Daily update on Bolton Council’s response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
You will have seen the news coverage over the weekend and we would ask all members of staff and Bolton residents to follow the social distancing guidelines.
The primary concern of the council is the welfare of our residents and staff, while also making sure that we protect our residents, and in particular our most vulnerable residents.
All public information is available on the council website.
1. Social distancing and self-isolation
You will have heard that the Prime Minister has reiterated the importance of ‘social distancing’ for all people, and strongly advised it for older or more vulnerable people.
A list of vulnerable groups, along with advice and guidance, is available online.
Extremely vulnerable people will soon be received a letter advising them to avoid all face-to-face contact for 12 weeks. More details on this are available here.
The aim is to protect the health of the population by measures to reduce the social interaction between people to help reduce transmission.
Social distancing is what you do if you don’t have symptoms, to reduce the risk of picking it up (eg working from home).
It is different from self-isolation which is what you do if you or a member of your household has symptoms. Guidance on self-isolation can be found here.
To reduce the risk of spread outside the home, please avoid all gatherings both outside and in work.
Keep a social distance of 2m (three steps) and remember the importance of handwashing.
On Friday (March 20th), the Government strengthened these measures by announcing the closure of the following venues:
- Food and drink venues for consumption on-site, such as restaurants and cafes
- Drinking establishments, including pubs, bars, nightclubs
- Entertainment venues, including cinemas, theatres, concert halls, and bingo halls
- Museums and galleries
- Spas and massage parlours
- Casinos and betting shops
- All indoor leisure and sports facilities, including gyms
Thorough and proper hand washing is vital to protect you and everyone around you from coronavirus, at work, home and in public places.
- wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
- additional to when you use the toilet and prepare food, always wash your hands when you get home or into work too
- use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
2. Council services
Due to the nature and scale of the situation, we are making decisions on a daily basis as things evolve. We are doing this through our Incident Management Team that has been established. Our decisions are being taken to ensure the safety of our staff and our residents.
Shielding vulnerable people
The Government has issued guidance on “Shielding” measures for older and vulnerable residents.
The council is drawing detailed plans to make sure anyone who is asked to follow this guidance is supported.
Adult Social Care
In response to these unprecedented times, Adult social care have taken steps to protect our most vulnerable residents, the following services are currently closed until further notice;
- Older adults day care
- Learning Disability Day care
- Mental Health day care and BEST employment service
- Respite services for adults and older people
The following services are priority and will continue operating to support admissions from hospital and emergency admissions from Community.
- Laburnum Lodge
- Darley Court
- Wilfred Gere
- Integrated equipment stores and Independent Living
Adult Social Work teams across the board are refocussing their services on critical activity and safeguarding.
All council delivered Youth and Play services have been stood down until further notice. This includes all open access sessions as well as childcare provision and short breaks provision delivered by the Youth and Play service for disabled children and young people.
As time goes on, some targeted provision to support the most vulnerable may be provided.
In the meantime we advise children, young people and their families to follow the services Facebook page (@teamboltonyouth (play & youth Bolton), Twitter (@teamboltonyouth) or Instagram (@teamboltonyouth), for more details and updates.
The Sport in Bolton socials have some good advice from keeping healthy at this difficult time: Twitter (@sportinbolton), Facebook (@sportinbolton).
Parks and libraries
Following the latest Government guidance on social distancing, we have decided to close all council parks and libraries until further notice.
In line with Government directions, all indoor leisure and sports facilities are now closed. Government will review this policy every 28 days.
Further information and advice for leisure centre members are available
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.
As a council we are identifying who our key workers are and will be communicating with them accordingly. We will be getting a letter to you to be able to take to school.
3. Council tax / business rates
We will be supporting council tax payers by:
- Recovery action on all council debts, including for prior years, has been suspended for three months.
- Staff will be working to proactively ensure residents get access to a range of financial support including Housing Benefit, Discretionary Housing Payments, Council Tax Support and Local Welfare Provision.
- The authority will also ensure that its Council Tax Support Scheme (CTS) continually changes to reflect changes in national benefits through the Council’s discretionary schemes.
Information for business rates paters:
- Bolton companies entitled to the extended 100% rates reliefs will no longer be required to pay their 2020/21 business rates bill and therefore Direct Debits due for these businesses on 1 April will not be claimed
- The council will agree special payment arrangements with any / all other businesses who contact us, initially delaying the 1st instalment due to 1 July 2020, and spreading the remaining instalments over the rest of the year. We will encourage those business to re-contact us again in June if they will have difficulty with the July instalment
- As with residents, all recovery action against businesses, including for prior years, has been suspended for 12 weeks.
- The Council is also working closely with the government to enable speedy implementation of the measures announced for businesses and residents over the last few weeks
For more information, call the Bolton Council contact centre on 01204 333 333.
4. Business support
Where possible, businesses should support employees to work from home and promote the latest guidance on social distancing.
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.
This includes a package of measures to support businesses including:
- a Statutory Sick Pay relief package for SMEs
- a 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England
- small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
- grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
- the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank
- a new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans
- the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme
Further information can be found on the Government website.
The council is waiting for confirmation from the Government as to how the grant scheme for businesses will work.
When this information is known this will be published, together with details of how to apply, on www.businessbolton.org.
Please monitor this website for updates and be assured that the council is committed to implementing these measures as a matter of urgency.
For more information, call the Bolton Council contact centre on 01204 333 333.
5. Community support
Bolton CVS are developing a list of people who are able and willing to help and support various services and activities during the time of the Coronavirus.
If you would like to register, please complete a form here.
You do not need to be a current volunteer and you may not be called upon. If you have any questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This help will be vital in light of the Government announcement about shielding the most vulnerable people in the community. We will be working closely with our partners to make sure these people are supported.
Read our Being a Good Neighbour tips for the best ways you can offer help in your community.
Further information can be found on the Bolton CVS website.
Dedicated telephone number for VCSE groups to access support via CVS – 01204 546055