Update from Devon County Council 28.5.20

Thursday 28 May 2020

We’ve seen another significant moment this week with the launch today of the NHS Test and Trace service. This, fast on the heels of the announcement last Friday that local councils will be at the forefront in responding to local outbreaks, in order to control infection and ensure that the public can be protected from further spread.

The two are complementary, and are vital steps in our recovery and return to more normal lives.

This week we’ve heard that non-essential shops will be opening soon; some school year groups will be returning to classrooms next week and we’re seeing more people out and about and traffic on our roads indicates more people are travelling. All this, but with restrictions. All this, but requiring all of us to remain vigilant, especially with regards to vulnerable and shielded friends and family members.

Many of us, perhaps parents of children returning to school next week, will be feeling mixed emotions. That’s understandable. Our schools are doing all they can to maintain normality, while keeping pupils and staff safe.

So this week, let’s remember how far we’ve come. Let’s clap for our NHS and care workers one last time. But let’s continue to look out for and support each other, at home, at work, and in our daily lives.

In this update:

  • NHS Test and Trace service launches
  • Local outbreak plans being developed
  • Active at home advice for older people
  • Free webinars for businesses
  • Social distancing advice for young people
  • Schools reopening for some pupils next week
  • Take care however you travel


NHS Test and Trace service launches

The NHS Test and Trace service has been launched today.

The government is introducing the service to help return life more to normal, in a way that is safe and protects our NHS and social care.

Anyone who tests positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace to find out about who they’ve been in close contact with recently. Then, if necessary, those they’ve interacted with will be notified and told they must self-isolate at home to help stop the spread of the virus.

There’s more information about how the system works on the government’s website, along with guidance for people who have been notified by NHS Test and Trace that they’ve been in contact with someone who has had a positive test result for coronavirus (COVID-19).


Local outbreak plans will be supplementary to the national test and trace arrangements

Last Friday the government announced that Councils will receive a share of an extra £300m to help establish local outbreak plans which will include local coordination and management of infection control and of local testing and tracing arrangements.

We welcomed that announcement because it’s something we were calling for.

We’ve been asked how those plans sit alongside the government’s announcement today about national testing and tracing.

These arrangements, to establish local outbreak plans, are supplementary to the national testing and tracing arrangements, and are to be in place across the country by the end of June.

A locally managed outbreak response which can quickly spot and then mobilise all our local resources to contain any new clusters of infection or hotspots is seen as a good way to ensure that the release of lockdown can be managed more effectively and safely.


Public Health England’s Active at Home advice

Since the lockdown began many people are finding they have become far less active, which can have a negative effect on both your physical health and mental wellbeing.

It’s particularly concerning for older people, who lose muscle condition and mobility rapidly, and often find it harder to be active when they can’t do their normal daily activities.

There’s lots of excellent digital resources available to support people to stay active and healthy at home, but many elderly people don’t use the internet.

Public Health England has developed a booklet to support older people and those who are shielded to be active and healthy at home by helping them find ways to build activity into their day.

It’s part of the Sport England Join the Movement campaign designed to provide inspiration and trusted information to the public about how to get active in and around the home during the coronavirus pandemic.

If you know someone who would benefit from reading this booklet, you could download it and print them a copy then pop it in the post or if they use the internet just send them a link.


Free webinars to help businesses to reopen workplaces safely

Some shops and supermarkets, as well as pharmacies, banks and petrol stations have remained open during the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown.

But from next week, other businesses will be reopening, and non-essential shops opening again in England from 15 June.

For those employers, there is now a lot of published guidance for businesses to ensure that workplaces are as safe as possible.

The government is hosting FREE webinars for businesses on how to make their workplace coronavirus (COVID-19) secure.

The webinars cover a range of different types of workplace, recognising that many businesses operate in multiple settings, for example, an office and a factory and with a fleet of vehicles.

Next week, there will be webinars aimed at businesses that operate in construction and other outdoor work; labs and research facilities; offices and contact centres; and for businesses working from home.

You can register to join any of these webinars for free via their website.

Some webinars have already happened, but can be viewed as recordings on the government’s You Tube channel.They include webinars on factories, plants and warehouses; restaurants offering takeaway or deliveries; shops and branches; and vehicles.


National Bus Pass use to revert to standard operating times

Friday 5 June will be the last day that National Bus Pass holders in Devon can use their passes before 9:30am.

Pass holders in the county have been able to use their pass at any time of day following the temporary relaxation of restrictions in the county in March to help people during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

However, as more people return to their workplaces and social distancing needs to be maintained on bus services, early morning bus capacity is needed for commuters that have no other way of getting to work.

Travel with the National Bus Pass will revert to the standard operating times from Saturday 6 June – with unlimited travel at weekends and Bank Holidays and from 9:30am until the end of service on weekdays.


Social distancing guide for young people

The government has developed a plan to allow people to gradually go back to the way they were living before coronavirus (COVID-19). But it’s a gradual process, happening in different stages for different people.

Right now, the advice is still that everyone should be staying at home as much as possible.

The government has published guidance on social distancing especially for young people to help them understand what is expected.


If you are a young carer

If you are caring for someone who is vulnerable, there are some simple steps that you can take to protect them and to reduce their risk time, including practising good handwashing and personal hygiene.

You can find out about different sources of support that could be used and access further advice at Carers UK.

Local help and support is also available to you from Devon Carers

Pupils returning to schools from next week

Some year groups in primary and secondaries will be returning to classrooms from next week, Monday 1 June, and schools have been working around the clock to ensure that they can open safely to these wider numbers of pupils.

Parents, especially those with children in the year groups returning, will have heard directly from their schools about the return arrangements.

While teachers and teaching assistants will be doing everything that they can to put pupils at ease, social distancing will mean that things will look a little different. Classroom sizes are likely to be smaller. Pupils may have different break times, and there will be measures in place to maintain social distancing.

If you are a parent with a child or children returning to school, you may be feeling a mixture of emotions, which is understandable. If you would like support, please contact your school first and they will be able to help.

Further guidance for parents and carers to help prepare for the wider opening of nurseries, schools and colleges is available on the government website.


Advice to take extra care, however you travel

As lockdown restrictions ease, and as some schools start taking more pupils from Monday and shops re-open later in the month, we’re reminding people to look out for each other.

More children and parents will be making the journey to and from schools. More people will be cycling and walking to work rather than using public transport. All the while, we’ll need to be maintaining social distancing.

So we’re encouraging people to take care on the roads, pavements and cycle routes as people start to travel more.

We’re backing Road Safety GB’s ‘Take Extra Care campaign, and asking:

  • Drivers, give people walking and cycling even more time and space
  • Pedestrians and cyclists, be considerate to each other on shared spaces,and keep that distance when passing.
  • If you’re new to cycling, or you’re out of practice in traffic, please take extra care as the roads get busier.

Clap for NHS and care workers one last time

This evening is the last clap for NHS, care workers and all essential workers.

It might be the final clap, but we want to say…our appreciation doesn’t end here.

Our gratitude will continue every day for the dedication and commitment of all key workers, including the thousands in Devon working in health and social care in particular.

We want them to know that even though Thursday claps might be ending, our applause for them continues. Join us at 8pm, for one last time. Let’s make it a big one!