We are edging slowly but surely towards being able to provide the sort of hearty North Yorkshire welcome people expect in our beautiful county – but everything hangs very carefully in the balance and we all hold the key to success – individually and collectively.
As well as being the Chief Executive of the County Council, I chair North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum – the partnership which is tasked with fighting the impacts of Covid-19 in our county, which includes York. I receive daily updates on infection and death rates, consider these with directors of public health, police gold command and our district colleagues. We establish the most effective actions we can collectively take and how we can work with you all to protect people and communities. Sadly, over the past few days the huge collective effort of Team North Yorkshire has been somewhat marred by some really thoughtless and even dangerous behaviour. Speeding on highways, tombstoning into open water, drinking in makeshift beer gardens, gathering in crowds, disregard for social distancing, piles of litter left on verges and scattered through beauty spots.
We are at a very delicate point in our management of Covid-19 in North Yorkshire and York and only you can help us continue to save lives. Without your support, the virus has a fighting chance of a new surge and we could lose more people we love and have to wait even longer to see those we cannot see yet.
Please, please protect yourselves and your children, brothers, sisters, mums, dads, grans and grandads. Stay at least 2 metres apart at all times from anyone you don’t live with. Wash your hands thoroughly and regularly with soap and warm water or, if that’s not possible, use hand sanitiser. Avoid crowds and think ahead to limit the spread. Please take your litter home. What we do now will dictate what happens next in this pandemic and you have worked so hard. Thank you for your support.
124 of our primary schools have now increased their pupil capacity and that expansion of education services will continue through other schools over the coming days as they implement the risk assessment action plans needed to keep staff and pupils safe. Early indications are that for those pupils who are returning this is a positive experience and many will be delighted to see their friends and teachers again. Plans are well underway, too, to expand secondary school provision from mid-June. Schools have bespoke plans and they will be in touch with parents directly. However, there is good information available here, including how to book school transport given social distancing https://www.northyorks.gov.uk/schools-and-childrens-services-during-coronavirus-covid-19
Our support for Care Homes continues to pay dividends and new infection rates are reducing. Our efforts to secure reliable and consistent access to swabs to facilitate faster testing, continue. And we very much hope to see a resolution to the delays which put pressure on these settings which are home to many of our most vulnerable residents and no doubt many of your loved ones.
Testing remains key in the fight against this virus and this week has seen the expansion of the Government’s test and trace scheme. This approach relies on people with symptoms getting tests so that anyone who may also have been infected can be found and asked to take a test. If the outbreak is in a particular setting, this approach can very effectively facilitate a mini lockdown to control the spread of Covid-19 and track it down; closing off its prospects of wider infection. If we get this right, together we will lead the charge out of this in much better shape for the future. Information on how to book a test is available here along with details of the current mobile testing units which have good capacity and are spread across the county https://www.northyorks.gov.uk/coronavirus-covid-19-test-sites-north-yorkshire
With retail premises reopening, we are also working, at a very local level, to put in mitigation, where that is possible and appropriate, to help facilitate social distancing in shopping areas. It’s important to say that some streets and pavements may not lend themselves to a really managed approach and so you will need to be very aware of your own personal space to ensure you take the necessary steps to protect yourselves. I am sure the prospect of being able to visit shops again is very welcome to many of you. Social distancing changes on the highway can be found here https://www.northyorks.gov.uk/social-distancing-measures
On the subject of shopping, a real positive from all of this is the success of Buy Local – more and more people are supporting their local stores and shops during this difficult time. The website we set up has more than 600 businesses and traders now registered – providing residents and other businesses with a terrific go-to place for everything from food to electrical repairs. We very much hope that the ethos of buying local quality goods will continue in the future.
Before I go, I would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to read and share our Covid-19 bulletins. From this week, they will be reduce to one per week. Generally, we will issue them on a Wednesday afternoon but we will increase the number and/or change the issue day as appropriate if there are important things to be said.
Stay safe in North Yorkshire everyone.
Current World Health Organisation data shows that we have now passed 6.1 million confirmed cases globally, with over 373 thousand deaths across 216 countries, areas or territories.
At a national level, yesterday’s (01/06) Public Health England data show there were 276,332 lab-confirmed cases in the UK, with 39,045 COVID-associated deaths. The national number of deaths now includes deaths of people who had tested positive under the Pillar 2 route (e.g. community testing), which has added to the total since the previous bulletin. To date, there have been 1,304 confirmed cases of COVID-19 across North Yorkshire.
The number of people currently in hospital with COVID-19 continues to decrease slowly. Sadly, there have been 610 deaths from COVID-19 across Airedale, Harrogate, South Tees and York NHS Trusts to date, of whom an estimated 236 will be North Yorkshire residents.
We are continuing to develop our local COVID-19 outbreak control plan to work alongside the NHS Test and Trace programme. We also continue to support schools as they start to reopen across the county.
In light of the recent good weather and change in lockdown rules I would like to remind everyone that the need to maintain social distancing with people outside of your own household and wash your hands regularly still remains. Although the number of new cases of COVID-19 in North Yorkshire has decreased the risk has not gone away – I am very grateful for everyone’s efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19 so far, and these measures remain as important now as they ever have been.
As part of the national testing programme for coronavirus, drive-through Mobile Testing Units, run by the Department for Health and Social care, will be operating in the following locations over the coming days between 11am and 3pm:
• 3 June – Scarborough – Scarborough Park and Ride, Seamer Road, Scarborough, YO12 4LW
• 3 June – Harrogate – Hydro Leisure Centre, Jenny Field Drive, Harrogate, HG1 2RP
• 4 June – Leyburn – Tennants Auctioneers Car Park, Harmby Road, Leyburn, DL8 5SG
• 4 June – Northallerton – Civic Centre, Stonecross, Northallerton, DL6 2UU
Before you attend you must book a test. There are two ways to do this depending on which testing group you are part of. Tests can be booked from 8pm the night before.
Anyone in the country who is showing coronavirus symptoms can register at http://www.nhs.uk/coronavirus
People who don’t have access to the internet, or who have difficulty with the digital portals, can ring the new 119 service to book their test.
Essential workers and members of their household can register at: www.gov.uk/apply-coronavirus-test-essential-workers
You can see the full list of essential workers at: www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-getting-tested
Opening of schools
By the end of next week at least half of all North Yorkshire’s primary schools will have reopened. A total of 124 primary schools are reopening this week, with 24 to reopen next week. We are currently working with all remaining primary schools to confirm opening dates.
Schools which have confirmed their opening dates can be found here; https://www.northyorks.gov.uk/schools-and-childrens-services-during-coronavirus-covid-19
Primaries which have opened their doors this week to key year groups have completed risk assessments and adapted school sites and their daily routines to keep children’s health and wellbeing at the forefront.
They include Easingwold Primary School, which reopened yesterday.
Rigorous planning and creative ideas on how to keep students both happy and safe meant their first day back ran as smoothly as possible, according to acting head, Alison Cottrell.
Alison said in order to ensure the school is a safe, welcoming environment for children to be, she created action plans and put together Q&A leaflets for both parents and children so they know what to expect.
She said: “I wanted to answer as many questions as possible for parents and for children so they weren’t coming in blind.
“The one for children made it clear the school is still here for them, it had pictures of our students from key worker families completing hand washing protocol and showed things like the painted markings on the playground which children can use safely.
“We’ve planned the entire day, from using separate entrances and exits to cleaning throughout and having two adults in every classroom to ensure that happens.”
Alison added they have eased back into learning in a supportive, light way.
She said: “The first week of learning will be very light – we don’t want to go rushing straight back in. We are starting by touching up on key skills like mental maths, timetables, handwriting, to ease students back in.
“We have a big focus on practical things so children can work independently in a socially distant and safe way and also a large focus on PHSCE to enable children to talk about their experiences.”
Alison added they’ve put together creative packs for younger children to ensure they don’t miss out on anything, too.
She added: “Yesterday (Monday) went really smoothly, children were so excited – but everyone stuck to the rules and everyone did their absolute best. It’s a step towards normality.”
Five initial sets of PPE have been distributed to the majority of schools to ensure they have supplies in place as they begin wider re-opening. Schools which have not received or collected their initial PPE, can collect them from their local district hub. Further supplies can be ordered from suppliers YPO. We have produced a 30 minute, online training session on PPE which can be accessed by school staff via; https://breeze.northyorks.gov.uk/pe1ash2qrdfe/
We remain at a critical stage in the management of the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on the care sector as we continue to see infections and deaths. Our care market resilience plan, which was sent to the Department for Health and Social Care last week, is now published on our website: www.northyorks.gov.uk/news/article/north-yorkshire-covid-19-care-market-resilience We have been ahead in implementing this plan for some weeks, working at speed with the care sector and with individual homes to take the necessary action to support residents and to halt any further spread of the virus.
As part of this approach, we have received North Yorkshire’s share of the national £600m infection control fund – £8.4m – based on this strong monitoring and control partnership between ourselves and the care sector. 75% of this sum will go out to care homes in two waves. The first wave (c£3m) going out in the next few days and we’ve written to providers over the weekend. The remaining 25% is allocated at our discretion and we are currently working through the options.
Next week is Carers Week and a chance to celebrate and give thanks for the work and commitment and love of the 60,000 people across North Yorkshire – one in ten of us – who are carers for family members or friends. It’s a chance to acknowledge what carers do and that, during the Covid-19 pandemic, many are providing more care than they have ever done before. The carers resource organisations we fund to support carers across the county, are running a number of great events next week including a selfie and words campaign where carers and the people who support them have sent in selfies with words for publication which describe the strengths all carers have.
Adult and young carers are also being been encouraged to send in stories and poems which express their experiences as carers. In Harrogate and Craven, where the carer’s resource centre had planned a 25k walk to celebrate its 25th anniversary, staff and carers are being encouraged to join in and do this virtually as part of their daily exercise.
As well as these existing services provided by carers resource charities, we have partnered with 23 community support organisations across the county to coordinate help on the ground with shopping, collecting prescriptions, caring for pets and having someone to talk to.
This help continues through our one point of contact – our customer service centre on 01609 780780 – open seven days a week from 8am to 5.30pm for people, who are without other help, to call. Carers can also ring this number if they have any questions about the wellbeing of the person they are looking after and any other care they are receiving. More information can be found at https://www.northyorks.gov.uk/coronavirus-covid-19-community-support
We have also provided an advice pack for carers with links to partner organisations and advice on use of personal protective equipment.
Support available for carers – video link: https://youtu.be/umPwH_hYhPQ
Throughout the pandemic, our key workers across the county have pulled together to forge a front line fight against the virus. Janet Ramwell, Vicky Guy and Danusia Wenhryniuk in Craven are no exception.
The trio would normally share an office in Settle meaning they were just a conversation away from sharing any problems or troubles they had.
But, working in the pandemic has changed this, meaning they have to support each other in different ways through different kinds of challenges.
Vicky, a Social Care Assessor, said: “Before the pandemic, we wouldn’t be doing as much hands on work within the community but we are now.
“For us, it’s all about working together to plug gaps. We don’t want anyone to slip through the cracks.
“We are still doing our standard day-to-day job, but in all that, we are trying to keep people out of hospital as that has been a focus in the pandemic.
“We’ve had to be creative and provide hands-on care ourselves at times.
Danusia, also a Social Care Assessor, added: “It has been quite a change. Very occasionally we would do hands-on work, but all the things like shopping and delivering prescriptions – we are doing that now.
“New guidance and paperwork comes out all the time, and we’ve had to take that on and work through it remotely without the support of each other physically.”
Vicky added: “We’ve always had that feeling of helping each other; it’s just more IT based now.”
For the team, one of the most important things is people in the community knowing they are there to help.
Janet, a Social Care Co-ordinator, said: “Everyone knows our faces and our numbers and hopefully can now call on us if they need to.”
1-7 June is volunteers’ week; this is the national event recognising the contribution made by the millions of people who volunteer in the UK. Volunteers in North Yorkshire have been helping thousands of people, who are isolating across the county, every week during the COVID-19 pandemic with shopping, collecting prescriptions or just by being there for a chat. There are also many examples of neighbours looking out for each other and an army of volunteers who have formed groups where they live. During volunteers’ week, we will be celebrating the selfless acts of kindness that have made a huge difference to people.
John Walker would normally be out and about volunteering with our countryside service. Instead, he’s helping with the Bedale COVID-19 Mutual Aid Group as part of the helpline team. John said: “Beyond the many tragedies that coronavirus has brought, it has been heart-warming to see communities come together to help each other locally. I think everyone’s lives have changed forever and our world has changed completely. It’s shown us how much we need to work together.”
Pete Stentiford owns the Witching Post pub at Egton. Since lockdown started Pete has been volunteering with Coast and Vale Community Action. When he saw how one resident was struggling with their garden, Pete contacted Jack Reeves at TNC Landscapes who volunteered to help. Pete said: “I deliver to this lady who is quite poorly. I said I have a couple of friends that can come and she was really pleased. It looked much nicer when we finished and it was definitely a team effort.”
Jo Laking from Coast and Vale Community Action added: “Pete really does go the extra mile and he’s just brilliant. He’s been helping us and doing other things in the community where he lives. I think the generosity of the volunteers is just overwhelming. They’re not just doing shopping or collecting a prescription, they’re taking the time to talk to people and offering that extra bit of support. Lockdown has not been a pleasant experience but I think it’s really brought out the best in people.”
For North Yorkshire residents who are being shielded and need help getting food and medication, the County Council will continue to offer support. Despite some changes to lockdown restrictions, anyone at higher risk from coronavirus remains vulnerable and should still stay at home as much as possible.
Although people who are being shielded are now able to go outside once a day for fresh air and exercise, Government advice for anyone in this group is not to go shopping, attend gatherings or visit other people’s homes. Maintaining strict social distancing at this delicate stage in the COVID-19 pandemic is critical, especially for people who are at higher risk. That also includes people with underlying health conditions, including heart disease and diabetes, anyone over the age of 70 and women who are pregnant.
Community support organisations (CSOs) and the partners they are working alongside continue to help people in their communities while they are isolating. Those who need help with shopping, prescriptions and other essentials but don’t have anyone to call on, or anyone concerned about the welfare of someone else, can contact North Yorkshire County Council’s customer service centre on 01609 780780. The centre is open seven days a week 8am to 5.30pm.
For more information, including links to the main supermarkets for people who can shop safely for themselves, and a link to the Buy Local site, go to www.northyorks.gov.uk/help-you-during-coronavirus-covid-19
LEP News: Self-Employment Support Scheme extended
The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme is being extended to August.
Those eligible under the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will be able to claim a second and final grant in August. The grant will be worth 70% of average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering three months’ worth of profits, and capped at £6,570 in total. Full details of the announcement can be found here – https://bit.ly/CJRS_SEISSUpdate .
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme extension details confirmed
Last Friday, further details were released on the extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). A new factsheet for this scheme can be found here
The 3 main changes to the scheme are:
From 1 July 2020, the scheme will be made more flexible to enable employers to bring previously furloughed employees back part time and still receive a grant for the time when they are not working.
From 1 August 2020, employers will have to start contributing to the wage costs of paying their furloughed staff and this employer contribution will gradually increase in September and October.
• In August, the government will continue to pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 but employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions – for the average claim, this represents 5% of the gross employment costs that they would have incurred if the employee had not been furloughed
• In September, the government will pay 70% of wages up to a cap of £2,187.50 for the hours the employee does not work – employers will pay ER NICs, pension contributions and 10% of wages to make up 80% of the total up to a cap of £2,500
• In October, the government will pay 60% of wages up to a cap of £1,875 for the hours the employee does not work – employers will pay ER NICs, pension contributions and 20% of wages to make up 80% of the total up to a cap of £2,500
The scheme will close to new entrants from 30 June.
Government to publish code of practice with commercial sector in boost to high street
High street businesses and landlords are set to benefit from a new code of practice, which is in development to provide them with clarity and reassurance over rent payments.
A working group has been established by the government with the commercial rental sector to develop a code which encourages fair and transparent discussions between landlords and tenants over rental payments during the coronavirus pandemic and guidance on rent arrear payments and treatment of sub-letter and suppliers. This will enable collaboration and cooperation within the sector and help ensure no one part of the chain shoulders the full burden of payment.
For more details, visit Government to publish code of practice with commercial sector in boost to high street
York & North Yorkshire Growth Hub launch new SME support programme
To help businesses recover and build resilience, the York & North Yorkshire Growth Hub has launched it’s free ‘From Adversity to Recovery’ mentorship programme designed to support SMEs who would benefit from free mentorship to help them build back from adversity and have a critical friend to help to move their business forward with resilience built in.
Businesses will also receive a range of relevant resources to appraise their business, plan for the future and support any application for finance. These will include:
• business plan template
• bank-ready cash flow forecast
• personal survival budget planner
To find out more and to apply, visit: https://www.ynygrowthhub.com/resources/covid-19-support-programme-from-adversity-to-recovery/
Celebrating Volunteers Week 2020
Covid-19 has turned our world upside down, making volunteers in our communities key workers.
To celebrate Volunteers Week 2020 which runs from 1-7th June, we thank all volunteers for keeping our communities going and, sharing her experience, is Leah Furniss, Development Officer at Community First Yorkshire and Volunteer for the Two Ridings Community Foundation. Please read her blog: https://www.businessinspiredgrowth.com/news/is-volunteering-selfish/
As always, we are keen to promote the following as main sources of business support information:
• GOVERNMENT: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus/business-support
• Y&NY LEP: https://www.businessinspiredgrowth.com/covid-19/
• Y&NY GROWTH HUB: https://www.ynygrowthhub.com/how-we-can-help/coronavirus/
NYCC’s website has a dedicated area for all the latest COVID-19 related news visit: https://www.northyorks.gov.uk/coronavirus-advice-and-information
Follow us on social media: @northyorkscc on Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.
Have a read: Great North Yorkshire Sons and Daughters – Bridget Talbot
Great North Yorkshire Sons and Daughters is a North Yorkshire County Council project to highlight and celebrate figures from the past who were immensely influential within the county. It draws on County Record Office archives and the work of local history groups.
The latest nominee is Miss Bridget Elizabeth Talbot, the last owner of Kiplin Hall, near Scorton. She spent her life channelling her energy, innovative mind-set and influence into addressing injustices.
Read more about Miss Bridget Talbot and Made in North Yorkshire at: www.northyorks.gov.uk/made-in-north-yorkshire
Host a games night
Organising a games night is a sure-fire way to keep the whole family or your friendship group entertained this weekend. Here’s a few tips…
• Play a good old game of charades
• Assign someone the ‘happy hour host’ and ask them to give a live cocktail/ cooking master class
• Get one person to mute themselves and mime phrases and see who can read their lips the best
• Ask guests to submit a surprising fact about themselves beforehand and see who can guess which fact correlates to which person on the Zoom
• Play a good old game of Bingo. Ask everyone to mock up their own Bingo card based on a Google template and use this number generator to kick things off.
Enjoy the fresh air with some gardening
With all the amazing weather we have had recently, why not turn your hand to gardening? Many recent studies have shown the benefits of gardening for our mental health, especially during lockdown where many of us are isolated from friends and family. Visit https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/health-and-wellbeing for more information and tips on gardening.
Cook up a storm at home
Many of our favourite restaurants are unfortunately closed, if you’re bored of eating the same things and need some inspiration visit https://tasty.co for amazing recipes and ideas.
Go to the aquarium
Although they’re closed to the public, Monterey Bay Aquarium has added a number of live cams to let you keep an eye on the jellyfish, kelp forest, coral reef, and even the penguins, completely free: https://www.montereybayaquarium.org/animals/live-cams
The P.M. is holding daily press conferences; the highlights from the latest one can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus