Information from the Chief Executive of Herefordshire Council

As of the 13th May there have been 81 deaths with confirmed or suspected Covid 19 in Herefordshire- 48 in Hospitals, 28 in care homes, 2 in the hospice and 3 at home. Over half of these were people over 80 and 7% were under 60. This is still a much lower rate than nationally.

Key public messages:

- Please make positive and sensible choices and be responsible citizens, by doing this you will save lives, protect the NHS and keep yourself and your family safe.

- Please stay home whenever you can.

- Please take personal responsibility and take sensible steps to maintain social distancing if you do need to go out.

- Please don’t visit other people’s houses. You are able to spend time with one other person from outside your house hold as long as it is in a public open space, you maintain social distancing and it is only one-to-one.

- Being outdoors reduces the risk of infection, but it doesn’t eradicate it. Please maintain social distancing.

- We are fortunate to have some beautiful places within our counties, and many people will be glad they now have the option to make the most of them over the coming weeks. If you travel somewhere and it’s busy, please be sensible and go elsewhere or return at a different time. Keep in mind the purpose of the regulations and the ongoing national effort to protect the NHS and save lives.

- There is different legislation and guidance in place in Wales, please respect it.

- Please continue to keep washing your hands. This is a vital part of reducing the risk of infection.

- If you are displaying symptoms of coronavirus, it is vital that you self-isolate for seven days. If someone you live with is feeling unwell or displaying symptoms, please self-isolate for 14 days.

- Some people might not display symptoms so social distancing and hand washing remains vital. You can wear a face covering when out, to protect other people when you may be asymptomatic

Facilities such as garden centres, golf clubs, tennis clubs, and waste and recycling centres are now starting to reopen. Please follow the social distancing instructions and directions regarding entry and queuing, be aware that they might be busy, and try to avoid peak times.

- Hereford and Leominster waste and recycling centres are open for essential waste that can’t be stored safely. Please only visit if it is absolutely necessary and be prepared for queues.

- After a weekend opening of the Leominster and Rotherwas Household Recycling Centres, staff ensured that the queues on the weekend were managed with no incidents arising. The sites have remained open 8am – 6pm Monday to Friday since and there have been no reported issues, other than a few members of public bringing in non-essential waste and a cyclist who had put himself and others at risk by not following government guidance on social distancing and PPE. Queues in the mornings awaiting opening time have been no more than 5 to 6 daily.

- A number of  street and layby traders will start to operate from Monday 18th May, there will be a gradual reintroduction of traders over the next few weeks. The service will work with all street traders to ensure appropriate measures and signs are in place to reinforce the requirement to maintain social distancing. Street markets, remain suspended pending a further review.

- West Mercia Police will continue to engage with the public, explaining and encouraging people in relation to the guidance and social distancing, and we will only take enforcement action where it is absolutely necessary – when there are clear breaches of the restrictions, predominantly people gathering in large groups.

- Please be responsible and continue to work with us.  We all still find ourselves in very challenging circumstances and we appreciate that the public has responded so positively to the extraordinary restrictions placed upon them. Remember that if you need our help we are here for you.

The NHS is still available and services continue. Please do not delay in seeking medical attention, should you need it. If you are self-isolating and don’t have support, contact Talk Community on 01432 260027 or via the council website.

The Covid-19 mobile testing unit is still available in Hereford for those in the following groups:
You can apply for a test if you are:

* an essential worker with coronavirus symptoms

* aged 65 or over with coronavirus symptoms

* someone who cannot work from home and has coronavirus symptoms (for example, construction workers or delivery drivers)

* Please book on the national website

– Care homes – work continues to support all 89 care homes in Herefordshire with more intensive support being provided to those homes with Covid-19 present. These homes are in the minority and in line with neighbouring authorities and it should be noted that the presence of Covid-19 not an indicator that the home is not well run

– Testing, tracking and tracing – preparing local plans to support the national Track and Trace programme

– PPE – will remain a key focus. Supply is currently meeting system demands.

– Schools and education settings – planning for any wider re-opening of early years settings, schools and colleges. Development of approaches to health and safety, employment considerations, transport, supply chains, PPE, curriculum delivery, practicalities within buildings.

– Finance – The council has submitted the  returns requested by  Ministry of Homes, Communities and Local Government  outlining the impact of dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic

The roadmap  Step 1: From Wednesday 13 May

* Self-isolation – Shielding programme will continue, People who are clinically vulnerable such as those aged 70 or over, anyone who has symptoms however mild, or is in a household where someone has symptoms, should not leave their home.

* Limit social contact – Everyone, especially those who are clinically vulnerable, are encouraged to limit their contact with people outside their household as much as possible

* Work – Workers should continue to work from home wherever possible. Those who cannot work from home should travel to work if their workplace is open. All workplaces required to make changes to operate safely. Sectors of the economy allowed to be open include food production, construction, manufacturing, logistics, distribution and scientific research in laboratories. Workplaces such as hospitality and non-essential retail to remain closed.

* Public spaces – people can spend unlimited time outdoors, not meeting up with more than one person from outside their household, social distancing and good hand hygiene encouraged. People may drive to outdoor spaces irrespective of distance (England). Playgrounds, outdoor gyms or outdoor leisure venues, where there is a higher risk of close contact and touching surfaces, will not be open.

* Schools – Vulnerable children and the children of critical workers, are encouraged to attend school.

* Travel – avoid public transport as much as possible.

* Face coverings (not same as surgical face mask) – Gov’t advising that people should wear a face covering in enclosed spaces where social distancing not possible to help reduce the risk of transmission. Face-coverings are intended to protect against inadvertent transmission of the disease to others if you have it asymptomatically.

Step 2: No earlier than Monday 1 June, and subject to five tests and alert level

* Social / family contact – people can consider safely expanding their household group to include one other household (e.g. grandparents) (“bubbles”) – this must be separate and not create a chain.

* Work – Non-essential retail open when it is safe to do so following COVID-19 Secure guidelines. Hospitality and personal care not to reopen.

* Schools – Phased return for early years settings and schools – Yr R, Yr 1 and Yr 6, smaller sizes of classes, Yr 10 and Yr 12. Aim is for all primary school aged children to return before summer holidays for a month.

* ravel – reopening more local public transport

Step 3: No earlier than 4 July, and subject to five tests and scientific advice

Ambition to open at least some of remaining businesses and premises, including personal care (such as hairdressers), hospitality (like pubs and accommodation), places of worship and leisure facilities (like gyms and cinemas) – must meet COVID-19 Secure guidelines

General advice to minimise spread outside your home

- Keep a 2m distance from people outside your household

- Keep your hands and face as clean as possible

- Work from home if you can

- Avoid being face to face with people

- Reduce the number of people you spend time with- fewer contacts means lower risk

- Avoid crowds

- If you have to use public transport – think about how and when you travel

- Disinfect surfaces regularly

- Clothes should be washed regularly

 -Virus less likely to be transmitted in outdoor / well-ventilated areas

- Wear a face covering in enclosed spaces where social distancing isn’t possible

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