Covid-19: Updates and advice

Following the statement from the Prime Minister today (12th October) the government has introduced a new system called ‘local COVID alert levels’. This will replace current guidance on Wednesday 14 October. They have published new guidance on this at: Information on local COVID alert levels, including what they mean, why they are being introduced and what the different levels are.

Currently all of Buckinghamshire as well as Milton Keynes are subject to national restriction which from Wednesday will be medium level. A list of areas at high or very high is at: http://bit.ly/COVIDLocalAreas

Local COVID alert level: medium This is for areas where national restrictions continue to be in place. 

This means:

  • you must not socialise in groups larger than 6, indoors or outdoors (other than where a legal exemption applies)
  • businesses and venues can continue to operate, in a COVID-secure manner, other than those that remain closed in law
  • certain businesses are required to ensure customers only consume food and drink while seated, and must close between 10pm and 5am 
  • businesses and venues selling food for consumption off the premises can continue to do so after 10pm as long as this is through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-through
  • schools and universities remain open
  • places of worship remain open, subject to the rule of 6
  • weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on numbers of attendees
  • exercise classes and organised sport can continue to take place outdoors, or indoors if the rule of 6 is followed

You must:

  • wear a face covering in those areas where this is mandated

You should continue to:

  • follow social distancing rules
  • work from home where you can effectively do so
  • when travelling, plan ahead or avoid busy times and routes
  • walk or cycle if you can
From Buckinghamshire Unitary Council:

The new NHS COVID-19 app is now live and is available for people in England and Wales to download and use on their smartphones. This is the ‘official’ NHS app to support the Test and Trace system. The app doesn’t use personal data other than the first part of a user’s postcode – it works anonymously via Bluetooth. Users download it voluntarily and we want to encourage people to do so, as the more people who use the app, the more effective it will be  
How it works and what it does: The app will work on both Apple and Android devices. Some users may have to install the latest update.  All users will have to have Bluetooth enabled on their phones. It only needs to run in low energy mode.    If someone doesn’t have a smartphone then they cannot use the app. The app is available in the following languages and it’s hoped this list will be extended: English, Punjabi, Urdu, Gujarati, Bengali, Welsh.  Users can use the app to:
i) Report symptoms ii) order a coronavirus test iii) check into venues like pubs, cafe and restaurants, churches, leisure centres and hairdressers using a QR code
Users will not give their personal data; the app will store info on what time the user enters and leaves a venue and it will use Bluetooth to see which other users have been at the same place at the same time. If another user who’d been in close contact then reported symptoms or a confirmed case, the user would be automatically sent an alert with further advice if necessary, such as whether they should isolate. This alert would not identify the person who had tested positive – it uses unique anonymous IDs embedded in the phone itself. The postcode information supplied by users allows the NHS to see which areas the virus is spreading in. It’s just the first half of the postcode that users will put in eg HP19.      If the app advises someone to isolate, it also provides a countdown timer so they can easily keep track of how long to stay isolated. The app will also let users check symptoms; it will give a list of symptoms and they can select which ones apply to them – it will then tell the user if the symptoms suggest they have coronavirus   Venues: Certain venues are now required to display the posters with the ‘check in’ QR codes for app users to use. Most of these venues will need to display the QR codes by law – although this is not the case for all eg places of worship (unless they have a café or similar on site too). People who don’t have the app will have to sign in directly with the venue, who are obliged by law to keep contact information on all visitors/customers on a 21 day rolling basis. This list of venues includes all local authority venues. This means all Buckinghamshire Council buildings are now required to display the NHS App QR code posters. All venues from the following sectors will also be required  to display the NHS App QR code posters: hospitality, leisure and tourism, close contact services, libraries and places of worship   Why it’s so important: This technology will allow the NHS to find out much more quickly if the virus is spreading in a certain area. It will significantly reduce the amount of time it takes to alert people if they’ve been in contact with a case.          The app helps trace other users who’ve spent time near each other, even if they don’t know each other personally. Users will be able to check the app each day to see if their postcode area has become higher risk – meaning people can more easily make personal choices about their movements. If enough people use it, it will significantly help the NHS trace the spread of the virus, ultimately helping both the user and the wider population.
Privacy: The app does not store personal data, other than the first part of a user’s postcode. If a user tests positive for coronavirus, they can choose whether to enter this information into the app – it isn’t compulsory. The positive user’s ID and privacy is protected at all times. The app cannot access any other data on the user’s phone such as contacts or photos. The app cannot be used: to identify you; to track you; to check if you are self-isolating; by law enforcement. The app tracks the virus, not the user   For detailed information about the new COVID-19 NHS App go to www.COVID-19.nhs.uk

Coronavirus advice and links to information:

https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable

https://www.buckinghamshire.gov.uk/coronavirus/

https://www.buckinghamshire.gov.uk/coronavirus/service-changes/

https://www.buckinghamshire.gov.uk/coronavirus/video-updates/

https://www.buckinghamshire.gov.uk/coronavirus/community-hub/

Community Impact Bucks – Advice for groups

https://www.buckinghamshire.gov.uk/coronavirus/coronavirus-business-support-hub/local-support-businesses/

Food Bank Support poster
Griffin Trust Coronavirus Hardship Fund

Local lifelines support work for residents at highest risk

1 April 2020: Local lifelines are being set up this week by Buckinghamshire Council for those residents identified by the NHS as having severe medical conditions who may not have family or friends nearby to support them.

The Council will run eight Local Support Hubs, during the coronavirus emergency, in the Amersham, Aylesbury, Beaconsfield, Buckingham, Chesham, High Wycombe, Princes Risborough, and Marlow areas.

Hubs will oversee co-ordination and distribution for the Council’s volunteer support network, helping with essential food parcels, fuel top-up cards and assistance with getting medicines and medical appointments.

Gareth Williams, Cabinet Member for Communities and Public Health, said it was vital that no one missed out on care and support. “These hubs will do a fantastic job in supporting the great work already being done by volunteers, community groups, churches and charities right across Buckinghamshire, who are already pulling out all the stops to help our older and more vulnerable residents.”

Gareth said residents at high risk – often referred to as the shielded population – would receive letters from the NHS or their GPs explaining how to register for support, at https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable or by calling the Government helpline on 0800 0288327. 

He pointed out vulnerable residents, or their carers, without a letter, but who felt they should qualify for this support, could still register if they quoted their NHS number. They could also find local groups offering support on the Council website.

And Gareth encouraged residents able to volunteer to help with Local Support Hub work to sign up at  www.buckinghamshire.gov.uk/coronavirus/community-hub 
  
In addition to this group, the Council’s social care team has identified 750 older and more vulnerable residents, and is keeping in daily contact with them to ensure they are safe and have the support they need.

Nearly 100 other people, who called the council on its helpline 01296 383204 for support and advice, have been linked up with support from volunteers and community groups.  

Gareth said: “We’re working well with our colleagues in the NHS and with our county’s volunteer groups in very difficult circumstances. Everyone is doing their utmost and I applaud their superhuman efforts. Together we’ll get through this emergency and emerge a stronger community as a result.”

Anyone concerned about a vulnerable person who may need support can contact Buckinghamshire Council by emailing communities@buckinghamshire.gov.uk  or telephoning 01296 383204.