Category Archives: Coronavirus news

Timeline for retail to re-open in June set out by Prime Minister

Thousands of high street shops, department stores and shopping centres across England are set to reopen next month once they are COVID-19 secure and can show customers will be kept safe, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed on Monday 25 May.

The Prime Minister has set out:

  • Outdoor markets and car showrooms will be able to reopen from 1 June, as soon as they are able to meet the COVID-19 secure guidelines to protect shoppers and workers. As with garden centres, the risk of transmission of the virus is lower in these outdoor and more open spaces. Car showrooms often have significant outdoor space and it is generally easier to apply social distancing.
  • All other non-essential retail to re-open from 15 June.  This includes shops selling clothes, shoes, toys, furniture, books, and electronics, plus tailors, auction houses, photography studios, and indoor markets.  This is dependent upon the Government’s five tests being met and shops must follow the COVID-19 secure guidelines, giving them three weeks to prepare.

Shops like supermarkets and pharmacies have been trading responsibly throughout the pandemic. Building on this and in line with the Government’s roadmap, reopening non-essential retail is the next step towards restoring people’s livelihoods, restarting the UK’s economy, and ensuring vital public services like the NHS continue to be funded.

Businesses will only be able to open from these dates once they have completed a risk assessment, in consultation with trade union representatives or workers, and are confident they are managing the risks. They must have taken the necessary steps to become COVID-19 secure in line with the current Health and Safety legislation.

The government is taking action to help businesses re-open and protect their staff and customers, including:

Publishing updated COVID-secure guidelines for people who work in or run shops, branches, and stores, after consultation with businesses, union leaders, Public Health England and the Health and Safety Executive.

Working with local authorities to continue to carry out spot checks and follow up on concerns by members of the public.

The updated guidance takes into account the best practice demonstrated by the many retailers which have been allowed to remain open and have applied social distancing measures in store. Measures that shops should consider include placing a poster in their windows to demonstrate awareness of the guidance and commitment to safety measures, storing returned items for 72 hours before putting them back out on the shop floor, placing protective coverings on large items touched by the public such as beds or sofas, and frequent cleaning of objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, including self-checkouts, trolleys, coffee machines and betting terminals, for example.

The vast majority of businesses will want to do everything possible to protect their staff and customers, but tough powers are in place to enforce action if they don’t, including fines and jail sentences of up to two years.

As per the roadmap, hairdressers, nail bars and beauty salons, and the hospitality sector, remain closed, because the risk of transmission in these environments is higher where long periods of person to person contact is required.

Andrew Goodacre, CEO, British Independent Retailers Association, said:

Bira is pleased with the guidance being given to retail outlets. It provides a broad framework for the basic measures and still allows the retailer to be flexible according to the size, layout and location of the shop.  This guidance will ensure that independent retailers provide safe environments for employees and customers.”

Antibody tests for health and social care staff and patients

New antibody testing programme to provide tens of thousands of antibody tests per day across the UK from this week.

  • All NHS and care staff in England will be offered a test, with patients and care residents eligible at their clinician’s request
  • Accurate and reliable lab-based antibody tests will improve understanding and data on COVID-19
  • Devolved administrations will decide who is eligible for tests in their jurisdictions

Antibody tests will be available to NHS and care staff, eligible patients and care residents in England to see if they have had coronavirus as part of a new national antibody testing programme announced by Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock.

Tests will be prioritised for NHS and care staff, and clinicians will be able to request them for patients in both hospital and social care settings if they deem it appropriate.

The new antibody testing programme, which will start next week, follows the substantial expansion of the UK’s swab testing capacity, which saw the creation of the country’s biggest network of diagnostic labs completed in record time. Swab testing confirms whether or not someone currently has the virus that causes COVID-19.

Under the new programme announced today, highly accurate laboratory based antibody tests will be used to tell whether someone has already had the virus, to provide accurate data about the antibodies they have developed in response. The information will help clinicians and scientists to better understand the prevalence of the virus in different regions across the country.

10 minute NHS and Active Calderdale workouts

Keep active and stay healthy with these 10 minute workouts from Active Calderdale. 

If you need some ideas and inspiration there are some 10 minute workouts from NHS and loads of ideas on the Active Calderdale Staying Active page for everyone, some 10 minutes and lots longer.

Marie the Active Workforce Lead, has done a couple of 10 minute videos:  Staircase workout     No equipment arms and legs easy workout.

Just 10 minutes a day can help brighten your mood, help with your circulation and overall health. It doesn’t take long, it won’t interrupt your day.

So there really is no excuse!!

Have fun, stay active, stay healthy!

Face coverings – when and where to wear them

Here we take a look at why you should were a face covering, when to wear one and how to use one to best effect.

Many countries are recommending or have enforced the wearing of some type of face covering to provide partial protection against the coronavirus in public places.  

The Government, on the advice of SAGE (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) has now recommended members of the public should consider wearing face coverings over their mouth and nose in enclosed or confined public spaces such as shops, trains and buses to help reduce the spread of coronavirus.

It is believed that wearing face masks in public places will help slow infection rates from asymptomatic people (those who show no symptoms) and so do not know that they have contracted the virus.

The Chief Medical Officer has said that face coverings are not a replacement for social distancing and regular hand washing which remain the most important actions. When wearing a face covering, it is essential to continue with other precautions, such as not touching the face and practising physical distancing.

The public have been urged not to buy medical grade masks so they can be saved for frontline health and care workers, and instead buy a simple cloth face covering or make their own at home.

Some leading scientists in the UK have now said that face coverings should be made compulsory in public places and while not providing a perfect solution, could help to reduce transmission by protecting each other from the particles produced from coughs and sneezes and the breath in close proximity to another person.

Read the Government advice on face coverings here.

So what type of face covering is suitable to wear

Due to shortages of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), only key workers should be wearing a protective face mask.  These are known as N95 or surgical masks.

Face coverings made from tightly woven fabric such as denim or cotton are recommended in many countries.  There are plenty of types available to buy online and a simple face covering can be made quite easily at home from cotton or denim fabric and elastic.

Disposable and cloth coverings can protect against droplets from coughing and sneezing, but neither can provide complete protection against the very small exhaled particles emitted in our breath.   However as with using a tissue when we sneeze, they do offer a level of protection.

More elaborate face coverings can also be bought or made which include a shaped piece around the nose and/or a pocket for a home-made filter.  Examples could include coffee filter papers, tissues or sanitary towels.

Alternatively you can use a T shirt, sock or scarf to fashion a very simple face covering – these offer less protection than a cotton face covering as they are not so tightly woven, but could be used if necessary.

See the official advice on how to make a simple face covering at home.

Tips for wearing a home-made face covering

  • A cloth face covering should cover your mouth and nose while allowing you to breathe comfortably. It can be as simple as a scarf or bandana that ties behind the head.
  • Ensure it fits completely over the nose and mouth and the fit is reasonably snug before you leave home – neither too tight or too loose.
  • Ensure the fastenings around the ears or head are comfortable if wearing for a prolonged period of time
  • When wearing a face covering, take care to tuck away any loose ends.
  • Before wearing, wash your hands and again after taking it off and after use.
  • Avoid touching the front of the face covering, or the part of the face covering that has been in contact with your mouth and nose. Once removed, make sure you clean any surfaces the face covering has touched.
  • Store used face coverings in a plastic bag until you have an opportunity to wash them.
  • Wash your face covering regularly. It can go in with other laundry, using your normal detergent.
  • Children under the age of two do not need to and should not wear a mask.

Read the latest NHS information and advice about the coronavirus.

If you suspect you have contracted COVID-19 (coronvirus), you can now obtain a test.

Coronavirus myths: what to look out for

As Coronavirus continues to dominate our lives, we explode some popular myths and stories circulating on social media and beyond.

Spraying chlorine or alcohol on the skin kills viruses in the body
Applying alcohol or chlorine to the body can cause harm, especially if it enters the eyes or mouth. Although people can use these chemicals to disinfect surfaces, they should not use them on the skin.

These products cannot kill viruses within the body.

Cats and dogs spread coronavirus
Currently, there is little evidence to suggest that the virus can infect cats and dogs. However, in Hong Kong, a Pomeranian whose owner had COVID-19 also contracted the virus. The dog did not display any symptoms.

Scientists are debating the importance of this case to the outbreak. For instance, Prof. Jonathan Ball, a professor of molecular virology at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom, says:

“We have to differentiate between real infection and just detecting the presence of the virus. I still think it’s questionable how relevant it is to the human outbreak, as most of the global outbreak has been driven by human-to-human transmission.”

He continues: “We need to find out more, but we don’t need to panic — I doubt it could spread to another dog or a human because of the low levels of the virus. The real driver of the outbreak is humans.”

Face masks always protect against coronavirus
Healthcare workers use professional face masks, which fit tightly around the face, to protect themselves from infection. Disposable and cloth masks can protect against droplets, but neither can protect against the very small particles that we exhale.

Many countries are recommending or enforcing the wearing of cloth face masks or coverings in public places where it is difficult to maintain a 2 metre distance from others. This will help slow the spread of the virus from asymptomatic people and those who do not know that they have contracted it.

When wearing a mask, it is essential to continue with other precautions, such as not touching the face and practising physical distancing.

Surgical masks and N95 respirators provide greater protection, but these are reserved for healthcare workers only.

You have to be with someone for 10 minutes to catch the virus
The longer someone is with a person who has it, the more likely they are to catch the virus themselves, but it is still possible to catch it in under 10 minutes.

The virus will die off when temperatures rise in the spring
Some viruses, such as cold and flu viruses, do spread more easily in the colder months, but that does not mean that they stop entirely when conditions become milder.

As it stands, scientists do not know how temperature changes will influence the behaviour of COVID-19.

The virus originated in a laboratory in China
Despite internet rumours, there is no evidence to suggest that this is the case. In fact, a recent study demonstrates that the virus is a natural product of evolution.

Some researchers believe that the virus may have jumped from pangolins to humans. Others think that it might have passed to us from bats, which was the case for the SARS virus.

Injecting or consuming bleach or disinfectant kills the virus
Consuming or injecting disinfectant or bleach will not remove viruses from the body.

Dr Wayne Carter, Associate Professor at the University of Nottingham’s school of medicine in , writes that disinfectants and bleach are useful to kill bacteria or viruses when they are deposited on surfaces, but these agents should not be ingested or injected. These agents can cause severe tissue burns and blood vessel damage.”

Dr. Penny Ward, Visiting Professor in pharmaceutical medicine at Kings College London, explains, “Drinking bleach kills. Injecting bleach kills faster.”

The advice for avoiding catching COVID-19 is to follow these rules:

  • Regular, effective handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Avoiding touching the face
  • Using hand sanitiser when unable to wash your hands
  • Social distancing
  • Wearing a cloth face covering in public places where social distancing is not possible.
  • Staying at home where possible and limiting contact with other people.

Domestic abuse: where and how to get help

While cases of domestic violence nationwide have increased during the coronavirus outbreak, the household isolation instruction does not apply if you need to leave your home to escape domestic abuse.

The order to stay at home can cause anxiety for those who are experiencing or feel at risk of domestic abuse.There is never an excuse for domestic abuse, no matter what the circumstances are. For anyone who feels they are at risk of abuse, it is important to remember that there is help and support available to you, including police response, online support, helplines, refuges and other services. You are not alone.

Friends, family, neighbours and community members can be a vital lifeline to those living with domestic abuse. If you are worried that someone you know may be a victim of domestic abuse, reassure them that the police and support services are still there to help and direct them to sources of support.

The government supports and funds several charities who can provide advice and guidance and we are in regular contact with the charity sector and the police to ensure that these support services remain open during this challenging time.

What is domestic abuse?

Domestic abuse is not always physical violence. It can also include, but is not limited to:

  • coercive control and ‘gaslighting’
  • economic abuse
  • online abuse
  • verbal abuse
  • emotional abuse
  • sexual abuse

What signs to look for

If you believe that you or someone else could be a victim of domestic abuse, there are signs that you can look out for including:

  • being withdrawn
  • having bruises
  • controlling finances
  • not being allowed to leave the house
  • monitoring technology use such as social media platforms

Where to get help

If you believe you are being abused, or worried you may commit domestic abuse, please use the services on this page.

If you suspect that your neighbours or those in your community are victims of domestic abuse, we encourage you to report it to the police.

Call 999

If you are in immediate danger, call 999 and ask for the police – the police will continue to respond to emergency calls.

If you are in danger and unable to talk on the phone, dial 999, listen to the questions from the operator and respond by coughing or tapping the handset if you can. Then follow the instructions depending on whether you are calling from a mobile or a landline.

If you call from a mobile

If prompted, press 55 to Make Yourself Heard – this will transfer your call to the police.

Pressing 55 only works on mobiles and does not allow police to track your location.

If you call 999 from a landline

If only background noise can be heard and BT operators cannot decide whether an emergency service is needed, then you will be connected to a police call handler.

If you replace the handset, the landline may remain connected for 45 seconds in case you pick up again.

When 999 calls are made from landlines, information about your location should be automatically available to the call handlers to help provide a response.

National Domestic Abuse Helpline

Refuge runs the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, which you can call for free, and in confidence, 24 hours a day on 0808 2000 247. Its website provides guidance and support for potential victims, as well as those who are worried about friends and loved ones. It also has a form through which you can book a safe time for a call from the team.

Refuge’s website includes a range of resources on identifying the signs of domestic abuse, and a safety guide for women and children who are living with a perpetrator. It also features a tech abuse chat-bot with step-by-step instructional videos on how to secure devices such as phones and laptops. Look for the pink button in the bottom-right corner.

Women’s Aid

Women’s Aid has a range of direct services for survivors, including a live chat service and an online Survivors’ Forum. They have developed additional advice specifically designed for the current coronavirus outbreak. You can also find your local domestic abuse service on their website. They also provide information on the support helplines available in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Men’s Advice Line

The Men’s Advice Line is a confidential helpline for male victims of domestic abuse and those supporting them.

Telephone: 0808 801 0327

Council Addresses Direct Payment Concerns

Here is a copy of a letter that Calderdale Council is sending out to recipients of direct payments from Adults or Children’s Services, addressing their concerns and clarifying the steps needed to get support and advice. Further Council advice and info is available on their website, or on our Council information hub page.

Letter from the council

We are sending you this letter as our records show you receive a direct payment from Adults or Children’s Services to enable you to purchase the appropriate support
for yourself or on behalf of someone.

We understand that people who receive a Direct Payment for their care and support are really worried about Coronavirus COVID-19. If you have been unable to get the support you need because your usual support arrangements have been disrupted due to COVID 19 and this is impacting on your health and wellbeing please contact Gateway to Care on 01422 393000 and we’ll do our best to help you to get the support you need.

There may be circumstances where you need to continue to pay for a service even if you are not receiving it. The direct payment fund made to you will not change, it is important that you continue to keep a record of all payments made to organisations or individuals whether or not a service was delivered. A note can be written on the supporting documents to reflect this.

When your direct payment bank account is next due for an audit, the Audit Team will take note of the periods when care was not delivered and will adjust the care charge contribution accordingly. We hope that you will find the information within this letter useful and we have enclosed some FAQ’s regarding Direct Payments. If you have any unanswered questions please contact the Direct Payment Team on 01422 393370 for advice and support.

Support for the extremely vulnerable
Calderdale Council has launched a helpline for anyone in need of urgent help.
Please call 01422 392890 if you are in urgent need of assistance.
You can also request help by visiting their website and filling in their online form.