries of crucial face masks. I will keep you informed on progress.  Donations and provisions from local businesses have been very welcome and there is more on that below.

The huge community response efforts also continue at pace. Our customer service staff have already contacted hundreds of people we know are in isolation due to vulnerabilities. Early feedback is that this is very well received. We do not want anyone to feel they are alone and our community partners have risen to this challenge with remarkable vigour to lead this piece of work where it’s needed.

From next week a multi-agency coordination centre will operate from 3 Racecourse Lane, Northallerton.  This will offer all partners the opportunity to share systems and facilities – with strict social distancing and hygiene measures in place. This will further enhance our multi-agency working and should be a reassuring move for all.

As globally confirmed COVID-19 cases exceed one million, I can assure you that the partners involved in our north Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum continue to do everything possible to mitigate and plan for impacts from this unprecedented crisis here.

Please stay safe and stick to all the rules. We all need to continue – now more than ever – to do our bit to help save lives in our county and protect the NHS.

North Yorkshire County Council

Public Health Update

Global

The WHO reports:

  • 972,640 confirmed cases (up 114,999)
  • 50,325 deaths (up 8319)
  • 206 countries, areas or territories with cases

Nations with cases (31/03/20):

Country and rank Cases Deaths
1.USA 213,600 4,793
2. Italy 115,242 13,917
3. Spain 110,238 10,003
8. UK 33,722 2,921

 

Cases are currently increasing in many European states, including the UK’s closest geographical neighbours.

The UK is thought to be 2 to 3 weeks behind Italy on the epidemic curve.  The Italian outbreak took off in the last week of February and there are early signs of a slowdown in cases from the last week in March.  For the UK, the epidemic took off in the second week of March, suggesting early signs of a slowdown in the increase might happen in the second week of April.  North Yorkshire may be lagging behind the UK as a whole.

The UK

Public Health England data shows there were 33,718 cases in the UK on 2nd April. Cases have doubled in 5 days: on 28th March there were 17,100 cases. There have been 2,921 deaths recorded, doubling in 4 days from 1,400 on 30th March.

North Yorkshire

The number of cases in North Yorkshire continues to increase. The 2nd April saw a smaller daily increase compared with the previous day, with 14 new cases identified, bringing the overall total to 163. Cases continue to increase exponentially and, despite this fall in new cases, it is anticipated that daily new cases will continue to increase. Cases are those confirmed by test, there is likely to be ten times that number in the community.

You will see from all of this how critical it is that everyone continues to play their part in obeying all the health and hygiene messages issued by PHE and the NHS. Protect yourselves and help save lives while we face the very challenging days and weeks still to come.

Dr Lincoln Sargeant, Director of Public Health for North Yorkshire

Schools and Childcare

The majority of schools catering for the children of critical workers will remain open over the Easter holiday.  However, to meet any gaps in provision we are setting up a series of additional childcare hubs across the county.  

Some of these new hubs will cater for school-aged children and some will cater for pre-school children 0-4.   They will operate from nearby schools and nurseries and will be close to local hospitals. Parents can book onto the hubs for a full or half day and they will open from 7.45am to 5.45pm.

The new early years’ hubs 0 to 4 will be open from Good Friday and will operate seven days a week. There will be a maximum of ten places available for pre-school children in each hub.

The new hubs for school-aged children aged 4-12 will only run on weekends and the Easter bank holiday (including Good Friday) as there is expected to be sufficient cover from North Yorkshire schools during the normal working week. They will offer a maximum of 20 places.

The new hubs will be staffed from the existing school workforce.

Home to school transport

There will be no home to school transport provided on Good Friday, Easter Monday or over any weekends to any school or hub and we ask that on those days, parents and carers are responsible for transporting children to school.

Home to school transport providers are liaising with schools to find out whether there is a need to operate during the rest of the Easter holidays.

If transport operators don’t have the ability to continue to transport pupils to school, then alternative arrangements are being put in place between ourselves and the schools.

For any critical workers who are having problems accessing school or early years provision, please email us on cyps.covid19@northyorks.gov.uk and provide full details, including your usual educational setting, the days needed for child care, any other issues and contact details.

Free school meals

Schools in North Yorkshire are using different approaches to continue to provide free school meals, according to the resources they have. But all families who are entitled to free school meals will continue to receive these or vouchers during term time and should contact their school for details.

Early years funding

We have agreed to fund early years’ provision over the Easter holiday for the children of critical workers so they can continue with their vital contribution to the Covid-19 response.  The additional funding will be based on their normal entitlement to funded childcare provision.

Critical workers should check with their early years’ provider as to whether they are offering funded provision for critical worker children during the Easter holiday period. 

If you are a critical worker and you are having difficulty accessing early years childcare during the Easter holiday period please contact 01609 780780 or email cyps.covid19@northyorks.gov.uk

Stuart Carlton, Director of Children and Young People’s Services

Adult Learning and Skills Service

Our team’s delivery methods have moved to more creative online options, adapting their timetables to suit those learners that also need to home school their children and changing perceptions about learning online. Colleagues have taken on the integration of new technologies and systems readily and are sharing their experiences daily.

Family Learning teachers have been sending out activities over the Easter period. Families will be keeping in touch with each other while drawing, sharing and commenting on each other’s work on Google Classroom

Maths and English courses are continuing online. The feedback is that the learners really appreciate the bespoke delivery and are very keen to continue their studies. Adults can join new courses starting from 20th April.

‘Ask the Teacher’ has been set up for parents and carers to message ALSS directly through social media for learners who need some support with their children’s homework.

Supporting the mental health of all our learners is very important to us. Teachers and advisers are ensuring regular contact with more vulnerable learners and advising them of activities that will help them to manage the challenges of social isolation and stay connected to the service. 

For more information visit:  https://www.facebook.com/NorthYorkshireAdultLearning

Support for people in isolation

Over the past two days our Customer Service staff have proactively contacted more than 300 people who are self-isolating as a result of what’s known as the government shield. These are the people in North Yorkshire who have been asked to stay at home for 12 weeks because they are particularly vulnerable and our staff are making sure they get the help they need. These calls are being well received and seem to be good reassurance for residents that they are not alone. Food parcels for these residents are starting to arrive and are organised by central government. Work has been happening in parallel with this and a huge effort has gone into collating data for people who meet these criteria in our county. We have put in place a plan B in case it’s needed for anyone who needs that support and doesn’t receive it.

For other people self-isolating community support organisations continue to deliver outstanding results, with requests for help with food deliveries, shopping and collecting prescriptions making up the majority of their calls with some for befriending services. Calls to the community support organisations are increasing every day as both ourselves and our colleagues in the districts share and promote messages that help is out there for anyone who doesn’t have family, friends and neighbours to help them. We are committed to providing these 23 hubs with the resources they need to keep delivering this critical service and this week we provided finance and administrative support to our community support organisation in Thirsk within 24 hours of it being requested.

We are sending a clear message that nobody should feel they are alone and that we are working hard with our partners to make sure people do not get missed. People can now call our customer service centre seven days a week to be signposted to the right support. Our Facebook post reached almost 4k people in the first two hours.

Another important priority being progressed at speed this week is our Universal Plus offer. Although this term will only be used internally with partners and community support organisations, Universal Plus will bridge a much needed crossover between community support and health and adult services. It will match people who have low level care needs with a solution that is beyond what our community support organisations are able to offer. This is a crucial part of our approach to making sure nobody ‘falls through the net’. The processes around this are currently being tested with colleagues in adult social care and our aim is that this will be fully implemented next week.

Our message to the public remains unchanged. No one should feel alone, if they need help they can contact the council’s customer service centre on 01609 780780. We are also adding information to the website daily about national supermarkets to include opening hours and arrangements for vulnerable customers.

Self-isolating and looking for something to do? Don’t forget our huge resources in online library

While libraries are closed, our digital library service offers thousands of e-books, e-audio books, newspapers, magazines, comics, reference works and educational resources that people can access at any time. We anticipate increased demand for e-books and e-audio, so have placed an order to make more copies available.

All the digital services can be found at www.northyorks.gov.uk/digital-library. To use these, you will need your library card number and PIN number. If you do not know your PIN, call 01609 533878 and one will be issued. If you are not a library member and wish to join, just ring the same number.

For anyone who borrowed books, DVDs or CDs from a library before the closure, the loan period for all physical items has been extended to three months, so there is no need to worry about accruing fines.

Nationwide cultural initiatives

Over the past week, arts and cultural organisations have launched a range of digital initiatives to make sure extraordinary national collections and performances can be enjoyed by everyone whilst following the latest guidance from public health experts to stay at home.

Existing initiatives include:

More information here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/culture-at-your-fingertips-from-home

Local economy

Changes to Government loan schemes welcomed

Yesterday, the Chancellor launched new changes to the government-backed loan schemes to increase the number of businesses eligible for this support.

  1. Extended Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) 
    The Government has extended the CBILS so that all viable small businesses affected by COVID-19, and not just those unable to secure regular commercial financing, will now be eligible should they need finance to keep operating during this difficult time. 

    The government is also stopping lenders from requesting personal guarantees for loans under £250,000 and making operational changes to speed up lending approvals. The government will continue to cover the first twelve months of interest and fees. Please find further details here: https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-scheme

  2. New Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS)
    The new CLBILS will ensure that more firms are able to benefit from government-backed support during this difficult time. It will provide a government guarantee of 80% to enable banks to make loans of up to £25 million to firms with an annual turnover of between £45 million and £500 million. 

Loans backed by a guarantee under CLBILS will be offered at commercial rates of interest and further details of the scheme will be announced later this month. Please find initial details here:https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/coronavirus-large-business-interruption-loan-scheme

 

Struggling business sectors

After several weeks of lockdown and with the impending Easter holidays that will prove difficult for working parents, businesses are feeling the strain.

Tourism businesses (accommodation, visitor attractions, and events) are the most at risk as many of the smaller B&B businesses start the 2020 season in debt with no positive revenue outlook in the coming months, given the lockdown over Easter which is likely to continue into the summer period. Welcome to Yorkshire and partners are working hard to address the challenges this sector faces.

Banks and engaging with businesses

Small business has found it challenging to engage with banks and local bank teams, but this is improving. Support is needed for businesses with business planning so that are best prepared for conversations with lenders. Assets are being developed with this aim in mind.

If you think there is a gap in support for businesses, either from the government or locally – please contact us and we’ll feed that in directly: enquiries@businessinspiredgrowth.com

The key workers ensuring other key workers can do their jobs

Key highways workers continue to help other key workers, including those in the NHS and social care, to deliver their essential services efficiently.

We and our highways contractors, including main contractor Ringway, are delivering roads maintenance during the Covid-19 outbreak to ensure that others who need to travel to provide crucial services or deliver vital food and other supplies can do so with confidence.

By keeping the county’s roads in good repair our highways workers are providing an essential service. It is important that the standard of our roads is maintained for NHS staff, social care workers, teachers, delivery drivers and others providing essential services.

We and our contractors take very seriously Government guidance around social distancing and the need for workers to stay safe and are observing the guidance on social distancing.

Since the current Government restrictions were introduced on 23 March, our highways service has received more than 500 service requests from customers and we have repaired almost 800 defects on the county’s highways network. Alongside this ongoing work, we intend to begin our annual surface dressing programme as soon as possible in the weeks after Easter.

Residents urged to keep waste to a minimum

Householders are encouraged to reduce the waste they create while the county’s household waste recycling centres (HWRCs) are temporarily closed and kerbside collection services are under pressure.

Our 20 HWRCs closed in March for the safety of staff and to discourage unnecessary travel. District and borough councils will prioritise collection of general waste for public health reasons.

We understand that while people are confined at home they may generate more waste, particularly if they have food and other essentials delivered. We ask them to minimise this as far as possible to support the efforts of the refuse collection teams.

Consider carefully any DIY or gardening projects. Bulky waste created can’t be taken to a household waste recycling centre and bulky items or garden waste should not be added to your general waste bin. Bulky waste would need to be stored at your home until the HWRCs are able to reopen. If you don’t have space, please don’t do such work.

Do not fly tip. It is an offence punishable by fines or imprisonment and offenders will be prosecuted.

Enquiries about kerbside collections should be made to district or borough councils.

Social Care and the NHS

We are now mobilising on the new temporary model for social care that we have developed to meet the anticipated demands of Covid-19 and the Hospital Discharge Requirement Guidance that came into effect on 19th March 2020.

From this weekend our teams will be providing cover on the hospital Discharge Command Hubs seven days a week from 8am – 8pm. This will include the bank holidays.

We are also finalising arrangements for our locality Response and Delivery Hubs with our NHS, Primary Care and District partners.  The Response and Delivery Hubs will provide support to people in the community as well as following up on those who may need ongoing support following their discharge from hospital. This will include safeguarding as well as care coordination. These hubs also operate from 8am-8pm seven days a week.

We are briefing key partners over the coming week and are making this information available to the public on our website.

Many people who use our services, for example our day services and respite/short break services, are following Government advice on social distancing and shielding to protect many vulnerable people.  Therefore, we have reviewed our provision to ensure we continue to offer a service to those people that need it, by keeping in touch or by providing a service from other buildings across the county. This will free up some of our building bases to provide additional support to hospital discharges across the county. We had our first admission into the additional bed capacity on Thursday 2nd April.

We are now involved in rapid recruitment and redeployment to ensure we have the right resources in place to meet the demand expected. We are also working through the updated guidance on PPE and care home admissions to ensure we are able to share accessible information to our teams, our providers and the people we support.

Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)

A close network of Yorkshire companies has rallied round to source supplies of much needed personal protection equipment for North Yorkshire’s care workers.

Due to difficulties in our national supply arrangements our senior officers spent much of last weekend on the phone to business associates across the region who could help in the crucial sourcing of PPE.  In particular, we were in search of Type II R fluid-resistant surgical masks, so that carers can continue to carry out their critical work safely during the Covid-19 pandemic in looking after older and disabled people.

As a result of collective effort and calls late into the night, Skipton company Deliver Net, which procures medical and cleaning products for care companies, linked in with the County Council to make a delivery this week of 11,000 of these urgently needed face masks.

Deliver Net is one of 7 distributors of PPE nationally chosen by the Department for Health and Social Care in a bid to quality assure products and to minimise profiteering. We could not ask more of our business partners. As soon as we put the call out about the need to maintain our PPE stocks and the need to extend our supply chain, the business community pulled out all the stops on our behalf. 

We continue to press ahead with our own established channels for PPE supply, but we are buoyed by this quick response from regional business.  We have also been supported with emergency back-up supplies from a range of other local companies, including the natural oils firm O&3, co-founded by Jennifer Wood, Eleanor Wade and Thomas Kerfoot – the three children of David Kerfoot, chair of the York and North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership.

The company has sourced thousands of respiration face masks from a supplier in China that are now on their way to North Yorkshire.  Other local companies in the county have this week given and delivered a broad range of face mask types for use as back-up if supplies of Type II R masks are disrupted, including highways contractor Ringway; construction industry supplier Hansons UK and l’Ansons, animal feed supplier in Masham.

It is very heart-warming to know we have so much help out there in meeting this critical challenge but the problem carries on; the challenge continues as we struggle with national supply and so we need people to continue to rally to our cause.  Our carers need all the supplies and support we can get to them and we are turning over every stone to make sure we keep these supplies going.

In particular, we would welcome any further supplies of Type II R fluid-resistant face masks and disposable eye protection to keep care workers safe and protected.

But people across our communities can also play a fundamental part in fighting coronavirus and keeping people safe.  The key message we want to get across to all our North Yorkshire residents continues to be - if you want to save lives and help the NHS and our care sector, stay at home, wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water and if you must go out for essential supplies keep at least a two metre distance from other people. 

New PPE guidance has been produced by PH England today https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-infection-prevention-and-control/covid-19-personal-protective-equipment-ppe

Advice on social care

People who use our adult social care services; have a direct payment; use our public health services; and/or need information for their family and friend carers can go to our document https://www.northyorks.gov.uk/coronavirus-covid-19-service-disruption#HAS   (an easy read version is also available to download).  They can also call 01609 780780 between 8am and 5.30pm Monday to Friday for further advice.  Outside those hours, if it is an urgent social care issue, they can contact the Emergency Duty Team on the same number.

Direct payments

Information about Direct Payments in North Yorkshire is available on the County Council’s website: https://www.northyorks.gov.uk/direct-payments

Guidance for care providers
We are in contact with care providers and are signposting them to government guidance that sets out:

Translated information   

Information for residents is available in a range of languages: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-social-distancing-and-for-vulnerable-people  (more translated material is being developed by PHE)

Useful links

Information about COVID-19, including advice on shielding vulnerable people, is available from: www.gov.uk/coronavirus

For information in North Yorkshire, more information can be found here:  https://www.northyorks.gov.uk/coronavirus

www.northyorks.gov.uk/coronavirus-covid-19-community-support

The BBC also has a range of useful stories, advice sheets and videos https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/world-51939591 

Public Health

Looking after your mental health and wellbeing

The pandemic is having an impact on everyone’s lives and, for many, this also has a negative impact on their general mental health and wellbeing. Everyone reacts differently, but, for some people, staying at home may make them feel bored, lonely or isolated - whilst others may feel scared and anxious about their own health and that of their family. It is important that we look after our psychological health as well as our physical health at this time.

The government has released new guidance to help us look after our mental health which includes help to deal with negative emotions, and tips for mental health self-help. It is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-the-public-on-mental-health-and-wellbeing/guidance-for-the-public-on-the-mental-health-and-wellbeing-aspects-of-coronavirus-covid-19

The Every Mind Matters website includes a short video about how to exercise at home, plus advice and tips on how to maintain good mental health and manage anxiety during social distancing and isolation: https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/

These are also useful links on how to stay physically and mentally well:

Communications

Please be aware of false information online

Please look out for false information particularly online and encourage people to get information from trusted sources only. The successful ‘Don’t Feed the Beast’ public information campaign has launched to empower people to question what they read online.

The announcement: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-cracks-down-on-spread-of-false-coronavirus-information-online

At the County Council our website is updated several times a day and our social media and media responses are being widely shared and reproduced. There are increasing numbers of disruptions to services linked to the COVID-19 outbreak – the latest information can be found here: https://www.northyorks.gov.uk/coronavirus-covid-19-service-disruption

All our latest press releases can be found here: https://www.northyorks.gov.uk/news 

 

A message from Richard Flinton, Chief Executive

This week in North Yorkshire, we are focussed very much on finalising the preparations for the launch of a new model for the delivery of essential health and social care services. The aim of this new approach is simple - to provide the right care for people in the community so that critical care beds in hospitals can be released for those in desperate need linked to the COVID-19 outbreak. While the aim may sound simple, this is an incredibly complex piece of work that would usually take six months, however, together with our partners, we have completed this in two weeks. Staff are currently being briefed for imminent implementation and I will be able to say more about this in the days ahead. I am inspired by the dedication of all involved to overcome any difficulties and to think of new and innovative ways to deliver these vital healthcare services to our residents. Thank you.

To deliver some of this community support, I hope you will also have seen our recruitment drive yesterday. We are urging people to join our workforce to meet the unprecedented logistical and humanitarian challenge of caring for older people and others in need during this crisis. We are looking for cooks, drivers, home care workers, people offering companionship, alongside professionally qualified people in counselling and who have therapy skills. We will need all the help we can get, to meet the challenges, if we are to emerge on the other side in the best possible place as a county.

Our help for the self-isolating and vulnerable is gathering momentum and the first government food parcels to those behind the Government shield are due this week. This will relate to several thousand people in North Yorkshire. But there are tens of thousands of additional residents self-isolating for other vulnerabilities and our joint community support plans are now in place and operating extremely well to respond to that huge challenge.

This is thanks to the professionalism of the county and district council staff as well as the outstanding efforts of the 23 groups we are all working with in the community and voluntary sector. We hope this concerted and joined-up effort means no one in North Yorkshire needs to be without the food and medication, help and support they require in their hour of need. We do not want anyone to feel alone or isolated. I will repeat what I have said previously – if people do not have friends, family, neighbours, local groups or support networks around them, they can call us on 01609 780780 and we will get them the help they need.

Our £1m COVID grant support scheme (taken from our reserves), designed to help the most vulnerable with limited means to pay through a 14-day period of isolation, is also up and running. The scheme will help a variety of people including anyone over 70 to pay for food and other household essentials with help from the community support organisations. People can apply for a grant by contacting the customer service centre on the number above.

Our shops and supermarkets also have an important role to play in supporting our residents. Many are already responding well, but I appeal to them to think hard about what else they can do to help those most vulnerable.

No one wants to be in this position – but we are all here. How we come through this, will be dependent on our resilience and strength as a county. So, in closing today I would like to reiterate that we have some way to go in this fight and, as I have said before, our toughest moments are likely still to come. So, please pace yourselves and stay focussed on doing your bit to delay the spread. Obey the social distancing and ‘essential travel only’ rules, support your communities, protect the most vulnerable and do what we do best in North Yorkshire -  stay strong and stay safe.

Further information on the above can be found here:

North Yorkshire County Council

Schools and Childcare

We are working with schools and other education providers to put in place childcare over the Easter holidays for those key workers who need it.

Together, we are working with suppliers and other school contractors to make sure we have all the resources, including catering and cleaning arrangements, in place to cover as much of the holidays as possible. Over the next few days we will be finalising these details and schools will be contacting parents. We are hugely grateful for the hard work, dedication and flexibility of all the school staff involved in making sure this happens and would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to them.

While the pandemic is ongoing, it is also important we maintain our focus on the safety of all children and young people.

North Yorkshire Safeguarding Children Partnership has created a new, online resource containing information on safeguarding children and young people during the coronavirus outbreak.  This online information is constantly reviewed and updated.

The page can be accessed via the NYSCP home page and also via the direct link to the page

Key workers with queries about emergency childcare should email cyps.covid19@northyorks.gov.uk. Please include full details including the educational setting, days needed, the issue and your contact details.

Stuart Carlton, Director of Children and Young People’s Services

Support for people in isolation

We have a three tier approach to this challenge.  In the first instance we ask people to turn to friends, family or neighbours for help, the next line of support is via the very many community groups across the county springing up, then there are the established 23 community support organisations we are working with. If there are people with no access to any of these support mechanisms, they can call our professional customer service staff who will help them get the support they need.

Our 23 community support organisations (CSOs) are now entering their 3rd week of operation providing vital help to people in self-isolation who don’t have friends or family support.  The CSOs provide a single point of contact for localities and work with a range of local charities and volunteer groups to match people’s needs to the best groups to help them.   In a number of areas, the CSOs are working with other covid19-mutual aid groups and spontaneous volunteer groups that have been set up via social media, in a collective community effort to help those people who need support.

In their first week, Scarborough CSO alone, delivered 56 prescriptions, answered over 250 calls, and provided shopping and meals to more than 80 people; their databank of over 100 essential food and provision suppliers is helping local people access fresh food and essential items.

Anyone without help and support from family, friends or neighbours can be ‘matched’ to the community support organisation nearest to them by calling our customer service centre on 01609 780780.

To make sure that nobody ‘falls through the net’, and that there is added resilience for the CSOs, we are developing a Universal Plus for people who may have additional care needs. This enhanced community support will help people who are self-isolating and have additional low level care or health needs and will be managed through a dedicated team. This is in design at the moment, so not operational yet, but we will have more information next week.

This week we are making the £1m COVID grant support scheme available to help the most vulnerable with limited means through a 14-day period of isolation. This is being managed by our CSOs. The scheme will help a variety of people, including those over 70, to pay for food and other household essentials. People can apply for a grant by contacting the customer service centre on 01609 780780. We are pleased to say that our Harrogate CSO processed their first application yesterday and were able to issue their first grant.  

For people identified by the government as being extremely vulnerable, due to specific medical conditions, and who are being shielded for 12 weeks, a food parcel will be delivered directly to their homes in the next few days. This is expected to include an estimated 10,000 people in North Yorkshire. We are adding our own data to the central government lists, and have a food distribution network on standby to run alongside the national offer to make sure anyone who needs this additional support receives it. We are also encouraging retailers in the county, who can deliver food, to let us know; we are working with local branches of national supermarkets to agree bulk-buying arrangements to support food banks, volunteers and key workers.

Our data and information team is updating our North Yorkshire Connect directory so people and families can search for what local support is available in their neighbourhood.

Please look at our online well-being service for anyone in North Yorkshire who is looking for advice and help on how to stay well during this period of self-isolation and social distancing.

Self-isolating and looking for something to do? Don’t forget our huge resources in online library

While libraries are closed, our digital library service offers thousands of e-books, e-audio books, newspapers, magazines, comics, reference works and educational resources that people can access at any time.

We anticipate increased demand for e-books and e-audio, so have placed an order to make more copies available.

All the digital services can be found here. To use these, you will need your library card number and PIN number. If you do not know your PIN, call 01609 533878 and one will be issued. If you are not a library member and wish to join, just ring the same number.

For anyone who borrowed books, DVDs or CDs from a library before the closure, the loan period for all physical items has been extended to three months, so there is no need to worry about accruing fines.

Nationwide cultural initiatives

Over the past week, arts and cultural organisations have launched a range of digital initiatives to make sure extraordinary national collections and performances can be enjoyed by everyone whilst following the latest guidance from public health experts to stay at home.

Existing initiatives include:

More information can be found here.

Social Care and the NHS

We are carrying out a huge operation with NHS and social care colleagues across the County to mobilise staff to work in a new way to respond to Covid-19 so that we can:

  • Keep people safe and well;
  • Free up North Yorkshire’s share of the 30,000 hospital beds that are required nationally;
  • Prevent any unnecessary admissions to hospitals and 24/7 care, so that these services can be available for people who are critically ill.

These actions will result in changes to how hospital, primary care and community health and social care services work currently.

In order to make these changes work, we have also launched our “Your Community Needs You!” campaign, calling on people as a matter of urgency to join our care and support workforce at this critical period during the coronavirus pandemic.

We know that people want to help their communities and we have a huge army of volunteers stepping up with support of many kinds at this time.  However, for those who can, we are encouraging people to commit to work for us to make sure we can continue to support older people and other adults with disabilities, mental health issues and health conditions over the coming months.

For people whose current employment is taking a temporary downturn (for example if they work in retail, hospitality or tourism or are self-employed); or they have finished further education earlier than anticipated; or they are looking for temporary employment to support you with immediate income; or for those just keen to do their bit to help the county, we are urging them to apply immediately.

We work with adults of all ages from 18 upwards who may be frail or have multiple health conditions; people with learning and physical disabilities; and people with mental health issues, including dementia. We also work to support family carers.

There are many ways in which people can work and there is no requirement for specific experience or expertise in social care to help. Full training and support will be provided. If people are caring and compassionate and willing to get stuck in, we will have a role for them.

The ways in which people can help, may include:

  • Cooking meals and preparing snacks and drinks;
  • General housekeeping;
  • Driving to collect supplies, shopping and delivering vital equipment;
  • Helping people to get washed and dressed or get ready for bed;
  • Conversation and companionship and social activities - in person or by telephone or online;
  • Helping with physical activity;
  • Helping people to use technology so they can keep connected and keep well;
  • Accredited counselling and therapeutic skills; and
  • Organisation, co-ordination and administration - getting things done!

As we respond to the pandemic, there will be flexibility in the provision of services: face-to-face where necessary in people’s homes, whether they live alone or live in a care home or an extra care housing scheme; in short breaks or day services and out in the community (with due precautions taken to reduce the risk of Covid-19 infection).  The help could also be online or by telephone where that works better for people. 

As the response will be 24/7 people can consider availability for a variety of hours and times.

Please Note:

  • People can register their interest and apply straight away. If successful, the Council hopes to start people in jobs within one week after quick clearance checks. 
  • Please go to https://www.northyorks.gov.uk/careandsupport

If people are interested in care and support as a new career, we can look to consider permanent work, too.

Advice on social care

People who use our adult social care services; have a direct payment; use our public health services; and/or need information for their family and friend carers can go to our document (an easy read version is also available to download). They can also call 01609 780780 between 8am and 5.30pm Monday to Friday for further advice.  Outside those hours, if it is an urgent social care issue, they can contact the Emergency Duty Team on the same number.

Direct payments

Information about Direct Payments in North Yorkshire is available on the County Council’s website.

Guidance for care providers

We are in contact with care providers and are signposting them to government guidance that sets out:

  • How to maintain delivery of care in the event of an outbreak or widespread transmission of COVID-19
  • What to do if care workers or individuals being cared for have symptoms of COVID-19

Translated information   

Information for residents is available in a range of languages (more translated material is being developed by PHE).

Useful links

Public Health

Looking after your mental health and wellbeing

The pandemic is having an impact on everyone’s lives and, for many, this also has a negative impact on their general mental health and wellbeing. Everyone reacts differently, but, for some people, staying at home may make them feel bored, lonely or isolated - whilst others may feel scared and anxious about their own health and that of their family. It is important that we look after our psychological health as well as our physical health at this time.

The government has released new guidance to help us look after our mental health which includes help to deal with negative emotions, and tips for mental health self-help.

The Every Mind Matters website includes a short video about how to exercise at home, plus advice and tips on how to maintain good mental health and manage anxiety during social distancing and isolation.

These are also useful links on how to stay physically and mentally well:

Local Democracy

This week and next week, a series of Skype meetings are being held with the members of the County Council’s six Area Constituency Committees.  These committees are based upon the six MP constituencies and are intended to enable our county councillors to respond to local issues that have a strategic significance to the Council. 

The Skype meetings will be informal and cover a range of issues including: what work the councillors are doing in there patch to support communities; any issues of concern in their patch that the Council can help with; and updates on the work that the Council is doing, with partners, to develop community hubs.  These meetings will also give our councillors an opportunity to catch-up with each other and to share information and ideas.

The intention is to complete one round of informal meetings and then see whether it is helpful to have further meetings.  Democratic Services will follow-up by phone with any councillor who was unable to engage in the Skype meeting.

Communications

Please be aware of false information online

Please look out for false information particularly online and encourage people to get information from trusted sources only. Nationally Government are tackling this and The Culture Secretary will be contacting social media companies this week to thank them, assess the progress made, and discuss what other potential measures can be put in place to ensure accurate, honest information consistently reaches users of their platforms.

The successful ‘Don’t Feed the Beast’ public information campaign will also relaunch next week, to empower people to question what they read online.

The announcement

At the County Council our website is updated several times a day and our social media and media responses are being widely shared and reproduced. There are increasing numbers of disruptions to services linked to the COVID-19 outbreak – the latest information can be found here

All our latest press releases can be found here.

Click here for the latest NHS guidance

Click here for GOV.UK highlights

A message from Richard Flinton, Chief Executive

We are all working in an unprecedented period of interruption to the way we live our lives and run our businesses, but at the same time we must remain very much focussed on continuing to deliver the best public services possible and to direct our efforts towards those who need them most.

I fully recognise there are many questions and concerns and that we are all in a fast changing environment which is likely to continue for some time.

I will, therefore, aim to share this regular briefing note with you to ensure you are kept up to date with the latest information, help and guidance that North Yorkshire County Council has to share.

We have already undertaken detailed reviews of our business continuity plans to reflect the likely impact of COVID-19 on our workforce and working practices. These are robust and prioritise particularly the delivery of health and social care services, support for parents, families and the workforce at large, including, of course, our own dedicated staff. We are also working extremely hard to support North Yorkshire’s people and businesses as well as the hugely important community and voluntary sector networks.

We are absolutely committed to continuing to work with our health, local authority and emergency service partners to plan and respond to a broad range of challenges, as you would hope and rightly expect. This means we can collectively understand the county’s needs and target our resources where they are needed most.

We also have a big focus on communications and will update this new bulletin twice a week - or more if that is appropriate. I hope you will find it useful.

Schools and childcare

School closures

We will work with all our schools, families and communities in supporting the decision by our Government to close schools from tomorrow.

We have set up a Covid-19 task group to support our school staff in their work with families to ensure that children’s learning can continue in the home environment. 

We are now working round the clock to address plans with schools and at a multi-agency level to help to protect our children and young people, particularly those who are most vulnerable, and to help to keep them safe in the period to come. It is an enormous task which will involve all our communities and resourcefulness and the cooperation of all

We fully support the mission for the children of key workers and those who are vulnerable to continue to attend schools and we are now working to make that happen. This includes working with schools, providers and suppliers to ensure that transport arrangements are in place and children are safeguarded and fed across North Yorkshire, particularly in areas where rural isolation is a factor.

Plans also include supporting private, voluntary and independent childcare providers in the county, such as nurseries and child minders and potentially sharing resources where necessary.

We are also considering how we utilise the full workforce available which will include county council as well as school staff. This workforce may need to work through the Easter holidays and for potentially several months ahead. We also need to consider how we mobilise the skills and experience of school staff who are well but fall into the ‘vulnerable’ and working from home category but who can offer much in the overall effort to provide the best learning opportunities possible for our children and young people and also care for their wellbeing.

The majority of children and young people will now be continuing studies at home, remotely and many of our schools have already been developing home learning and online learning packs.

In North Yorkshire we have well established, tried and tested partnership working practices which help us to manage the impact of very significant challenges. During this unprecedented challenge for our county and our nation we will focus our joint resources where they are needed most in protecting the future wellbeing of our young people.

It’s important to have a single source of trusted information so we are using one web-page to provide information for all educational settings https://cyps.northyorks.gov.uk/covid-19.

Support for people in isolation

We know that people across the county will want to help their communities and we’re encouraging everyone to look out for anyone in their immediate area who might need help, whilst also keeping social distancing advice in mind. Although we need to be careful about physical contact, offering to call your neighbour who can’t get out so they have someone to chat to on the phone could make all the difference.

We are taking a leading role with other local authorities up and down the county to ensure we help shield people who may be more vulnerable, such as those with underlying medical conditions as well as people over 70, who are self-isolating, over the coming weeks and months.

In addition to this, our stronger communities team are working with district and borough councils and volunteers to help people understand how they can get the help they need.

Our advice to anyone self-isolating is to firstly ask yourself:

  • Do I have family, friends or a neighbour who I can call?
  • Are you a member of a local club or church group?

If so, they may have volunteers in your neighbourhood who are offering to help with things like shopping or looking after pets.

For anyone who may not have this immediate support; we are encouraging them to contact one of our trusted voluntary organisations.

We are working with our community partners across the whole county to ensure that local support will be available for anyone who needs it so that no-one is left alone.

If there is anyone who has no help or support and is struggling we will help you, but we ask that, in the first instance, you turn to people around you – family, friends and neighbours - so that we can find and help those most vulnerable and at risk.

Help for people who have nobody

From Monday 23 March, the county council customer service centre will be providing support for those people who have nobody and find themselves in desperate need of help. This help can be accessed by calling our hotline on 01609 780780, the team will signpost you to the right support and ensure you a provided with the care you need.

We know North Yorkshire is a place of great kindness and we will be highlighting some of the stories that will illustrate that throughout this period.

Community support information is now live on our website at
www.northyorks.gov.uk/coronavirus-covid-19-community-support

Watch out for fraudsters

Unfortunately, nationally, there have been reports of frauds relating to the supply of face masks, primarily online and fraudsters posing as legitimate banks trying to persuade people to disclose personal information. 

Our Trading Standards officers are encouraging family and friends to help to protect residents from potential scams.

Some claim to provide medical guidance, investment opportunities or a safe place to which to transfer money.

We urge everyone:

  • Not to deal with cold callers at any time, either by phone or at the door, but particularly those who may seek to exploit the current situation.
  • Not to respond to unsolicited emails.
  • To take extra care of elderly and disabled residents to protect them from such scams.
  • To report all frauds to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040, or through their website www.actionfraud.police.uk

Local economy

NYCC

We are working hard with our district council colleagues and the LEP to help our businesses to access the range of financial support mechanisms announced by Government this week and there will be more details to follow on that. However, as part of our commitment as a County Council to our local suppliers, we are also taking dynamic action to help our small and medium-sized businesses. In recognition of the value we place on our local suppliers and the difficult times they are facing, we will be fast-tracking payments for invoices – which means they will receive payment from us more quickly. We hope that will be of some assistance during this difficult time.

The latest measures announced by the Chancellor The Right Hon. Rishi Sunak MP this week are welcomed in North Yorkshire where nearly 90 per cent of our companies are micro (0-9 employees) and 10 per cent are SME (10-250). The district councils are leading on the administration of a number of aspects of this work, further details are on the links below.

York and North Yorkshire LEP

Everyone in our region is facing unprecedented challenges, including our businesses. As a LEP, we will help those organisations navigate their way through this difficult period, ensuring that they remain healthy now and into the future.

Some businesses in the region are thriving due to the pandemic; others are experiencing difficulties with cash flow and staff. We see many adapting their businesses to this new reality with ingenuity and resilience.

The Chancellor has set out a package of temporary, timely and targeted measures to support public services, people and businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19. Highlights of the packages can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses.

Whilst it will take a little time for this support to be provided, it will be delivered and as the Chancellor said, together we will do whatever it takes to assist those in need.

Keep up to date with latest news on our website www.businessinspiredgrowth.com or encourage businesses to sign up to our e-newsletters so they receive any updates directly.

You can also find out more at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses

Social care and the NHS

The County Council is working closely with the NHS and over 500 providers of public health and adult social care services to ensure that essential services keep running and that they prioritise people with the greatest needs.

We are working hard with the NHS to help some of those most vulnerable people who will need hospital care to free up North Yorkshire’s share, what is estimated nationally to be 30 000 hospital beds.

We are also working with home care, day services and direct payments providers and residential and nursing homes, as well as specialist public health services (including children’s services, sexual health and substance misuse) to keep people safe and well. We have asked all of them to use their contingency plans to ensure they are able to prioritise their workloads. A weekly bulletin is being provided to these services and dedicated support is being offered from the Council’s Quality and Monitoring Team and Public Health teams.

We are working with Public Health England and local service providers to supply and distribute protective clothing and equipment for frontline workers who are working with people with Covid-19 symptoms.

The Council’s local social care teams are meeting daily to review people’s cases, respond to urgent situations and ensure essential work is prioritised.

If people have queries or concerns, they should contact the county council’s customer service centre on 01609 780 780 Monday – Friday 8:00am to 5:30pm, or go on line to find out about on-line services  https://www.northyorks.gov.uk

Communications

We have been supporting Public Health England’s and NHS public information campaigns for many weeks and we have now developed a more detailed area of the staff intranet and public website where all the latest information, advice and guidance can be found. We have undertaken regular and comprehensive communications with managers within the council and the whole workforce. Understandably there has been a high level of engagement with social and health care staff and providers as well as education and child care settings. Details of all service changes including schools and libraries can be found on the blue NYCC button above this text labelled Communications.

GOV.UK

This is a fast changing environment and The Prime Minister is holding daily press conferences. The highlights of these are published by government on the Gov.uk link above this text.

The latest health advice

The latest NHS guidance is available here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19

In summary:

What to do if you develop COVID-19 symptoms

The two most common symptoms of COVID-19 are a fever (i.e. temperature about 37.8 OC) and/or a new continuous cough.

The situation is constantly evolving so it’s important to check for the latest guidance where possible on the gov.uk website. The current guidance (correct as of 16th March) advises that:

  • If you live alone and you develop symptoms of coronavirus illness (COVID-19), however mild, stay at home for 7 days from when your symptoms started.
  • If you live with others and you or one of them have symptoms of coronavirus, then all household members must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill. All household members who remain well may end household-isolation after 14 days.
  • For anyone in the household who starts displaying symptoms, they need to stay at home for 7 days from when the symptoms appeared, regardless of what day they are on in the original 14 day isolation period.
  • After 7 days, if the first person to become ill feels better and no longer has a high temperature, they can return to their normal routine. If any other family members become unwell during the 14-day household-isolation period, they should follow the same advice - that is, after 7 days of their symptoms starting, if they feel better and no longer have a high temperature, they can also return to their normal routine.

More information is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-households-with-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection

Keeping physically and mentally well

Staying at home for a prolonged period can be difficult, frustrating and lonely for some people. It’s important to remember to take care of your mind as well as your body and to get support if you need it. Stay in touch with family and friends over the phone or on social media. There are also sources of support and information that can help, including:

Mind – https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/coronavirus-and-your-wellbeing/)

WHO factsheet – https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/mental-health-considerations.pdf?sfvrsn=6d3578af_8

Every Mind Matters – https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/

There is more information on how to stay fit and well on the NHS web pages https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/self-isolation-advice/

The BBC also has a range of useful stories, advice sheets and videos https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/world-51939591