Today the government announced all schools in England will close on Friday afternoon until further notice.
Schools in the city
Major changes have been announced for schools from the end of the school day on Friday 20 March and for the foreseeable future.
The government has confirmed that schools will close to all pupils except the children of key workers (such as NHS staff) and also vulnerable children (such as those with a social worker and children with Education Health Care Plans).
Staff from the council’s Families, Children and Learning (FCL) team will now prioritise how to support schools to make these government decisions happen on time.
This requirement will also apply to early years, sixth and further education provision.
The Director of Families, Children and Learning is contacting all headteachers this evening and will be following up tomorrow.
This is a critical point in the coronavirus situation and we are ready to respond.
Our vulnerable people cell (working group) is linking together partners including the Food Partnership and the Volunteer Centre to look at how to tackle food poverty (not being able to afford food) and food insecurity (lack of access to food). The aim is to mobilise as soon as possible.
Our Families, Children and Learning cell is working on how to provide families who receive free school meals or are entering food poverty with the food they need in the weeks and months ahead.
More information to follow soon.
Services for homeless people and people who are rough sleeping
We’re aware that rough sleepers and single homeless are a vulnerable group who might be particularly affected by Covid 19 and have moved quickly to put emergency support services in place. We will be keeping the position under review and will be redirecting resources as required. We’re keen to avoid panic or community tensions arising.
We’ve identified a number of self-contained units in the city that can be used for homeless people needing to self-isolate. We currently have 10 units ready and are keeping all suitable properties that become available clear for this client group. We are working through a triaged referral route for rough sleepers who need to self-isolate so services aren’t overwhelmed. Currently, we’ve had no-one referred who has needed to self-isolate.
This means placing everyone else into spot purchase or shared facility accommodation.
We are working across a number of areas to create further capacity and facilitate moving people through to keep the emergency facilities as clear as we can. This is includes re-purposing accommodation for people who need to self-isolate, sourcing additional spot-purchase accommodation, increasing focus on moving people on from current long term accommodation and supported accommodation and exploring where we can bring forward new temporary accommodation schemes in development.
We are also working across the council to identify gaps in provision and having discussions with community and voluntary groups who would best placed to meet those gaps, such as delivery of food and other essentials.
We’re refocusing our Housing Options Service, including our Welfare Officers, to reduce face-to-face contact with clients. Where possible, we will contact people by phone and email to avoid people having to come into the Customer Service Centre and reduce the chances of spreading infection.
We have no plans to close any of the various emergency rough sleeping accommodation services in the city, although we are looking at how we can move on people from those projects as quickly as possible.
Some of this involves re-connection for people do not have a local connection to the city where they are not at risk if re-connected. There is a high flow of people coming to the city to replace anyone re-connected, and so Housing, St Mungo’s and Adult Social Care commissioning, in conjunction with the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government, are working together to prioritise engaging re-connecting people as quickly as possible.
How residents can help
Information about how to help during the current pandemic has been published on our website, this includes advice about how to prevent scams.
More details will be added as plans evolve.
Council Tax help
If anyone is concerned about being able to pay council tax bills due to the impact of the coronavirus, please let us know as soon as possible. The best way is to contact us via the web site which has an online form or by phone on 01273 291 291. Please note that due to high call volumes we recommend using the online form.
Support for business
We have written to businesses across the city identified by our finance team as potentially eligible for retail rate relief with more information about how to contact us if they need to.
The government has also published support for businesses, including details of a Business Support Helpline for free advice
What to do if you have symptoms
Stay at home for 7 days if you have either:
- a high temperature
- a new continuous cough
This will help to protect others in your community while you are infectious.
Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital with mild symptoms.
You do not need to contact NHS 111 to tell them you’re staying at home.
The NHS will not be testing those self-isolating with mild symptoms.
Everyone is being reminded to follow Public Health England advice to:
- Always carry tissues with you and use them to catch your cough or sneeze. Then bin the tissue, and wash your hands, or use a sanitiser gel. Effective sanitiser gel should have a 60% alcohol content or higher.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after using public transport. Use a sanitiser gel (see above) if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are unwell.
Our priority is to collect your rubbish and recycling. If we can’t collect your bin or box, we will collect it on the next scheduled day.
Environment contact centre
- The environment contact centre number 01273 292929 will be closed from Monday 23 March
- We will be encouraging people to email and use online forms, and these will be staffed and prioritised
- We will be communicating this information on the website and through media and social media
Refuse and recycling
- We will be unable to catch up on missed work
- If a collection is missed, residents’ next collection will take place on their next scheduled collection day if possible.
- Residents can take any type of waste to the two Household Waste Recycling Sites (HWRS). This can include taking friends and neighbours waste if they can’t get there by car etc.
- The emptying of all litter bins in the city centre, east and west (including dog poo bins) will be prioritised
- Collections are being suspended from today. This will be for two weeks initially while we try to source agency drivers and operatives on short term contracts.
- This decision will be reviewed on a fortnightly basis, and you will be updated then.
- People can take their garden waste to our Household Waste Recycling Sites (HWRS)
- Customers will have their contract extended where appropriate to cover collections that are missed
- We will not be introducing a third garden waste round on 1 April, as was planned.
- All customers can still renew their subscription or sign up if invited to do so, time will be added to these subscriptions also to make up for lost time.
Environmental Enforcement Service
- This service is being suspended to ensure we reduce social interactions
- By doing this we can make the most efficient use of staff resources in other areas of Cityclean
Bin and box collections
- This is continuing for now but will be suspended once staff resources make delivery unmanageable
- If depleted resources mean we cannot collect commercial waste then we may ask Commercial/trade customers in communal bin areas to place their waste in communal bins
Graffiti and jet washing
- Only offensive graffiti and human waste will be removed
- At present we are keeping our toilets open. However, as the contract is run by Healthmatic, this will be kept under review, but may mean reducing opening hours or sites that are open.
Community clean ups
- Beach cleans, Tidy Up Teams etc are being suspended
Events and venues
Government guidance advises people to avoid large gatherings, and gatherings in smaller public spaces such as pubs, cinemas, restaurants, theatres, bars and clubs.
Venues and events across the city have responded by postponing or cancelling activities in response to the government announcement.
The Brighton Royal Pavilion and Museums are closed. Work continues on the move to the Royal Pavilion and Museums Trust which is due to come into effect on 1 April.
At present the government advice has not changed since Monday 16 March. The latest information is on the government website and this link can shared with anyone asking for more information.