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Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

We will keep this page as updated as possible on the latest guidance and advice on COVID-19 as it becomes available so that our residents have all the information they need during this time.

See also:


Updated - 25 March - 5pm

We must act now to protect the NHS and save lives:

Following the Prime Minister’s address to the nation on 23 March, people will be allowed to leave their homes for:

  • Shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible
  • One form of exercise a day - for example a run, walk, or cycle, alone or with members of their household 
  • Any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person 
  • Travelling to and from work, but only where it is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home
  • In addition all shops selling non-essential goods ordered to close and gathering of more than 2 people in public (excluding people you live with) are banned
   

This will be enforced by the police where necessary.

Our council services

We have closed our Shute End civic offices to the public as part of our efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19, but will continue to run frontline services.

In line with government guidelines, all our libraries, swimming pools and leisure centres are now closed until further notice. All Wokingham Borough Council play areas are also now closed.

We are continuing to update our council service page with the latest information.  

Help your neighbours

If you can, please help others in your community - check on any vulnerable family, friends and neighbours and to see if they need anything from the shops, a prescription collected or help with other small jobs. 

Visit the community support during the Coronavirus (Covid-19) web page for more information on how to help.

You must stay at home if you have coronavirus symptoms - check visit the NHS website for the latest advice. The two symptoms to look out for are a high temperature and/or a new continuous cough. The advice is currently:

  • If you have symptoms, stay at home for 7 days
  • If you live with other people, they should stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person got symptoms

This will help to protect others in your community while you are infectious. Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.

You do not need to contact NHS on 111 to tell them you’re staying at home. The Government will not be testing people who are self-isolating with mild symptoms.

When we reduce our day-to-day contact with other people, we will reduce the spread of the infection. That is why the government is now (23 March 2020) introducing three new measures.

  • Requiring people to stay at home, except for very limited purposes
  • Closing non-essential shops and community spaces
  • Stopping all gatherings of more than two people in public

Every citizen must comply with these new measures. The relevant authorities, including the police, will be given the powers to enforce them – including through fines and dispersing gatherings.

These measures are effective immediately. The Government will look again at these measures in three weeks (from 23 March), and relax them if the evidence shows this is possible.

Staying at home and away from others

You should only leave the house for one of four reasons.

  • Shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible.
  • One form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle - alone or with members of your household.
  • Any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person.
  • Travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home.

These four reasons are exceptions - even when doing these activities, you should be minimising time spent outside of the home and ensuring you are 2 metres apart from anyone outside of your household.

These measures must be followed by everyone. Separate advice is available for individuals or households who are isolating, and for the most vulnerable who need to be shielded.

If you work in a critical sector outlined in this guidance, or your child has been identified as vulnerable, you can continue to take your children to school. Where parents do not live in the same household, children under 18 can be moved between their parents’ homes.

Closing non-essential shops and public places

Last week, the Government ordered certain businesses - including pubs, cinemas and theatres - to close.

The Government is now extending this requirement to a further set of businesses and other venues, including:

  • all non-essential retail stores - this will include clothing and electronics stores; hair, beauty and nail salons; and outdoor and indoor markets, excluding food markets.
  • libraries, community centres, and youth centres.
  • indoor and outdoor leisure facilities such as bowling alleys, arcades and soft play facilities.
  • communal places within parks, such as playgrounds, sports courts and outdoor gyms.
  • places of worship, except for funerals attended by immediate families.
  • hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, campsites, caravan parks, and boarding houses for
  • commercial/leisure use (excluding permanent residents and key workers).

More detailed information can be found on the UK Government website, including a full list of those businesses and other venues that must close. Businesses and other venues not on this list may remain open.

Stopping public gatherings

To make sure people are staying at home and apart from each other, the Government is also stopping all public gatherings of more than two people.

There are only two exceptions to this rule:

  • where the gathering is of a group of people who live together - this means that a parent can, for example, take their children to the shops if there is no option to leave them at home.
  • where the gathering is essential for work purposes - but workers should be trying to minimise all meetings and other gatherings in the workplace.

In addition, the Government is stopping social events, including weddings, baptisms and other religious ceremonies. This will exclude funerals, which can be attended by immediate family.

Delivering these measures

These measures will reduce our day to day contact with other people. They are a vital part of our efforts to reduce the rate of transmission of coronavirus.

Every citizen is instructed to comply with these new measures.

The Government will therefore be ensuring the police and other relevant authorities have the powers to enforce them, including through fines and dispersing gatherings where people do not comply.

They will initially last for the three weeks from 23 March, at which point the Government will look at them again and relax them if the evidence shows this is possible.

This guidance is intended for:

  • people with symptoms that may be caused by coronavirus, and do not require hospital treatment, who must remain at home until they are well
  • those living in households with someone who shows symptoms that may be caused by coronavirus    


The most common symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are recent onset of:  

  • new continuous cough and/or
  • high temperature

For most people, coronavirus (COVID-19) will be a mild illness.

Key messages from UK Government

       
  • if you live alone and you have 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 are the first in the household to have symptoms of coronavirus, then you must stay at home for 7 days, but all other household members who remain well 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
  • for anyone else 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.
  • it is likely that people living within a household will infect each other or be infected already. Staying at home for 14 days will greatly reduce the overall amount of infection the household could pass on to others in the community
  • if you can, move any vulnerable individuals (such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions) out of your home, to stay with friends or family for the duration of the home isolation period
  • if you cannot move vulnerable people out of your home, stay away from them as much as possible
  • if you have coronavirus symptoms do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. You do not need to contact NHS 111 to tell them you’re staying at home
  • testing for coronavirus is not needed if you’re staying at home
  • plan ahead and ask others for help to ensure that you can successfully stay at home and consider what can be done for vulnerable people in the household
  • ask your employer, friends and family to help you to get the things you need to stay at home
  • wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds, each time using soap and water, or use hand sanitiser
  • if you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home, or your condition gets worse, or your symptoms do not get better after 7 days, then use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service. If you do not have internet access, call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999.

     

Ending isolation

Self-isolation

If you have been symptomatic, then you may end your self-isolation after 7 days. The 7-day period starts from the day when you first became ill

Household isolation

If living with others, then all household members who remain well may end household-isolation after 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day illness began in the first person to become ill. Fourteen days is the incubation period for coronavirus; people who remain well after 14 days are unlikely to be infectious.

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.

Should a household member develop coronavirus symptoms late in the 14-day household-isolation period (for example, on day 13 or day 14) the isolation period does not need to be extended, but the person with the new symptoms has to stay at home for 7 days.

The 14-day household-isolation period will have greatly reduced the overall amount of infection the rest of the household could pass on, and it is not necessary to restart 14 days of isolation for the whole household. This will have provided a high level of community protection.

Further isolation of members of this household will provide very little additional community protection.

At the end of the 14-day period, any family member who has not become unwell can leave household isolation.

If any ill person in the household has not had any signs of improvement and have not already sought medical advice, they should contact NHS 111 online. If your home has no internet access, you should call NHS 111.

The cough may persist for several weeks in some people, despite the coronavirus infection having cleared. A persistent cough alone does not mean someone must continue to self-isolate for more than 7 days.

Further information

For more information on self-isolation, visit the UK Government website. This also includes the guidance in the following languages:

  • Arabic
  • Bengali
  • Traditional Chinese – Cantonese
  • Simplified Chinese – Mandarin
  • French
  • Gujarati
  • Polish
  • Portuguese
  • Punjadi
  • Urdu
  • Welsh

Further measures should be put in place for those who are vulnerable, see the UK Government website for advice on how to protect extremely vulnerable people (shielding).

There are general principles you can follow to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:

  • Washing your hands more often - with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitiser when you get home or into work, when you blow your nose, sneeze or cough, eat or handle food
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with people who have symptoms
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in a bin and wash your hands
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces in the home

Watch the video on hand washing from  the NHS:

All schools will be closed from Monday (23 March) until further notice, except for children of key workers and the most vulnerable.

Further information about schools and other educational setting can be found of the UK Government website including details about: 

  • GCSE and A Level exam cancellations
  • Free school meals

Public Health England have published guidance for educational settings, visit the website for more information.

For education queries you can also phone the Department for Education on 0800 046 8687 or email them at coronavirus@education.gov.uk (opening hours: 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday).

For more information visit our schools web page.

Message from John Halsall, leader of Wokingham Borough Council on COVID-19

'We are living in the shadow of Covid-19, an unprecedented international, national and local emergency.

Already many people are suffering from Coronavirus and people have died across the country. Tragically, this will increase significantly over the coming weeks. We must face that reality without self-deception: this is the greatest challenge the country has faced since the Second World War.

However, it is a challenge for which we have prepared. We have well established emergency plans in place with our Public Health colleagues. Our technology is robust; our staff are resilient and determined to provide the services people rely on. We are meeting daily to oversee response and are working closely with our partners and providers.

Our response will be defined by kindness, professionalism and robustness. It will be focussed on those who most need our support and on providing the essential services that nobody else can offer. We are fortunate in Wokingham Borough that we have communities that will, with our support, take care of each other and it has been inspiring (although I would say not surprising) to see how people have rallied to support neighbours and to join community and voluntary sector groups to help.

The situation is moving quickly but the 2 constants we have kept are to follow expert advice and to fulfill the duty of care we have to all in our communities.

Our statutory duties are wide-ranging, from the children we look after as a corporate parent, to older people in care homes, and from maintaining safe highways to collecting your waste and recycling. My commitment is that, while the way we fulfill these duties will change in the months ahead, and we may have to reduce some in order to prioritise others, we will always be here for those most in need and will continue to serve you with all our endeavours.

So, today, I am setting out our 8-point pledge to residents.'

Watch the video below:

You can also read our 8-point pledge to residents:

  1. We will deliver our statutory health responsibilities for all: With our partners, we will do all we can within our joint resources to protect the health and wellbeing of everybody living and working in the borough.
  2. We will target our efforts on those who are at greater risk from coronavirus: By careful planning and through redeploying resources when necessary, we will support high risk groups (such as the elderly, those with pre-existing long term conditions and pregnant women). This will include working with our local hospitals to support transfers of care, by supporting providers of social care, and ensuring other vulnerable groups are assisted through our social care services.
  3. We will be there for other key vulnerable groups to reduce inequalities: Self-isolation and the inevitable disruption to lives that Coronavirus is bringing will lead to an increase in safeguarding and vulnerability issues. We are aware of those at risk (including the homeless, those who use food banks, those at risk of domestic abuse and those with existing multiple and complex needs) and are working closely with providers and voluntary organisations to be vigilant and mitigate the threats.
  4. We will co-ordinate the community’s response: Our people are strong, compassionate and keen to help and our hundreds of voluntary groups are committed to supporting all communities. What they need is coordination, which is what we can provide. We are bringing together our community organisation partners to offer a joined up way for people to volunteer and a single point of contact for those who need help. Our teams will continue to work in communities, in partnership with the police, other providers and the voluntary sector to maintain community safety.
  5. We will support our businesses: This pandemic will hit our economy just as it will all those around the globe. We await details of the Government’s financial support package but welcome its unprecedented scope and will play our role in administrating and communicating to businesses. Furthermore we will consider what measures can be put in place for those who are clearly struggling. We will work with business groups, our business tenants and the Local Enterprise Partnership on the best way to shield them from the shock waves Coronavirus is spreading.
  6. We will care for our staff and continue to serve the community: We are implementing carefully made plans to deliver home working across all services thanks to our robust IT systems. Services will be delivered differently and some will be reduced in order to prioritise. But the council is here for you.
  7. Capture financial and organisational impact: We will collate financial impact of additional burdens and loss of income for services to reduce organisational risk, and the impact of decisions taken by other organisations such as transport providers. 
  8. We will keep you informed: We have a comprehensive and regularly updated Coronavirus web page and we'll use social media and other channels to issue very regular updates on this plan and our delivery of it.

 

In practice, all this will mean difficult decisions. We have already taken some, such as the decision to postpone those public council meetings that cannot go ahead in alternative formats until suitable arrangements can be made. We are seeking technological solutions as swiftly as possible because democracy must continue. 

I know there will be people struggling at this time – either with the strain of self-isolation or illness, or through the financial problems it is creating. Please do not suffer in silence: we have worked with the voluntary sector to create a single point of contact for all those in need of community support. 

This is through the Citizens Advice Bureau and can be reached on 0300 330 1189 (if prompted enter 0118 978 7258) or by emailing: admin@citizensadvicewokingham.org.uk 

I would like to end with a note of optimism, a vital commodity even in these difficult times. We have had an unprecedented response from people wanting to volunteer. The most basic thing we can do is to look after each other – if there are people self-isolating or vulnerable groups living near you, put a note through their door to offer help. Or, if you are fit and well and have any time to spare, please contact one of our community and voluntary sector groups that we are working with to provide support. 

If you want to help but don’t know where to go, visit the Wokingham Volunteer Centre website.

Employers and businesses can visit the Government's dedicated page where they are providing advice about COVID-19.

For advice on business rates information, business rate relief and the Government's 2020 budget announcements being implemented in Wokingham Borough, visit our Coronavirus Announcements and Budget 2020 webpage.

You can also visit our webpage on how businesses can access support responding to coronavirus (COVID-19)

Home delivery directory for local businesses

We are compiling a list of Wokingham Borough businesses that are offering home deliveries.  We will be sharing this directory across social media, on our website and with partner organisations who might need your services. 

Please email CEM@wokingham.gov.uk with your details, if you provide essential goods.

Please note, your company should meet national guidance to stay open and operating and you will also need to be set up to take payment over the phone or online. 

The most recent scientific advice on how to further limit the spread of COVID-19 is clear. From Monday 23 March, if children can stay safely at home, they should, to limit the chance of the virus spreading.

The government has asked parents to keep their children at home, wherever possible, and asked schools to remain open only for those children who absolutely need to attend.

Schools are being asked to continue to provide care for a limited number of children - children who are vulnerable and children whose parents are critical to the Covid-19 response and cannot be safely cared for at home.

Vulnerable children

This includes children: 

  • Who are supported by social care
  • Those with safeguarding and welfare needs, including child in need plans, on child protection plans, ‘looked after’ children, young carers, disabled children and those with education, health and care (EHC) plans.

We know that schools will also want to support other children facing social difficulties and we will support head teachers to do so.

Key workers

Parents whose work is critical to the COVID-19 response include those who work in health and social care and in other key sectors outlined below. Many parents working in these sectors may be able to ensure their child is kept at home. And every child who can be safely cared for at home should be.

Please, therefore, follow these key principles:

  1. If it is at all possible for children to be at home, then they should be.
  2. If a child needs specialist support, is vulnerable or has a parent who is a critical worker, then educational provision will be available for them.
  3. Parents should not rely for childcare upon those who are advised to be in the stringent social distancing category such as grandparents, friends, or family members with underlying conditions.
  4. Parents should also do everything they can to ensure children are not mixing socially in a way which can continue to spread the virus. They should observe the same social distancing principles as adults.
  5. Residential special schools, boarding schools and special settings continue to care for children wherever possible.

If your work is critical to the COVID-19 response, or you work in one of the critical sectors listed below, and you cannot keep your child safe at home then your children will be prioritised for education provision.

Health and social care

This includes but is not limited to: 

  • Doctors
  • Nurses
  • Midwives
  • Paramedics
  • Social workers
  • Care workers

Other front line health and social care staff including: 

  • Volunteers; the support and specialist staff required to maintain the UK’s health and social care sector; 
  • Those working as part of the health and social care supply chain, including producers and distributors of medicines and medical and personal protective equipment.

Education and childcare

This includes: 

  • Nursery and teaching staff
  • Social workers
  • Specialist education professionals who must remain active during the COVID-19 response to deliver this approach

Key public services

This includes those essential to: 

  • The running of the justice system
  • Religious staff
  • Charities and workers delivering key front line services
  • Those responsible for the management of the deceased
  • Journalists and broadcasters who are providing public service broadcasting

 

Local and national government

This only includes: 

  • Those administrative occupations essential to the effective delivery of the COVID-19 response; or 
  • Delivering essential public services such as the payment of benefits, including in government agencies and arms length bodies

Food and other necessary goods

This includes: 

  • Those involved in food production
  • Processing
  • Distribution
  • Sale
  • Delivery
  • Those essential to the provision of other key goods (for example hygienic and veterinary medicines)

Public safety and national security

This includes: 

  • Police and support staff
  • Ministry of Defence civilians
  • Contractor and armed forces personnel (those critical to the delivery of key defence and national security outputs and essential to the response to the COVID-19 pandemic)
  • Fire and rescue service employees (including support staff)
  • National Crime Agency staff
  • Those maintaining border security
  • Prison and probation staff
  • Other national security roles, including those overseas

Transport

This includes those who will keep the air, water, road and rail passenger and freight transport modes operating during the COVID-19 response, including those working on transport systems through which supply chains pass.

Utilities, communication and financial services

This includes: 

  • Staff needed for essential financial services provision (including but not limited to workers in banks, building societies and financial market infrastructure), the oil, gas, electricity and water sectors (including sewerage), information technology and data infrastructure sector and primary industry supplies to continue during the COVID-19 response, as well as key staff working in the civil nuclear, chemicals, telecommunications (including but not limited to network operations, field engineering, call centre staff, IT and data infrastructure, 999 and 111 critical services), postal services and delivery, payments providers and waste disposal sectors.

If workers think they fall within the critical categories above they should confirm with their employer that, based on their business continuity arrangements, their specific role is necessary for the continuation of this essential public service.

In order to support social distancing to reduce the spread of the Covid-19 virus, we have decided to close all of our play areas from 23 March.

Over the coming days (following the announcement on 23 March) each of the Borough Council’s 99 play areas will have signage installed informing residents that the play area is closed and reminding people to follow social distancing guidelines to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus and keep them and their families safe. Those play areas that are able to will also be locked.

Many of the town and parish councils within the Borough also operate play areas. We are asking them to close these as well and offering to install signage for them.

These are people, including children, who are at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) because of an underlying health condition, and for their family, friends and carers.

Who is extremely vulnerable?

People falling into this extremely vulnerable group include:

  • Solid organ transplant recipients
  • People with specific cancers:
    • People with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy or radical radiotherapy for lung cancer
    • People with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment
    • People having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer
    • People having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors
    • People who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs
  • People with severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe COPD
  • People with rare diseases and inborn errors of metabolism that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as SCID, homozygous sickle cell)
  • People on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection
  • Women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired

The NHS in England is directly contacting people with these conditions to provide further advice.

If you think you fall into one of the categories of extremely vulnerable people listed above and you have not received a letter by Sunday 29 March 2020 or been contacted by your GP, you should discuss your concerns with your GP or hospital clinician.

If you have an underlying health condition listed above, you are at very high risk of severe illness as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19) requiring admission to hospital.

What is shielding?

Shielding is a practice used to protect extremely vulnerable people from coming into contact with coronavirus.

You are strongly advised to stay at home at all times and avoid any face-to-face contact for a period of at least 12 weeks from the day you receive your letter. Please note that this period of time could change following further Government advice.

How do these measures differ from the social distancing guidance for vulnerable people issued?

You are strongly advised to stay at home at all times and avoid any face-to-face contact for a period of at least 12 weeks from the day you receive your letter.

People who are not clinically extremely vulnerable who have contracted coronavirus (COVID-19) and recovered will be able to go about their normal business. If you are in this group we strongly advise that you should remain at home at all times.

Shielding is a measure to protect extremely vulnerable people by minimising interaction between those who are extremely vulnerable and others. This means that those who are extremely vulnerable should not leave their homes, and within their homes should minimise all non-essential contact with other members of their household. This is to protect those who are at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) from coming into contact with the virus.

If you think you have a condition which makes you extremely vulnerable or have received a letter from NHS England you are strongly advised to shield yourself, to reduce the chance of getting coronavirus (COVID-19) and follow the face-to-face distancing measures below.

What are the social shielding measures?

  • Strictly avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). These symptoms include high temperature and/or new and continuous cough
  • Do not leave your house
  • Do not attend any gatherings. This includes gatherings of friends and families in private spaces for example family homes, weddings and religious services
  • Do not go out for shopping, leisure or travel and, when arranging food or medication deliveries, these should be left at the door to minimise contact
  • Keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media


For more information visit the UK Government’s website for further information on shielding.

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