What is the public health response? All government response and guidance across many sectors can be accessed from the government at www.gov.uk/coronavirus and all health-related information and advice can be accessed on the NHS website: www.nhs.uk/coronavirus
Local communications and updates are being channelled through a single point of entry with Durham County Council (DCC) at www.durham.gov.uk/coronavirus It is important to use this link as all elements of coronavirus response are continually updated and will provide the public with the most up-to-date information that is available.
Government guidance for workers and businesses For information about support for businesses and employees, visit www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid- 19/covid-19-support-for-businesses For information about the support available for the self-employed, visit www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-coronavirus-covid-19-self-employmentincome-support-scheme What can you do to protect yourself and others? The most effective way of protecting yourself and others from coronavirus is to practice good hand hygiene. Washing your hands regularly and thoroughly with soap and water throughout the day and try not to touch your face with your hands. Please follow the government’s advice to: • Stay at home • Only go outside for food, health reasons, essential work or for exercise (once per day only) • Stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people • Wash your hands as soon as you get home It is understandable the impact this could have on residents’ mental wellbeing and the County Council are increasing support and advice in relation to personal wellbeing and mental health. This includes businesses and individuals with financial worries, with information about the mental health support available here: https://businessdurham.co.uk/news-events-county-durham/covid-19-information
What is Durham County Council doing? Below is a summary of the key steps DCC have recently taken: They have set up a helpline, webpage and support network to help people in County Durham who are struggling during the Coronavirus pandemic. County Durham Together is a virtual support hub for those self-isolating. It can help with a range of requests including food supplies, deliveries, general help and guidance, as well as access to someone who can listen and support. Over last weekend, the team engaged with 300 vulnerable people and DCC continue to raise awareness of the scheme through their communication channels. Anyone in need of extra support can fill in a form on www.durham.gov.uk/covid19help Alternatively, help can be accessed by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 03000 260 260. Other steps taken by the DCC include: • Arranging to pay suppliers immediately rather than wait the standard 30 days, including care home providers • Suspending debt recovery action on business rates • Offering three-month rent deferrals for tenants in Business Durham's commercial properties • Virtual employability sessions are also being offered to job seekers • Grants to help cover the cost of home working technology through the Digital Drive County Durham programme. • Visit County Durham membership fees have been waived. • Business Durham is providing guidance and disseminating information as soon it received through all of its communications channels.
• Most schools in County Durham remain open to care for the children of key workers and DCC are looking at ways they can continue to provide childcare over the Easter holidays. Schools continue to provide free meals to eligible pupils, both as a hot or cold meal in school for those still attending, or as a food parcel.
• Continuing to pay for home to school transport for those who need it. • The Housing Solutions team have continued to carry out daily checks on people identified as sleeping rough in the county and they are working with accommodation providers to secure suitable housing. This includes securing emergency places for those needing to self-isolate.
• Refuse and recycling bins continue to be emptied. Bulky waste collections were suspended on Friday to allow staff who work on them to support refuse and recycling. DCC are also utilising spare vehicles to limit the number of crew members in a cab. Staff are also being given hand sanitisers and crew members are also required to wear gloves - to protect both residents and employees.
• Garden Waste Collections have been delayed (to support rubbish and recycling collections), until Tuesday 28 April. Residents will still receive all 17 collections as part of their subscription and DCC are contacting all customers to let them know of the changes. • Environmental health, such as emptying of dog and litter bins, clearing fly-tipping and needle disposal, remains a priority. Grass cutting is continuing, with crews prioritising the parks and recreations grounds where people can do their once daily exercise and cemeteries. Weed spraying can also continue as staff wear protective gear. All teams have stopped travelling in groups and are ensuring they comply with social distancing guidance while working. • Neighbourhood wardens are also prioritising health and safety and environmental health matters, such as dealing with stray dogs, loose horses and fly-tipping. Wardens will comply with social distancing guidance while working. • Closed all the park and ride services in Durham City, as social distancing measures has caused demand to fall. DCC continue to offer free parking for key workers at all council car parks, both off and on street, and have made the car park at County Hall available to hospital staff should they need it. • Durham Bus Station is closed with all buses using street stops to avoid people having to wait in an enclosed space. Other bus stations are currently being reviewed. • Some registry ceremonial services, such as weddings, civil partnerships and non-statutory celebrations, have been suspended in line with Government advice. Funeral services will continue to be held but attendance will be limited to 15 people, and a free webcast will be available to download of services the following day for those who are unable to attend. •Pest control services will also be reduced and will only be accepting bookings relating to treatment of rats, mice, bed bugs, cockroaches and fleas. This will be kept under review in line with current government advice and will be monitored on a weekly basis • Events scheduled to take place up to the end of June have been cancelled, including Seaham Food Festival.