Coronavirus: The essential daily briefing for Cambridgeshire - March 19
Daily updates on the coronavirus are now being provided by Cambridgeshire County Council, taking account of the latest government announcement.
Here, we delve into the first one, for Thursday March 19, and add details from other councils and the government.
Closures across the education sector
The government announced yesterday that all schools, early years settings and childcare providers will close on Friday afternoon until further notice, apart from those supporting key workers’ children and vulnerable children.
The county council said it is awaiting further information from the government on the provision for these groups and will work with all affected schools and settings to share this information and its implications once more is known.
The government has today said it will provide a list of key workers later, but it is known to include NHS staff, police and supermarket delivery drivers. Vulnerable children include those who have a social worker and those with education, health and care plans – a legal document that describes a child’s special educational needs and the support they require.
All the county’s libraries currently remain open but in order to protect the health and wellbeing of staff, volunteers, visitors and audiences, events have been cancelled. More information can be found here
Council tax advice
Any residents who feel the pandemic will effect their finances so significantly that they may struggle to pay their council tax is urged to contact the county council at the earliest opportunity to discuss options. The council said: “Everything we can offer will depend on individual circumstances.”
They are also advised to contact the Department for Work and Pensions to discuss whether they may be entitled to claim Universal Credit, if they are on a low or no income due to self-isolation using the online service.
In Peterborough, resident can apply for some specific help towards their council tax through council tax support online.
The council is contacting bus operators asking them to allow all concessionary bus passes to be used before 9.30am from today (Thursday March 19) in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.
The council said: “We hope by relaxing the time limits during this challenging period it will help people to access supermarkets and the reserved time slots being offered should they wish and be able to do so.”
The council is awaiting further guidance from the chief coroner but the coroner service continues as normal for the moment, although the council advises that “decisions may be taken at short notice”.
The county council is looking to establish a volunteer hub to help residents.
It said: “We’re still working through the plans for this, such as identifying the numbers and individuals needed to deliver our critical services and then we will be asking other staff to use their skills and experience to support this hub as well as working with and engaging communities. More information about this will follow shortly.”
Black bin collections - including personal waste
Double bag black bin waste if suffering symptoms.
The Greater Cambridge Shared Waste Service said: “If you're experiencing the main symptoms - a new, continuous cough and/or a high temperature - please be very careful when disposing of your personal waste (including used tissues and disposable cleaning cloths/wipes) at home. The advice for disposal of this waste is as follows:
- It should be put in a plastic rubbish bag and tied when full
- The plastic bag should then be placed in a second bin bag and tied
- It should be kept separate from other waste in suitable secure place on your property for 72 hours before being placed in the black bin as normal.”
The principle behind this method is that after 72 hours outside the body, the virus is no longer viable. This approach will help keep bin collection crews as safe as possible.
Other household rubbish and recycling should be treated as normal.
The county council added: “Our staff are doing all they can to help prevent the spread of coronavirus when handling your bins. Please can we ask you to wipe the bin handles when putting out your bins and remember to regularly wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water.”
For more advice while at home, see the government’s advice online.
Green bin collections suspended in Cambridge and South Cambridgehire
Green bin collections across Cambridge city and South Cambridgeshire will not take place between Monday March 23 and Monday May 4.
The Greater Cambridge Shared Waste Service, a partnership between Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire District Councils, said it made the decision to support staff and the recycling and waste service as a whole during the coronavirus outbreak.
The suspension of green bin collections will allow crews to concentrate on emptying blue and black bins during the coming weeks. It will also assist with any future staff sickness or self-isolation issues.
As always, residents are being encouraged to waste as little food as possible, so they minimise the amount they need to throw away. For this period only, the advice to residents who do have food waste will be to put it into the black bin.
Residents who enjoy spending time in the garden and growing their own food are also being asked to consider home composting as much of their garden waste as possible.
Residents who are subscribed to the additional green bin collection scheme, and therefore pay for more than one green bin to be collected, will see a reduced fee for their permit upon renewal in the October.
The bulky waste collection service, which collects large items from residents’ homes, will also be suspended during this period.
Trevor Nicoll, head of the Greater Cambridge Shared Waste Service, said: “Our priority is to try and maintain a regular waste collection service throughout the difficult months ahead and to do what we can to support the health and wellbeing of all our staff and residents. We’re making this change now to make sure we can focus on collecting blue and black bins as normal for as long as we possibly can.
“Our bin collection crews are trying their very best and deserve all the help we can give them. Suspending green bin collections will take some of this burden off them – they each walk the equivalent of a half marathon every shift. Residents can help by trying their very best to absolutely minimise the amount of food that they are throwing out and trying not to generate garden waste for now.
“Finally, it would also be a big help to our hard-working crews if residents whose bins don’t have much waste inside can wait until it is full before putting it out – if they think they can manage until their next collection.”
Household recycling centres
Anyone self-isolating because they are experiencing any symptoms, we politely ask them do not come to any household recycling centre.
Peterborough housing needs
The city’s housing needs service will no longer be advising people to use the phones in the customer contact centre or having face to face meetings. If residents want general information on their housing application or for any other queries, they should contact the team by email on firstname.lastname@example.org. Residents who are homeless or threatened with homelessness during office hours (Monday-Friday 9am-4pm, apart from Wednesday, when the office is open from 11am-5pm), should contact Peterborough’s housing needs teams by leaving a voicemail message on 01733 864064. A member of the team will then phone back, so you don’t need to spend phone credit. Alternatively, email email@example.com Residents that are homeless or threatened with homelessness out of hours (evenings/weekends) should contact the out of hours number on 01733 864157.
Ceremonies and registrations
Registrars will continue to attend ceremonies that are planned and going ahead. If you need to move or cancel a ceremony then the council’s amendment and cancellation fees will not apply.
Registering a death or a birth
In order to limit the amount of people coming into the Registration Office, if you have an appointment then only the person registering should attend and the baby does not need to come along. Both parents need to attend if they are not legally married or civil partners.
The county council is asking all staff who can to work remotely wherever possible in order to keep frontline, critical services operational. The council said: “Those staff members who are out and about are maintaining hygiene standards and being provided with the relevant equipment to carry out their job safely.”
All council meetings have been postponed for this week across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. The council said: “We expect to receive further information from the government about running council meetings shortly. We would advise people to check our website for details.”
Prime Minister’s statement (from March 16)
“If you or anyone in your household has one of two key symptoms, a high temperature or a new and continuous cough, then you should stay at home for 14 days.
“That means that if possible you should not go out even to buy food or essentials, other than for exercise, and in that case at a safe distance from others.
“If necessary, you should ask for help from others for your daily necessities. And if that is not possible, then you should do what you can to limit your social contact when you leave the house to get supplies.
“Even if you don’t have symptoms and if no one in your household has symptoms, you should stop non-essential contact with others and stop all unnecessary travel.
“We need people to start working from home where they possibly can. You should avoid pubs, clubs, theatres and other social venues.
“We should all only use the NHS when we really need to. Please go online rather than ringing NHS 111.
“This advice is particularly important for people over 70, for pregnant women and for those with some health conditions.
“You can read the latest guidance on social distancing for everyone in the UK and protecting older people and vulnerable adults, published on Monday 16 March, at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-social-distancing-and-for-vulnerable-people.”