We will update this page with our City Briefing each time a new issue is published. This is to keep everyone updated on coronavirus (COVID-19).
6pm Friday 27 March
At this evening’s Downing Street address, Michael Gove MP confirmed that the rate of infection is now doubling every three to four days. Earlier today it was announced that the Prime Minister has tested positive for COVID-19.
Michael Gove MP also spoke about an increase of testing, especially for front line staff.
The message from Downing Street continued to emphasise the importance of people changing their behaviour to follow guidance that’s designed to prevent the spread of the virus.
Social distancing remains a key action because this slows the opportunities for COVID-19 to be passed from person to person.
The advice is to:
- Stay at home
- Only go outside for food, health reasons or work (where this absolutely cannot be done from home)
- Stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people
- Wash your hands as soon as you get home
Anyone can spread the virus.
Stay home and save lives.
Do not travel to Brighton & Hove
We’ve continued to put out calls asking visitors not to travel to the city this weekend to try to reduce the numbers of people mingling when out and about.
Cllr Platts, leader of the council, shared the request in an interview this morning on BBC Radio Sussex.
The issue has received a range of media coverage.
We have also contacted the London Mayor's Office, GWR and Transport for London asking them to share our messages asking visitors not to come to the city this weekend.
The short video made yesterday of council leader Nancy Platts asking people not to visit the city, has been shared widely on social media, including by Brighton & Hove Albion who retweeted it to their 277,000 followers. The video has been watched on our social media channels more than 8,000 times since it was posted yesterday.
VisitBrighton continues to push the message for people to stay away from Brighton & Hove, while also promoting the city’s attractions and businesses. The team are encouraging people to become a virtual visitor. They have also uploaded Cllr Platt’s video to their COVID-19 information page.
Have a look at their campaign renaming VisitBrighton; DoNotVisitBrighton, which has been promoted to local and national media and shared on social media.
Banners for seafront
More than 50 banners reminding people to follow social distancing rules are being printed. The banners will to go up along the seafront, from the marina to Hove Lagoon, and will be in place early next week.
Please share the banner image to remind people of the importance of staying 2m apart.
Open letter: Call for landlords to work positively with tenants
Councillor Gill Williams, chair of Housing committee, today shared an open letter to the city’s landlords.
Councillor Williams has urged all landlords in the city to work positively with their tenants affected by the impact of COVID-19.
The council's early intervention team are available to support landlords and private sector tenants resolve problems.
Volunteers who signed up to help with food preparation, organisation and delivery have now been given letters identifying them as essential volunteers.
The letters will be accepted as proof of key worker status for any activities they are carrying out on behalf of the council's response to Covid-19.
The process for food distribution has now been organised.
Food and other essential items will be delivered to FareShare, which is the UK's largest charity fighting hunger and food waste.
FareShare will use their usual networks and new suppliers to deliver the food and essential items to a range of sites including:
- production kitchens which are making meals to be distributed, either hot, chilled or frozen
- current food banks choosing to remain open
- a new layer of emergency food distribution centres that can sort food into individual food parcels
The food production kitchens and current food banks will ensure that a person in need gets food to their door or make sure it can be picked up.
The new layer of emergency food distribution centres including a mix of current food banks and new, with work led by the Brighton & Hove Food Partnership. These will deliver food to Community Hubs with the help of Zedify.
The Community Hubs, responsible for the 'last kilometre' of food and essential item delivery, have yet to be finalised.
People who need support will be able to get in contact by either phone or through an online form, which is planned to be in place from early next week.
We are working with Brighton & Hove Food Partnership to bulk buy food and essential items to increase supplies at food banks and hubs.
The Food Partnership is currently fundraising to make this happen. An amazing £17,865 of the current £30,000 target had been raised aat the time of sending this briefing.
If you can, please raise awareness of this crowdfunding effort.
We've updated information on our Waste and Recycling Services webpage. This makes the situation with kerbside recycling clearer. The page also suggests what residents can do with their recycling until this service resumes.
We've also updated our web page about Recycling Points. It now shows which sites have both recycling and the extra waste bins we put out this week, and which sites have recycling bins only. This should make it easier for residents to locate their nearest recycling point where they can discard of rubbish and recycling, or just recycling.
Childcare and education in the city
Today is the end of a week like never seen before by those who are involved with childcare and education.
Last Thursday, the government announced that almost all children should stay at home to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and that education would no longer run as usual from Monday 23 March. For most children and young people, their place of learning is now closed.
At the same time, childminders, nurseries, schools and colleges were suddenly asked to turn into vital providers of childcare for children of critical key workers and also vulnerable children (such as those with a social worker and those with an Education Health and Care Plan).
This doesn’t mean that education stopped for all pupils at home. Schools and colleges are providing excellent learning and resources that children are able to use at home.
To give an idea of the scale of the change involved, we have more than 30,000 pupils registered at schools across the city. At present, about 500 pupils are attending school under the new restrictions. Also, there are usually 4,000 children aged between two and four years old who to go the city’s nurseries and childminders each week. The number has dropped to about 250 children attending nurseries and registered childminders this week.
Much consideration has also been given to providing free school meals to all who are eligible and children are receiving the food they need. We are ready to respond to new government guidance due to be introduced next week on this issue.
These dramatic changes were put in place within hours. We are very grateful to all involved for the flexible and innovative way this has been achieved through so much hard work by so many.
The council’s Families, Children and Learning team has been working closely with providers across the city. We will continue to provide support as we work together to address the challenges of extending the hours of childcare on offer each day and how to cover the Easter holidays.
Royal Pavilion & Museums Trust update
The Royal Pavilion & Museums trustees and council officers have been jointly working on a plan to extend the transition period for the Trust in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. They are proposing to move the transfer date from 1 April to 1 October, provided the conditions are right.
Councillors will have to agree the proposal at a special meeting of the Policy & Resources Committee which is provisionally scheduled to meet next Tuesday, 31 March to consider urgent council business.
Communications have gone out to staff working in the Royal Pavilion & Museums service, and it has been confirmed that if this extension is agreed, they will continue to be employed by the council until the new transfer date.
Both the council and the Trust have been in regular discussions with staff affected by the transfer and trade union colleagues leading up to this point. This will continue in order to enable staff and trade unions to continue contributing to planning for the longer transition period that is now needed.
Support for the self-employed
The government’s Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will support self-employed individuals (including members of business partnerships) who have lost income due COVID-19.
This scheme will allow you to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of your trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the next 3 months. This may be extended if needed.
Claim a grant through the Self-employment Income Support Scheme.
Guidance for care homes
The council's health and adult social care team is to streamline the number of messages being sent out to the service providers we work with. The aim is to avoid swamping people with too much information.
Service providers will now receive a daily email in the late afternoon, normally between 4.30pm and 5pm. This will bring together the latest guidance, advice, and information from the government, public health and the NHS.
In addition, our commissioners will lead on a weekly update containing local information, practical advice and an update on what the council is doing to support providers.
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.