Latest changes as of 24th March 2020

The number of UK cases of the virus can be viewed on this dashboard.

The Government have announced further measures to stop the disease spreading between households [link]. People will only be allowed to leave their home for the following very limited purposes:

  • shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible
  • one form of exercise a day – for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household
  • any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
  • travelling to and from work, but only where this is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home

The police will have the powers to enforce these measures, including through fines and dispersing gatherings.

To ensure compliance with the Government’s instruction to stay at home, the Government has:

  • closed all shops selling non-essential goods, including clothing and electronic stores and other premises including libraries, playgrounds and outdoor gyms, and places of worship
  • stopped all gatherings of more than two people in public – excluding people you live with
  • stopped all social events, including weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies, but excluding funerals

Parks will remain open for exercise but gatherings will be dispersed. The full list of businesses and premises expected to close is available here [link].

The Government has said it will look again at these measures in 3 weeks, and relax them if the evidence shows this is possible.  Updated guidance on staying at home and away from others has been published alongside this announcement [link].

The Foreign Secretary has also advised all British tourists and short-stay travellers currently abroad to return to the UK where commercial flight options are still available [link].

For businesses, the Government has announced additional measures in the emergency Coronavirus Bill to protect commercial tenants from eviction who cannot pay their rent because of coronavirus. The measures will mean no business will be forced out of their premises if they miss a payment in the next 3 months. As commercial tenants will still be liable for the rent after this period, the Government is monitoring the impact on commercial landlords’ cash flow and continues to be in dialogue with them.  [link].

The legislation also includes new measures to support Business Improvement  Districts (BID)  – to ensure no area loses its BID during this period, the legislation will allow a delay to ballots between now and 31 December 2020 until March 2021.

Further guidance has also been issued on:

  • Guidance for local authorities on eligibility and delivery of the Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF) [link]
  • Guidance for apprentices, employers, training providers and assessment organisations in response to the impact of COVID-19 [link]
  • Operational guidance for further education (FE) providers on maintaining education and skills training provision [link]
  • As of today, reviews and reassessments for disability benefits are being suspended for the next three months

 Bristol Cases

  • As of 12.00pm on 24/03/20 there have been 28 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Bristol.
  • Please note, the Government has decided not to test people with mild symptoms who do not require hospitalisation
  • The figures do not reflect the extent of spread within the community, which is now assumed to be widespread.  It is this widespread community transmission which makes the current social distancing measures so vitally important, and why the message for people to self-isolate needs to be continued to be conveyed by Members and Stakeholders
  • Local authority numbers of confirmed cases are reported on this dashboard and updated each afternoon

 Bristol City Council

  • We are advising staff to observe the latest government advice about working from home where they can, although we need to continue delivering essential front line services to our communities.
  • To help manage maintain these services, HR colleagues are working with managers of services that are currently closed to identify colleagues that can be reassigned to work in other parts of the organisation.

Public Communication Updates

  • Mayor Marvin Rees, Jacqui Jensen (Executive Director of People, Bristol City Council) and Sandra (CEO, Voscur) showed a short video last from 6:30pm on the key messages surrounding Can Do Bristol and offering help as a volunteer in an organised way. Jacqui and Sandra then followed up from the video with a live Q+A session on the BCC Facebook page, answering questions from the public. There were almost 100 comments on the video with plenty of questions from keen volunteers looking to get stuck into helping out in their local communities as quickly as possible: https://www.facebook.com/BristolCouncil/videos/583573612243951/
  • Mayor Marvin Rees released another bulletin video, announcing: a call out for 450 places for homeless and rough sleepers, that all parks facilities are now shut, and that NHS staff will be able to use Trenchard Street car park for free: https://www.facebook.com/BristolCouncil/videos/210671416703326/
  • A further statement from the Mayor was released to clarify the closure of parks facilities – we are not able to close parklands: https://www.facebook.com/BristolCouncil/photos/a.533536933346377/3145840972115947/?type=3&theater
  • A press release was issued to reinforce the call out for homeless spaces from Airbnb’s, shelters, hotels, and student accommodation providers. People were encouraged to email covid19.accommodation@bristol.gov.uk if they could help: https://news.bristol.gov.uk/news/bristol-city-council-calls-on
  • Mayor Marvin Rees shared his blog platform with Cllr Steve Pearce to share thanks and gratitude to all of the Bristol Waste staff who do their utmost to keep our city clean and tiday: https://thebristolmayor.com/2020/03/23/big-tidy/
  • Bristol 24/7 have continued their live updates on the Coronavirus situation in Bristol, supporting BCC and Mayoral messages: https://www.bristol247.com/news-and-features/news/coronavirus-live-updates-march-24-2020-uk-goes-into-lockdown
  • Allotments: we know allotments are a good way for many people to exercise, so Bristol City Council are continuing to keep them open for now, although some facilities an site (e.g. toilets) will now be closed.
  • Bristol food businesses still operating: Environmental Health have been in regular contact with businesses and a letter is being sent from our Director of Public Health to give clear advice for businesses that are looking to make provision for takeaways and deliveries.

Bristol Volunteering  

  • The following short-link should be used to direct citizens to helping others and volunteering information: www.bristol.gov.uk/wearebristol
  • Videos about volunteering safely are now available in Arabic, Bengali, Kurdish, Polish, Punjabi, Somali and Urdu at the link above. Please do share them.
  • Questions and answers from Sandra and Jacqui’s Q&A on Facebook last night can be viewed here in comments below the video which is pinned to the top of our page: www.facebook.com/bristolcouncil
  • We are updating ourguidance for volunteering page in light of new guidance from government
  • We are supporting the Communities and Neighbourhoods team to improve functionality of the Can Do Bristol website to make it more accessible and easy to use

Bristol Education Sector

  • Last night’s additional information and advice, in relation to social-distancing, will inevitably create increased pressure for head teachers 
  • The current ask of schools and settings to provide childcare for keyworkers and vulnerable children has not changed and, where possible, continue with the same arrangements as yesterday
  • We do not know if we will receive any further information today, specifically for schools and settings
  • We contacted many head teachers yesterday to discuss individual positions and we will continue with those calls today; their feedback was extremely useful and there were a number of common questions and concerns. We are working on circulating a bulletin to all schools by the end of the day today.
  • The communications team are also working with a number of service leads to co-ordinate key messages to parents.

Bristol Social Care Sector

  • The majority of frontline Social Work/Occupational Therapy teams are now working from home and only undertaking essential visits.  We are prioritising resources to respond to urgent need – and supporting the demand in hospitals and ‘front door’ provision.  We are no longer undertaking any non-urgent Deprivation of Liberty Assessments (DOLS) as most care homes are closed.
  • There is a dedicated response set up for Direct Payment users, to ensure they have enough support and can access Protective Personal Equipment (packs are being made available). We have also raised this nationally for advice.
  • Care services are now operating with increasing staff absence due to self-isolation or sickness (25% or more) – we are deploying care staff across all services to keep services running.  We have requested urgent redeployment of staff and are working with HR on recruitment drive through Proud to Care.
  • The Commissioning team is working closely with all care providers to ensure they are operating safely, managing and sharing resources and supporting individual homes where there are several residents with Covid-19 (currently 2).
  • We are working closely with health partners to implement the national requirements for hospital discharge.
  • Additional Government funding is available for Local Authorities for emergency response – a proposal has been prepared for internal BCC sign-off.

Bristol Children’s Services Sector

  • The Children’s Services team are reviewing all risk assessments and adjusting the way in which we see/work with children and families with statutory intervention changing to virtual and telephone contact where possible.
  • PPE is in place where face to face visits are still required and COVID-19 symptoms are present.
  • A reduced capacity across the service means that the Early Help Offer is currently limited.
  • We are pushing information out through local networks and the local offer website for parents and practitioners.
  • Dynamic assessment and reprioritisation is being carried out daily.
  • Assessment and reprioritisation with partners is taking place twice – three times each week.
  • Significant concerns are being raised re: food distribution, costs to families of keeping children home (utility, rent and other bills), inability of poorer families to stay in touch as access to things like free Wi-Fi through communal settings is limited/non-existent.
  • We are attending to contextual risks for young people through reviewed risk assessment and multiagency safety plans – community safety measures are being reviewed (including risk of domestic violence and impact on children).

Bristol Business Sector and Economy

  • The City Office is working with the Economic Development Team, One City Economy Board and Business West to establish mechanisms for city partner organisations to strategically support the city’s economic recovery
  • A current priority for Bristol City Council is to cancel the payments due to be called by direct debit in April for businesses entitled to 100% relief. Discounts will apply as per following guidance: https://www.bristol.gov.uk/business-rates/budget-2020-new-rate-discounts
  • The council is looking to process small business grants (£25k) ASAP. We know that we have circa 5k business who could benefit from this based on those paying business rates. However only 400 have actively requested this so far. Where possible we want to make this available to all ASAP. All we require are business rate account number and bank details for payment by BACs. Please do highlight via your networks to ensure all businesses can benefit. As a council we will promote via our networks and social channels
  • Support can be found at WECA’s Growth Hub which has has set up key information and contacts here https://www.wearegrowth.co.uk
  • We are working with local networks and awaiting further guidance to address key sectors and areas such as the self-employed and help available beyond universal credit and income tax / VAT relief

Bristol Travel Sector

  • Effective from 30th March – First West of England will introduce an emergency timetable to apply on Monday to Saturday. This is a reduction in frequencies to all services, mostly to half hourly or hourly frequency. These frequencies could reduce further in the evenings.
  • We are awaiting schedules for full details and will summarise the picture when we receive them.
  • It is envisaged that an emergency timetable for Sundays / Public Holidays will be introduced for Sunday 5 April 2020.
  • The service changes planned for 5 April have been suspended, including the proposed introduction of service 2A.
  • Travelwest is the main source of information for bus service updates – Real Time Information screens are not predicting and are referring passengers to Travelwest for up to date information. Travelwest will be updated as service levels change.
  • Should we have stability of timetable we will review how best to utilise the RTI screens.
  • To be aware – an issue raised recently about handwashing facilities at Bristol bus station has now been resolved.

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