Date Published: 17 March 2020
Council Leader Oliver Hemsley
In the past seven days, the government has moved rapidly through several stages of action intended to contain and delay the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) here in the UK.
This is a fast-pace and constantly evolving situation. As such, it’s important that you and your family are able to follow the very latest information and advice.
I know there is a great deal of rumour and speculation circulating online, so I would advise everyone to refer to trusted sources as we continue to seek advice and guidance for ourselves and those we care for.
The UK government, Public Health England (PHE) and our NHS are the best sources of information for individuals, families, communities and businesses, and you can find quick links to all of their official COVID-19 guidance on our website.
As of writing this, the UK currently has 1,950 confirmed cases of COVID-19. At this time, there are still no confirmed cases of the virus here in Rutland but that will change. As more and more cases are announced daily, it is only a matter of time before they start to be recorded here. It is therefore hugely important that we continue to take the precautionary measures asked of us by those leading the UK’s pandemic response.
Following the Prime Minister’s latest announcement, anyone with a high temperature or a new, continuous cough is being asked to stay at home and self-isolate for seven days. Furthermore, if you live with other people, they should stay at home for 14 days from when the first person started to show symptoms.
Wherever possible and in increasingly large numbers, people are being asked to work from home.
This is going to impact people’s everyday lives in a big way and cause considerable disruption for households. Communities have already begun to rally around, with volunteer groups and good neighbour schemes in towns and villages, offering assistance with shopping, collecting medicines or other support if you or your family are self-isolation.
Many of these groups are led or coordinated by our Parish Councils and, again, you can find further information and contact details on our website.
As well as working together with regional partners, including the NHS, we are in close contact with your Parish and Town Councils, so that we understand their needs and can represent them in national discussions about how best to support local communities.
People aged over 70 or with a long-term health condition are at an increased risk from COVID-19. The government has talked openly about the possibility that older residents and those with pre-existing health needs may need self-isolate for an extended period of time.
Rutland County Council’s adult social care teams are already planning for how we can help and support the many older people who live in our county and ensure they get the help and support they need.
The day-to-day work we do to provide care and support for vulnerable people will not stop because of coronavirus. Whatever efforts are needed to contain the virus and protect those most at risk will be carried out together with our existing care commitments. We will be asking a great deal of our social care staff, and other Council services that work alongside them, but we are ready and prepared to do what needs to be done.
We must also think about our local businesses and how they may be affected. I recently spoke with some 50 local businesses about coronavirus and the impact it could have on staffing and their ability to trade.
The government has responded to COVID-19 by announcing a range of support measures in its latest budget, including a new Business Interruption Loan Scheme delivered by the British Business Bank, which will support businesses to access bank lending and overdrafts.
HMRC has also set up a telephone helpline for businesses who are worried about the impact of coronavirus and about paying tax. This includes anyone who is self –employed. You can call the HMRC contact helpline on: 0800 0159 559.
Further information and links to official guidance for businesses can also be found here.
This is, without question, an incredibly difficult time for both our county and our country. As a Council, we are in daily contact with the UK government and senior health officials who are coordinating the coronavirus response.
We have plans in place to make sure we can continue to provide the essential services that you and others rely on. We have taken the decision to cancel all public meetings for the foreseeable future, and may need to close some public buildings in order to support national infection prevention and social distancing measures. However, this will be temporary and will not affect our key care and community support services.
We will do our best to minimise disruption to non-essential services. Where this can’t be avoided because of the need to protect members of the public and provide critical care, we will make sure you are kept informed and have all the latest information.
We are well prepared, fully focussed and determined to make sure Rutland’s communities and businesses are supported for as long as is needed to overcome coronavirus.
Please continue to monitor our website, social media channels and the local press for further updates.
For information and advice about COVID-19 please see our coronavirus page.