Coronavirus Update – Stoke-on-Trent City Council 15/07/2021

Step 4 of lockdown release

This is intended to keep you updated on the latest developments linked to Covid-19. The bulletin includes information on:

  • Prime Minister confirms stage 4 of the Government’s roadmap will go ahead on 19 July
  • Update on council services
  • Covid-19 cases rising in Stoke-on-Trent, public health guidance and testing opportunities
  • Enhanced community testing scheme in Hanley this week
  • 24-hour Mental Health Helpline
  • Vaccination update
  • Summer holiday activities and food vouchers
  • Community Health Champions grants and recruitment

Prime Minister confirms stage 4 of the Government’s roadmap will go ahead on 19 July

This week, the Prime Minister announced that stage 4 of the Government’s roadmap will go ahead from Monday, 19 July. He explained that, although restrictions are being lifted, the pandemic is not over and COVID-19 continues to carry risks for everybody. He said the Government expects and recommends that people wear a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces where you come into contact with those you don’t normally meet, such as on public transport, and reminded people that life cannot instantly be reverted to as it was before COVID-19.

You can read the Prime Minister’s full speech here.

The pandemic is far from over but we all need to live with it and proceed now with caution. Once the restrictions are lifted next week, we can all make our own choices and judgements as to whether to wear a face covering, whether to practice social distancing, and so on. Our goal is for our residents to be safe and well, and feel able to make informed decisions to help protect themselves and their loved ones.

 

Stage 4 of the Government’s roadmap summary:

The following changes are set to come into place from Monday, 19 July:

Social distancing

All remaining limits on social contact (currently six people or two households indoors, or 30 people outdoors) will be removed and there will be no more restrictions on how many people can meet in any setting, indoors or outdoors.

The only setting where social distancing will still be required will be ports of entry for passengers between disembarkation and border control.

Businesses

All settings will be able to open, including nightclubs. Large events, such as music concerts and sporting events, can resume without any limits on attendance or social distancing requirements.

It will no longer be necessary for the Government to instruct people to work from home. Employers can start to plan a return to workplaces.

Regulations that place COVID-secure requirements on businesses, including table service, and distancing between tables, will be lifted. However, businesses are still able to keep these measures in place.

Employers will still have a legal duty to manage risks to those affected by their business. The way to do this is to carry out a health and safety risk assessment, including the risk of COVID-19, and to take reasonable steps to mitigate the risks you identify. 

Businesses must not require a self-isolating worker to come to work, and should make sure that workers and customers who feel unwell do not attend the setting.

Education settings

‘Bubbles’ will end for all children under 18, social distancing will no longer be necessary, and schools will not need to stagger start and finish times, though they can continue with existing arrangements until the end of term if they wish. 

Life events

All restrictions on life events such as weddings, funerals, bar/bat mitzvahs and baptisms will be removed, including the remaining restrictions on the number of attendees. There will be no requirement for table service at life events, or restrictions on singing or dancing.

Face coverings

The legal requirements to wear a face covering will be lifted in all settings. You can still voluntarily wear a face covering as this will reduce your risk of catching COVID-19 and reduce the risk of spreading it to others, especially where you come into contact with people you don’t normally meet in enclosed and crowded spaces.

Self-isolation (From Monday, 16 August)

From Monday, 16 August, anyone who’s a close contact of a positive case will no longer have to self-isolate, if they’ve been fully vaccinated.

If someone gets their second dose just before, or after, Monday, 16 August, they’ll need to wait until two weeks after they get the second jab to benefit from this so the vaccine has time to build the maximum possible protection.

Close contacts who are fully vaccinated should take a PCR test as soon as possible.

Anyone who tests positive will have to self-isolate, whether they’ve had the jab or not.

Read the full statement on self-isolation rules by going to: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-response-summer-2021-roadmap/coronavirus-how-to-stay-safe-and-help-prevent-the-spread#Mids

Key protections staying in place to minimise the risk of COVID-19

Although these restrictions are set to be lifted, the Government is keep in place the following key protections to reduce your risk of catching and spreading COVID-19:

  • Testing when you have symptoms and targeted asymptomatic testing in education, high risk workplaces and to help people manage their personal risk.
  • Isolating when positive or when contacted by NHS Test and Trace.
  • Border quarantine: for all arriving from red list countries and for those people not fully vaccinated arriving from amber list countries.
  • Cautious guidance for individuals, businesses and the vulnerable whilst prevalence is high including:
    • whilst Government is no longer instructing people to work from home if they can, Government would expect and recommend a gradual return over the summer;
    • Government expects and recommends that people wear face coverings in crowded areas such as public transport;
    • being outside or letting fresh air in;
    • minimising the number, proximity and duration of social contacts.
    • encouraging and supporting businesses and large events to use the NHS COVID Pass in high risk settings. The Government will work with organisations where people are likely to be in close proximity to others outside their household to encourage the use of this. If sufficient measures are not taken to limit infection, the Government will consider mandating certification in certain venues at a later date.

For more information, please visit https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-response-summer-2021-roadmap/coronavirus-how-to-stay-safe-and-help-prevent-the-spread#lifting-restrictions


Consider limiting contact with those you don't live with


Update on council services

Contact tracing

As COVID-19 cases continue to rapidly rise in Stoke-on-Trent, our contact tracing team have been working incredibly hard to support residents who have tested positive for the virus and to trace their close contacts and support them to self-isolate. The maximum number of cases received in a day was 190 – higher than any other day – and last week was the team’s busiest one yet. The team offer advice and support to people during the contact tracing calls, and signpost them to other services such as our Covid stewards or other council teams and partners where necessary.

Public protection

Our public protection teams will continue to support workplace settings if there is a COVID-19 outbreak at a premises and will continue to work with public health and other council teams to do so. Businesses are strongly urged to strongly consider keeping measures they have implemented, such as staff using face coverings, hand sanitisers and screens, to keep protecting their staff and their customers against this awful virus. Residents are also encouraged to use face coverings in indoor public places and to continue to use QR codes at all settings, which will ensure that they are contacted by the national Test and Trace system if needed.

#StokeonTrentTogether

The #StokeonTrentTogether support network for people self-isolating who need support will continue to access to priority delivery slots, prescriptions and emergency provisions.

Bereavement services

There will be up to a potential 250 people in the chapel. We won’t be limiting numbers and families will be allowed to make their own decisions, based on the latest government advice, about how many people to have in the chapel. If families wish to limit numbers, they will be able to make this choice for themselves.

Leisure centres

Our leisure centre staff will be advised to wear face coverings where needed, but in line with Government guidance, this will not be compulsory. Although enhanced cleaning will end, premises will still be regularly cleaned to a high standard, and cleaning equipment will still be available to customers for use.

Museums

Booking will no longer be essential and the museums – Potteries Museum & Art Gallery and Gladstone Pottery Museum – will allow walk-in visitors. The booking systems introduced during lockdown will be retained so customers can reserve a slot, if they wish, to avoid disappointment.


Face coverings


Covid-19 cases rising in Stoke-on-Trent, public health guidance and testing opportunities

The seven-day rate of coronavirus cases in the city is now 425.9 per 100,000 people, for the week 2 July – 8 July 2021. There continues to be a significant increase of cases in the city, with an increase of 62.7 per cent on the previous seven days. The percentage of people who have had a test and tested positive is 9.2 per cent. Cases are widespread across the city but the hotspot area is Moorcroft.

Our cases are continuing to rise, which is expected as more people are out and about and travelling across the country. A week ago, we announced that the seven-day rate in our city was 258.2 per 100,000, and already it has nearly doubled to 425.9 per 100,000 and looks like rising closer to 500 per 100,000 in the next few days.

From the figures detailed above, it’s evident that, in line with the figures across the rest of the country, infections are increasing rapidly, reinforcing our need to continue being cautious.

We currently do not believe that “surge testing” will bring any benefit, but we are continuing to work closely with schools to help them communicate with students and families to reinforce the importance of following the guidance, taking up vaccines when offered and testing twice a week, as well as offering our pop-up testing centres.

We can all help to drive our rates down by continuing to follow the public health advice and to keep regularly testing ourselves. However, the best way of all that we can help to protect ourselves and others around us is to get vaccinated and encourage all our family, friends and colleagues to do the same if they are eligible. The vaccine does not completely eliminate the chance of getting Covid but it does offer a huge protective effect by reducing at least eight-fold your chance of catching it, the severity of illness if you do get it, the chance of having to go into hospital if you do and ultimately the risk of dying.

We need to keep in mind the public health advice and to keep getting tested for COVID-19 at least twice a week, and recording the results. The more tests we do, the more they will help to drive down our positivity rates and most importantly keep ourselves and others around us safe. You must also self-isolate if you receive a positive test result or are informed that you are a close contact of somebody who has tested positive.

 

Public health guidance

Although measures such as social distancing and wearing face coverings are not mandatory now, it doesn’t mean that we still can’t use them. Choosing to follow the guidance and continuing to wear a face covering, and also getting regular COVID-19 tests, and your vaccine when you are called, are our best defences against the spread of the virus.

We recognise that these are very personal choices and therefore we encourage all residents to make the best decision for themselves and their loved ones.

Hands, Face, Space and Fresh Air – these are simple measures we can take to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Following these will also help to drive down the city’s case rates:

  • Hands – wash your hands regularly with warm water soap for at least 20 seconds (the length of time it takes to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice). You can also use hand sanitisers while you’re out and about.
  • Face – Wear a face covering in indoor public places, unless you are medically exempt.
  • Space – Keep at least a two-metre distance from people you are not meeting with – government guidance means that you can choose to have close contact with friends and family, but it’s important you distance yourselves from other people in public places.
  • Fresh Air – Meet up with others outside where you can or if you are inside, make sure the rooms are well ventilated, for example, open a window. Fresh air is known to lower the risk of transmitting COVID-19.

COVID-19 is passed through close contact, so practising Hands, Face, Space and Fresh Air wherever you can- including in your own and other people’s homes – will help stop it from spreading.

If you’re going out to places such as the pub or shops, or you’re going for a day out and using public transport, and they look particularly crowded, please be cautious and make your own decision as to whether you feel safe or not. If you don’t, then leave. We all need to take personal responsibility.

Testing

Home testing kits

Everyone in England can access free lateral flow tests (LFT). The kits are quick to use from home, and give results in 30 minutes. One in three people with coronavirus don’t show symptoms, so the tests are really important in helping to quickly spot positive cases and squash any outbreaks. Testing twice a week should now be a normal part of our lives, even if you have had the vaccination you can still spread the virus, and there are still lots of people who have not yet had their jab.

It’s also really important that your test results are registered online or over the phone – whether your result is positive, negative or a void result. If testing at home, residents will need to register their results online or by calling 119. They should self-isolate if positive and order a confirmatory PCR test within 48 hours of a positive LFT.

You can order lateral flow testing kits to use at home via any of the following routes:

Community Collect

Home testing kits are available to collect from a number of venues across the city. Our staff are trained and on hand to help you and they are available to answer any questions or concerns you may have and to talk you through how to use these tests. You can find out more details about the community collect venues which offer this via https://www.stoke.gov.uk/communitycollect

Pharmacy collection:

58 pharmacies across the city offer home testing kits. You can find out where you can collect them from via a map on the NHS website. Click here to find out more.

Ordering tests online:

If you cannot collect a home test kit from a community testing site or pharmacy, you can order them online by clicking here.

If you have one of the three main symptoms then you are not eligible for lateral flow testing. You should instead book a test through https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test, or by calling 119.

Please also remember that confirmatory PCR tests for positive lateral flow tests have been reintroduced. It is really important that everyone has a confirmatory PCR test within 48 hours maximum of a positive LFT at our community venues.

Book a Covid-19 test

It is important that we all get tested regularly for coronavirus– at least twice a week. There are different ways that are convenient for you to access tests. Every test we take helps ensure we are protecting are families, friends, colleagues and communities. If we want lockdown restrictions to continue to ease, we must keep testing twice a week and follow the guidance.

You will still be able to book tests at our community testing centres and there are still plenty of slots available. A full list of community locations and booking options and a range of locations, dates and times for the week ahead the are available on our website via www.stoke.gov.uk/bookacovid19test

PCR tests

If you are symptomatic or need a confirmatory PCR test for a positive lateral flow test, and are unable to book one using the national system, you can alternatively request PCR home delivery.

 If you require an urgent test you do have the option of a walk-up (unbooked) test at Fenton Manor Car Park or Synetics Solutions.

PCR tests are available in the city at Stoke City FC South Car Park, Fenton Manor Car Park and Synetics Solution and can be booked by going to Coronavirus (COVID-19) – NHS (www.nhs.uk) or by phoning 119.

Please remember to stop the spread of Covid-19 it is important to self-isolate immediately when you start to feel unwell with Covid-19 symptoms.  


Testing phone


Enhanced community testing scheme in Hanley this week

Last week, nearly 700 home testing kits were given out at the pop-up testing centre at The Potteries Centre. The teams will be back at The Potteries Centre this week offering lateral flow testing on site and home kits:

Dates: Thursday, 15 July and Saturday, 17 July 2021

Time: 10am – 3pm

Location: The Potteries Shopping Centre. Via the lower entrance outside T.K.Maxx. In the previous Art Shop unit, near the escalator.


Hanley Pop-up

24-hour Mental Health Helpline

The 24-hour Mental Health Helpline was established by Stoke-on-Trent City Council with Brighter Futures, at the beginning of the second national coronavirus lockdown in November 2020. Since it was launched, it has received a total of 36,565 contacts for help* from people needing support for their mental health, with 808 of these being made by people who said they were feeling suicidal.*

Over the past few months, people have been supported with a number of issues by the helpline. Some of these include including:

  • People feeling isolated
  • Fear about COVID-19 restrictions lifting
  • Job losses
  • Relationship breakdowns

Call handlers from Brighter Futures provide callers with a safe space to talk about issues they are facing. They can then signpost callers to the most appropriate support service.

With the remaining coronavirus restrictions set to be lifted on Monday, 19 July, we know that many people will feel anxious and overwhelmed. It’s okay to feel like this and it’s important that we look after our mental health and wellbeing, so please do seek support if you need it. The 24-hour Mental Health Helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Please call 01782 234233 to access support.

The 24-hour helpline was extended for an additional six months in March 2021.

*These figures are correct as of Tuesday, 6 July 2021.

For information on more support services across Stoke-on-Trent, please go to http://www.stoke.gov.uk/supportservices


Vaccination update

Walk-in vaccination clinics

The next walk-in vaccination centre in Stoke-on-Trent will be held today:

Date: Thursday, 15 July 2021

Time: 3.30pm – 5pm

Location: Norfolk Street Surgery, Shelton primary care centre ST1 4PB

For: Pfizer (1st and 2nd doses)

Walk-in vaccination clinics will be updated via the NHS Together We’re Better website. Please keep an eye on this link for updates on walk in vaccination clinics across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.

 

Please keep your vaccine appointment

We are also urging people with appointments for a vaccination to please use them. There has been a great uptake of the vaccine from people in the city – we won’t be able to give stats on this as this work is NHS-led – but we want to urge people to make sure they don’t waste their appointment.

Please don’t be a DNA (Did Not Attend) statistic, and please prioritise your vaccination appointment – it’s life-saving. Anyone who has a COVID-19 vaccination appointment booked, but can’t attend should reschedule via the ‘manage my bookings’ button on the National Booking System, or by calling 119. Every DNA means someone has to wait longer and risk vaccines being wasted. 

All adults aged 18 + in England can now book their COVID-19 vaccine. People with a learning disability over the age of 16 are also now eligible for the vaccination. Please book yours as soon as possible by going to https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/book-coronavirus-vaccination/ 

If you care for someone with a learning disability who has not received an invite, contact your GP.

Don’t forget to press ‘confirm’ when booking – you’ll need to take your reference number along to your appointment.

If you have booked your vaccine, it’s really important that you keep your appointment, and if you can’t, please cancel it.

The first dose should give you more protection from three to four weeks after you’ve had it, but you need two doses for stronger and longer-lasting protection.

It is really important that everyone has the vaccine when they are offered it. But remember that just because you have had your first or both doses of the vaccine, it is unfortunately not 100% protection from the virus. Although your risk is lower, there is still a chance that you can catch it and you can still spread it to others who could become poorly from it.


Walk in vaccine clinics


Second dose of Covid vaccine


Summer holiday activities and food vouchers

More than 10,000 school pupils in Stoke-on-Trent are set to benefit from in excess of £1 million of funding, which will provide a raft of fun and educational activities and food throughout the summer holidays.

The Government’s Holiday Activities and Food fund (HAF) primarily supports children who receive free school meals. However, here in Stoke-on-Trent, a unique partnership between Stoke-on-Trent City Council and the Hubb Foundation will ensure many more children across the city are able to access this summer’s activities programme.

The summer programme is being delivered by both schools and in community venues. Sessions at community venues will be open to children and families. School-based sessions are being coordinated directly with school lead staff who have the best knowledge of the children in their care.

Available to eligible children aged between five and 16, the sessions will include a range of physical activities, arts and crafts and exciting new experiences run by expert organisations including STEM activities.

A healthy meal will be also be provided for each attendee. Children will be offered free activities typically for four hours a day, for four days a week throughout the summer holiday period.

The HAF programme is a Government initiative funded by the Department for Education that offers free places for children and young people across the Easter, summer and Christmas holidays in 2021. It recognises that school holidays can be pressure points for some families due to increased costs and reduced incomes.


Community Health Champions grants and recruitment

A new grant scheme has been launched to help Stoke-on-Trent’s voluntary and community organisations to engage with the Community Health Champion project.

Grass Roots grants of up to £2,000 will be offered to small community groups, who will commit to at least one member of their group becoming a Community Health Champion.

VCSE Partner Grants of up to £5,000 are available to registered charities and social enterprises. These organisations will commit to at least two staff members or volunteers becoming Community Health Champions.

Eighteen Community Health Champions have been recruited so far through the scheme launched with VAST. Community Health Champion volunteers will work closely with the project team, their communities, and some of the city’s health professionals, to share health-related messages in innovative and locally relevant ways. It’s an engaging and creative opportunity for volunteers to make a difference in their communities. Currently, the project is focusing on the COVID-19 pandemic.

If your community group or organisation would like to apply for a grant, please go to  https://chc.vast.org.uk/support-for-local-vcfse-organisations/

If you think you could make a real difference to the health and wellbeing of residents across our city, you can apply online. We want to hear from anybody living in Stoke-on-Trent who is over the age of 18 and wants to get involved in different communities across the city.

You can find out more about Community Health Champions by visiting https://chc.vast.org.uk/.

The Community Health Champions have their own social media accounts. Please follow them on @sothealthchamps on Facebook and Twitter.

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