COVID-19 – Regional testing sites
Drive-through coronavirus testing facilities are now open at the Beehive Park & Ride, Salisbury and the Wroughton Park & Ride, Swindon as part of the Government’s UK-wide work to increase testing.
Anyone experiencing a new, continuous cough, a high temperature, or a loss of or change in their normal sense of smell or taste, can book an appointment on the NHS website to be tested for whether they currently have coronavirus. Essential workers can book a test on the GOV.UK essential worker self-referral portal.
The testing facilities in Salisbury and Swindon, which are being piloted for the first few days of operation, are operated in partnership with Sodexo and will offer assisted and self-administered tests. Those tested will receive their results within a few days.
In addition to the regional test sites, 116 mobile testing units operated by the Armed Forces travel around the UK to further increase access to coronavirus testing. They respond to need, travelling to test at sites including care homes, police stations and prisons. New units are being brought into operation each day.
The Government has also set up a home-testing service, supported by Amazon's logistics network and other commercial partners. Home test kits can be delivered to someone’s door so they can test themselves and their family without leaving the house.
To book a test:
- NHS test booking route: Details here
- Those unable to access the internet can call 119 in England and Wales or 0300 303 2713 in Scotland and Northern Ireland to book a test.
- GOV.UK essential worker test portal: Details here
NHS online services
The NHS has created a Health at Home campaign which signposts the public to the information they need to contact their GP, order repeat prescriptions, manage their wellbeing and existing conditions, by accessing online services.
Further information can be found here
Accessing green space and exercise
On Monday, the Government updated its guidance on accessing green spaces and undertaking exercise safely.
In England, people can now leave their home to exercise and spend time outdoors for recreation with their household or in groups of up to six people from outside their household.
To stay safe, the public must:
• take hygiene precautions when they are outside
• wash their hands as soon as they are back indoors
• keep at least two metres apart from anyone outside their household at all times
• take hand sanitiser with them when they set off in case there are no handwashing facilities
The guidance (available here) includes an updated list of what the public can now do, advice for land managers and landowners, as well as a reminder to respect other people and protect the natural environment.
Further guidance for the public on the phased return of outdoor sport and recreation in England was also published (available here).
People who play team sports can meet to train together, although anything involving physical contact is not allowed. It will also allow parents to accompany their children to coaching sessions carried out on a one to one basis or in small groups.
The guidance reiterates that people should wash their hands frequently and keep equipment sharing to a minimum. Outdoor and indoor gyms and swimming pools, playgrounds, fitness studios and other indoor leisure centres remain closed, except for facilities for training elite athletes. Indoor facilities such as clubhouses should be kept closed, apart from toilets and throughways.
The Cabinet Office’s FAQ document on what the public can and cannot do, and the guidance on staying alert and safe has been updated accordingly.
With the onset of cooler, wetter weather the Government is keen to remind people not to move any planned outdoor gatherings inside.
Shielding of extremely vulnerable people
At the Government’s press conference on 31 May, the Communities Secretary announced that those advised to shield due to being clinically extremely vulnerable can take initial steps to spend time outdoors.
The updated advisory guidance (available here) now states that a shielded person can go outside once a day with members of their household or, for those shielding alone, with one other person from a different household, if they wish to do so. This is in accordance with evidence that the rate of transmission is much lower outside.
Some important aspects of the guidance remain the same. Apart from going outside once per day, a shielded person should continue to avoid all non-essential face to face contact. This means they should not go to places like supermarkets or to pharmacies.
The Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) continues to deliver free working safely webinars for businesses ( details here ) for companies preparing to restart their operations.
To support businesses, BEIS is sharing case study videos of how different companies are effectively applying social distancing measures in their workplaces. These include; medical, retail, food, manufacturing, construction, fitness, energy and hospitality sectors.
All of the case studies are available to download here.
Household recycling centres – you can now book online
Online bookings have opened for trips to household recycling centres (HRCs), so people can now to book a visit to any of Wiltshire’s 10 HRCs, up to three days in advance.
Because of the need to limit people on site to ensure social distancing, in recent weeks there have been long queues at Wiltshire’s HRCs. These have been well managed, but this is not sustainable in the long term, so we have implemented an online booking only system.
From Monday 10 June, people can only visit a HRC with a pre-booked slot; anyone who turns up without a booking will not be allowed to access the site. Staff on the gate will check registration numbers against a list of bookings.
Other changes from Monday include:
Stanton St Quintin site will reopen, so all 10 sites are open.
All sites will revert to their usual summer opening times.
Sites will be able to accept soil, rubble, plasterboard, textiles and, at some sites, asbestos once again.
Changes to ensure social distancing on site remain in place, so only one person can get out of each car, staff cannot help to unload waste, and trailers or vehicles 3.5 tonnes and over will not be permitted.
There are around 10,000 available booking slots across the 10 sites each week, and new slots are added every 15 minutes over the working day, so people should have plenty of opportunities to visit their local site.
Until Monday, sites are still operating the postcode entry system and operating at reduced hours. To find out more about the new booking system, please read our FAQs, or make a booking online.
Wiltshire Wellbeing Hub
The Wellbeing Hub continues its work to support vulnerable individuals as the COVID-19 situation evolves. Following further information from the Government’s Shielding Helpline and analysis of recent contact rates which indicate a reduction in demand, the hub’s opening hours will change with effect this weekend (6 June).
The Hub will now operate Mondays to Fridays, from 9am-6pm and Saturday 10am-4pm.
We will continue to monitor demand for the hub and will ensure that our services are commensurate with need, both now and in the future. If anyone requires urgent support outside the hub opening hours, an emergency contact number is provided on the hub’s out of hours message for people to use.
Discretionary Grant Scheme
The council is launching its local Discretionary Grant Scheme on Monday (8 June), after receiving over £5.1 million of additional Government funding to support small businesses.
Eligible businesses prioritised for funding include:
- small businesses in shared offices or other flexible workspaces. Examples could include mills, units in industrial parks, science parks and incubators which do not have their own business rates assessment
- regular market traders with fixed building costs, such as rent, who do not have their own business rates assessment
- Bed & Breakfasts which pay Council Tax instead of business rates, and
- charity properties in receipt of charitable business rates relief which would otherwise have been eligible for Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Rate Relief
To help businesses prepare for the launch of the scheme, we’ve provided guidance for applications and further details of how the scheme will be administered on our website: here
Businesses will be asked to provide evidence relating to fixed property costs, annual turnover and Covid-19 financial impact, to support their application. Bed & Breakfasts will be required to submit additional supplementary information.
Small Business Grant or Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant
The council is still progressing applications for the Small Business Grant and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant and it has transferred over £83 million to over 7,000 local businesses.
The council continues to encourage eligible businesses to apply for these schemes via the online application form. Details here
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme extended
This scheme has been extended until October and includes improved flexibility to bring furloughed employees back part-time in July and a new taper requiring employers to contribute to furloughed employees’ salaries from August.
- June/July: the Government will continue to pay 80% of furloughed employees’ wages up to a cap of £2,500 as well as employer National Insurance (ER NICS) and pension contributions. Employers are not required to pay anything.
- From 1 July: businesses will be given the flexibility to bring furloughed employees back to work part-time. Firms can decide the hours and shift patterns their employees will work on their return. Employers will be responsible for paying employees’ wages while in work.
- From 1 August: the Government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500. Employers will pay ER NICS and pension contributions.
- September: The Government will pay 70% of wages up to a cap of £2,187.50. Employers will pay ER NICS, pension contributions and 10% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,500.
- October: The Government will pay 60% of wages up to a cap of £1,875. Employers will pay ER NICS, pension contributions and 20% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,500.
Further guidance on flexible furloughing and how employers should calculate claims will be available on Friday 12 June.
The scheme will close to new entrants from 30 June from which point, employers will only be able to furlough employees that they have furloughed for a full three-week period prior to 30 June. Therefore, the final date by which an employer can furlough an employee for the first time will be 10 June. Employers will have until 31 July to make any claims in respect of the period to 30 June.
Self-employment Income Support Scheme also extended
Those eligible for this scheme will be able to claim a second and final grant in August. The grant will be worth 70% of the average monthly trading profits, covering three months’ worth of profits. It will be paid out in a single instalment capped at £6,570 in total.
The eligibility criteria is the same for both grants and further guidance on the second grant will be published on Friday 12 June.
Self-employed individuals can continue to apply for the first initial grant up until 13 July. This grant is worth 80% of the average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering three months’ worth of profits, capped at £7,500 in total.
The Government’s fact sheet on both of these schemes can be viewed here.
To help businesses prepare for re-opening, the council is providing a list of suppliers who are offering PPE supplies.
This list of PPE suppliers is for information only and should not be seen as a recommendation or endorsement of any of the suppliers mentioned. It only contains those suppliers who have recently contacted Wiltshire Council to indicate they can offer a range of PPE supplies. This list is not exhaustive, and these are not the only routes to market; there are many other suppliers that may be local, more competitive, have a wider range of PPE available or easier to access.
If businesses require PPE, they will need to contact suppliers, carry out their own due diligence to satisfy themselves about the quality of the products they are buying and the company they are buying from.
The list is available on our website: view here.
Cllr Philip Whitehead