This week looks set to be one of something of a roller-coaster of emotions. Many of us have adapted to the ‘new norm’ of living within the rules of lockdown to make the best of things and to help others self-isolating or otherwise in need. This coming Bank Holiday weekend we anticipate the Government’s official detail of how it plans to lift the lockdown. I am sure that lots of people will feel some anxiety about this and it will take time and continued considerable effort for us all to get through this next phase together. But I have every faith we will do that and – as Team North Yorkshire is already proving – we will do best by working together to navigate whatever the future holds on this. Then there is the reflection we will feel and the huge sense of gratitude for the sacrifices of the many men and women from North Yorkshire and the nation, who delivered us freedom on V.E. Day – 75 years ago on Friday. While we will be marking this commemoration without the planned parties with friends and neighbours– we will remember and pay tribute in many other ways and on Friday I hope to bring you our virtual choir – that will certainly be a first for me although I shall spare you my singing!
It’s sometimes easy to lose sight of the fact that while the ‘new norm’ sees most of us working and living in more remote and socially distanced environments – for many essential frontline staff that is not a possibility. They must protect many of our most vulnerable residents and themselves by wearing appropriate personal protective equipment and continue to deliver the care and support people need. You will be aware of the particular vulnerabilities in the care environment – of which there are 250 providers in North Yorkshire. We have been working closely with the sector from the outset of Covid-19 focussing on those with cases. We are stepping this work up with a new Care Home Resilience Service. Running 7 days a week we are working with each venue every day, to help them manage any issues or offer support and guidance. This very detailed intervention work is already helping to manage the impact of the virus in these venues and having a positive impact on the lives of residents and the fantastic staff working in them.
These are extremely testing times – and I mean this in more ways than one. This week has seen a big uplift in the Covid-19 testing offer to staff – like those I have just mentioned – and to all those people delivering services, stacking shelves, delivering parcels and keeping the county safe. There have been a number of days where we have had 4 military-operated mobile essential worker testing units in the county. Visiting Scarborough, Whitby, Richmond, Northallerton, Skipton, Settle, Harrogate and even Flamingo Land – more than 4,100 tests have already been carried out at these mobile sites. That’s in addition to the 5,500 tests completed at the regional centre near York which serves the county. These tests are critical both now and, looking ahead, in us being able to safely get these key staff back to work – where we need them – helping to keep the county fed and well. The County Council is, with other agencies, offering a great deal of support to coordinate this effort. Information on who qualifies and how to book a test can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
Touching on key workers – another of our frontline services is about to relaunch – albeit in a suitably managed and staged way. From tomorrow 10 of our Household Waste Recycling Centres will reopen. This has entailed many detailed considerations around the safety of our staff and the public as well as managing potential queues and the inevitable safety implications and impact on the highways. You will understand there must be strict rules in place around these so that we comply with national guidance while we try to offer the public an opportunity to safely dispose of essential household waste which cannot be stored at home. Before you visit any of our sites I would ask that you read the information on our website carefully and that you are patient while we roll this new approach out https://www.northyorks.gov.uk/changes-our-services-during-coronavirus-covid-19
Thank you for your continued support and as always, stay well and stay safe.
World Health Organisation data shows that there have been 3,489,053 confirmed cases globally, with 241,559 deaths across 215 countries, areas or territories. At a national level, Public Health England data shows there were 171,253 cases in the UK on 30th April, with 28,734 COVID-associated deaths. The UK has the fourth highest number of cases and third highest number of deaths (behind USA and Italy).
We currently have 1,024 confirmed cases of COVID-19 across North Yorkshire. For the most part this has focused on hospital cases although there continues to be an increase in the amount of testing that is carried out in our communities, particularly around key workers and care homes, through Regional Test Centres and Mobile Test Units.
Sadly, there have been 458 COVID-19 deaths in hospital trusts covering North Yorkshire (Airedale, Harrogate, South Tees, York) to date (04/05). Of these, an estimated 174 deaths will be of North Yorkshire residents. Overall, the number of COVID patients in hospital continues to plateau – this plateau is currently sitting at about 80% of the peak number of cases we had in mid-April, which emphasises that the decline is very gradual.
NHS ‘OPEN FOR BUSINESS’ CAMPAIGN
If you need medical help, the NHS is still here for you. You can receive medical help from your GP practice by contacting them either online, by an app or by phone to be assessed.
Always attend your appointments unless you are told otherwise. Remember if you do need urgent medical help you can use the NHS 111 online service, if you cannot get help online, call 111. If it’s a serious or life-threatening emergency, call 999.
We’ll give you the care you need. www.nhs.uk
While we are still very much responding to the many challenges of Covid-19 and its impact on the county we are also planning for when we will be able to return to some new kind of business as usual in the future.
Tomorrow, in response to government guidance, half of North Yorkshire’s household waste recycling centres (HWRCs) will reopen (Wednesday, 6 May).
This first phase of the reopening of the service, under strict controls to keep the public and staff safe, follows national guidance that disposing of waste that could cause a health hazard if stored at home could be seen as essential travel.
All 20 of our HWRCs closed temporarily in March in response to Government restrictions to protect the public during the pandemic. Now, arrangements have been made to reopen ten of them. For safety reasons, not all sites can be opened at this time because of their size, layout and proximity to roads, but this will be reviewed continually.
Residents are being urged go to a HWRC only if they are struggling to store waste at home and to continue to minimise waste and, where possible, use their kerbside collection services.
The household waste recycling centres to reopen are:
• Catterick Bridge, Gatherley Road, Catterick Bridge, DL10 7JD
• Leeming Bar, Tutin Road, Leeming Bar Industrial Estate, Leeming Bar, DL7 9UJ
• Seamer Carr, Dunslow Road, Eastfield, YO12 4QA
• Selby, Canal Road, Selby, YO8 8AG
• Skipton, Harrogate Road, Skipton, BD23 6AB
• Sowerby, Ox Moor Plantation Lane, Sowerby, Thirsk, YO7 1FA
• Stokesley, 8 Ellerbeck Court, Stokesley Business Park, Stokesley, TS9 5PT (the existing permit system remains in place)
• Thornton le Dale, Outgang Lane, Thornton le Dale, YO18 7QP
• West Harrogate, Penny Pot Lane, Harrogate, HG3 2SN
• Whitby, Discovery Way, Whitby Industrial Estate, Whitby, YO22 4PZ
These centres will be open seven days a week (including Wednesdays, when HWRCs are usually closed, and bank holidays) and opening hours will be 8.30am to 5pm.
A queuing system will manage vehicles entering the sites to protect staff and residents and social distancing must be observed. Full details can be found at www.northyorks.gov.uk/CovidHWRC
Stepping up support for the care sector
We are stepping up our support for the 250 care homes and extra care housing schemes across the County as they find themselves in the frontline of fighting Covid-19.
From day one, we have been providing practical support to care providers, including help with staffing and HR, help with safe hospital discharges, advice on infection control and a dedicated email address for advice and support: SocialServices.Contractingunit@northyorks.gov.uk
These measures have been open to all care providers but have, inevitably, been focused on the care homes and extra care housing schemes which have outbreaks. Now, we are shifting to a broader approach aimed at prevention of outbreaks and keeping homes Covid-free as well as responding to outbreaks. This will be a big challenge – especially without a national system of widespread, preventative testing in care homes and contact-tracing, but we are determined to do all we can to help and support.
We are working in close partnership with the Independent Care Group (ICG), which represents most care providers in North Yorkshire, and NHS colleagues, as well as Public Health England (PHE), which is leading nationally on Covid-19, and the Care Quality Commission (CQC), which is the regulator for care providers.
Our priorities are:
• Keeping people safe and well both people using services and the workforce
• Preventing and reducing deaths, where possible
• Preventing, containing and managing outbreaks
• Providing safe services to people who do not have Covid-19
• Shielding Covid-free settings shielded so that they remain Covid-free
From tomorrow – Wednesday 6 May – the additional measures include:
• A daily call, 7 days a week, from a named care home contact officer
• Support from a care home liaison officer for all those homes experiencing problems
• Additional practical help and support on HR, staffing and recruitment, reducing agency usage if possible, infection control, zoning of care homes, cohorting of staff and residents, safe hospital discharge, clinical advice, registered manager support and more
An unprecedented amount of work has been undertaken over the last week and additional staff redeployed and trained to carry out this vital supporting role for the care sector during the current crisis.
This work also accelerates what we expect may be requested by Government in coming days as part of a national response to Covid-19 within care homes.
Supporting the most vulnerable
North Yorkshire residents who are particularly vulnerable to being hospitalised as a result of Covid-19 received a welfare check at home over the weekend as part of a coordinated effort involving council staff and volunteers.
Gary Fielding, the County Council’s Director of Strategic Resources said: “The dedication and enthusiasm of our staff and volunteers in making this possible has been outstanding. These checks are crucial in ensuring that everyone in North Yorkshire is getting the help and support they need, particularly those who are most vulnerable.”
Members of the minibus operations team and Ready for Anything volunteers were out checking on people who are being shielded to make sure they have support in place.
Driver Ian Mears said: “Most people have family helping them or neighbours sorting shopping. One lady had a nasty cut on her leg that she was worried about but didn’t want to bother anyone, but we made sure she rang 111 to get some help. It was a good thing to be involved in, it’s what I’m doing at home anyway. Checking on neighbours and getting bits and pieces for them. You realise what a small world it is when you start knocking on doors and talking to people. It was a really positive experience.”
The number of people who have now received an outbound telephone call to check they have support in place while they are being shielded now stands at 12,780.
Over the coming bank holiday weekend, North Yorkshire County Council is also leading a relief service with staff and extra volunteers ready to meet any additional demand while many of the community support organisations take a well-deserved break. People left isolated by the coronavirus pandemic are urged to think ahead about whether they might need help with essentials such as shopping and prescriptions.
People in need of help who don’t have anyone else to call on, or anyone concerned about the welfare of someone else, should contact North Yorkshire County Council’s customer service centre on 01609 780780. The centre is open seven days a week 8am-5:30pm including bank holidays.
For more information, including links to the main supermarkets detailing arrangements 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
There have been more than 40,000 visits to our free online marketplace Buy Local, with 425 businesses now registered, ranging from plumbers to organic farm shops to solicitors.
Food supplies are still by far the most popular category, which proves that people are finding the site useful for sourcing local produce and suppliers during lockdown.
The site brings together all businesses and tradespeople eligible to operate during Covid-19 with the people who need their services. Go to www.northyorks.gov.uk/buy-local to see the range of local businesses who have signed up so far.
Please share our social media messages encouraging businesses to register, and directing the public to the site. Follow @northyorkscc on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.
LEP News: Bounce Back Loan Scheme open for applications
Following the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s announcement on 27 April, the Bounce Back Loan (BBL) Scheme opened yesterday (4 May) for applications.
Delivered by lenders accredited by the British Business Bank for this scheme, Bounce Back Loans target small and micro businesses in all sectors, providing loans from £2k up to 25% of the business’ turnover with a maximum loan of £50k.
Providing lenders with a 100% government-backed guarantee and standardising the application form is expected to lead to a faster process with many loans becoming available within days.
For more guidance on how to apply, visit https://www.gov.uk/guidance/apply-for-a-coronavirus-bounce-back-loan .
The York & North Yorkshire Growth Hub has also produced a simple walk-through for this scheme which can be found here.
Important information on the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme:
HMRC are contacting people this week who may be eligible for the new Self-Employment Income Support Scheme. If eligible, this scheme will allow them to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of their trading profits up to a maximum of £7,500.
Advice on eligibility and how to apply is here.
Small Business Grants Update:
In order to support eligible businesses in England to access the small business grants, BEIS have created a toolkit with regional graphics and messaging.
A new discretionary fund has also been announced, which will help small businesses with ongoing fixed property related costs. Please find further details here: https://bit.ly/BizGrantTopup.
As a LEP, we continue to work with many regional partners to share intelligence about the latest impact of COVID-19 on the business community, to identify ongoing emerging needs and to inform BEIS and influence government policy.
Entering the sixth week of major restrictions, on the whole we are seeing businesses continue to fall into four distinct groups but with some updates.
Trading with restrictions and re-adjustment: Continuing to operate but with constant adjustment to operating models, level of demand and use of labour. This group is seeing challenges arise from volatile changes in demand and problems with supply chains.
Stability/Reassessment: Furloughed, stable with support accessed but constantly reassessing the situation and what the future may look like. This group has started to focus on recovery and consider how, when and what it will take to re-start.
Looking to restart: Many businesses are starting to look at plans to restart operations with social distancing measures introduced. This has gained lots of traction over the last week but many questions remain unanswered.
Cash Crisis: This continues to be prevalent with the small and micro businesses who have fallen through the gaps of support. As we have just passed the end of the month we have many concerns, although the bounce-back loan scheme has come just in time for many.
Recovery has started to be the key focus. The main concern for many is the safety of staff and customers, supply chain challenges and uncertain markets. A shortage of PPE is an important concern as businesses wait for government guidance.
Stay informed on local support during and post COVID-19
The LEP, its Growth Hub and many partners are working hard to support the businesses in our region. We are updating all information on a regular basis and are keen to promote the following as main sources of local business support information:
• 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.
Made in North Yorkshire
Great North Yorkshire Sons and Daughters presents the fourth nomination from the public: Dr William Pickles, a leading epidemiologist who spent more than 50 years as the GP in Aysgarth, Wensleydale. He dedicated his life to investigating disease and epidemics, studying the science behind incubation periods of infectious diseases.
To find out more about Dr Pickles and the Made in North Yorkshire project follow this link: https://www.northyorks.gov.uk/made-in-north-yorkshire
Celebrate VE Day with your local library
The 75th anniversary celebrations of VE Day is the focus of North Yorkshire’s Local and Community History Month 2020. Our libraries are promoting free home access to family history sites Find my Past and Ancestry, as well as e-book and e-audio collections including Second World War and VE Day titles.
Selby library is encouraging its customers to send in family wartime memories and others are highlighting their digital local history collections. Harrogate library is posting a weekly Then and Now photograph, Ripon library is featuring covers from the Ripon Gazette, and Northallerton library is sharing photographs from its local history collection.
For details of all events, please visit www.northyorks.gov.uk/libraries-news-and-events or your local library Facebook page.
Tour ancient Rome
You can explore other cities and even other times online, such as this virtual tour of ancient Rome which takes you through the forum, Capitoline Hill, and famous monuments. https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/rome?utm_source=fl_blog&utm_medium=organic&utm_campaign=covid_content
Write a play or short film
Try out a free screenwriting course to learn the ropes and (hopefully) catapult you into stardom after your first film is made: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/screenwriting
Joy of painting
403 episodes of the timeless Joy of Painting have been added to YouTube so you can listen to his soothing tones while you paint happy little trees and enjoy the beauty of imperfections: https://www.youtube.com/user/BobRossInc/videos
Visit the MoMA
A huge number of art galleries and museums around the world have digitised their collections and are now offering free virtual tours: https://artsandculture.google.com/partner/moma-the-museum-of-modern-art?hl=en
Go to 500 other museums or galleries
Google’s arts and culture collection has virtual tours of 500 attractions around the world, including national galleries from around the world, individual artist museums, and even the Eiffel Tower: https://artsandculture.google.com/partner?hl=en
Go to the aquarium
Although they’re closed to the public, Monterey Bay Aquarium have 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