These are difficult times and we need to come together to help each other! I have received hundreds of questions about combating coronavirus and keeping yourselves and loved ones safe during this pandemic. As the situation develops information and advice is rapidly changing. This is my round up of the latest sources of information and advice on the coronavirus.
The best thing you can do to combat coronavirus is to stay at home keep your exposure to others at a minimum and continue to wash your hands, frequently, for at least 20 seconds.
The Government have gathered all advice they have issued on coronavirus covering a range of topics here. It answers some commonly asked questions.
There continue to be concerns about social distancing at work. I am raising this with Government and employees but please share with me concerns you have.
Myself and my team will continue to be available to help constituents by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on 01912325838. My surgeries have moved online in light so I can still be available for constituents, without compromising social distancing.. I will personally be available by phone or video every working Friday 1pm – 2pm so please do get in touch. Details can be found above and across my social media accounts and website.
You can still join the NHS volunteer scheme to support the 1.5 million people in England who are most at risk from the virus. There are a range of ways you can offer your support depending on your skills and availability.
The Council have launched a scheme called Citylife Line where you can offer your services or request support.
For those who need housing support or are at risk of homelessness please contact my team or the council. The council will no longer be available to take appointments in person but can provide support via email or by phone.
If you have a mortgage but have found the crisis has affected your income please contact your mortgage provider who can provide a three month mortgage holiday. Landlords are also being asked to be compassionate towards tenants who may be struggling to make rent payments. The Government has also suspended new proceedings for evictions of tenants through the courts for the next three months.
Unfortunately due to the crisis demand for food banks has increased dramatically and they are also facing difficulty as volunteers have to self-isolate. However, they are still there to support anyone in the community who is in need of their services and their websites will have the most up to date information:
Those of us who are able to donate are being asked to do so if possible and the council is also working with food banks to ensure supplies. Food banks are being affected by those who are stockpiling and are finding it hard to keep shelves stocked. Please only buy what you genuinely need to prevent others going without.
This is really important information that we must all follow to protect our own health and that of others. It will literally save lives.
- Avoid all non-essential travel. Ideally only leave your house for shopping or medical supplies once a week.
- Work from home where possible.
- You are allowed out once daily for exercise but keep a distance of 2 metres from anyone not in your household.
- Public gatherings of more than two people (not in the same household) are banned.
The Government will review these measures next week to see if these have had the desired effect of slowing the rate of infection if the evidence allows. We all must be following them to support those staff working so hard in our NHS and to prevent it becoming overwhelmed. The police have the power to enforce these measures with fines or by dispersing gatherings.
Newcastle City Council have a great video explaining what we all need to do and why here.
Newcastle council have launched a business support service that will help ensure business can access to the funding they are entitled to. You can submit a grant request and explore the governments support for business here
All residents who have been identified as extremely vulnerable to the virus should now have been identified by letter. Current advice is that they should stay inside and avoid in person contact for 12 weeks. Whilst this is a big ask it is for their own safety and measures are being put in place to make this possible e.g. food parcels.
All schools are still open to children of key workers and vulnerable children. There are also some nurseries, playgroups and childminders open across the city to provide support to these children. Staff have done a great job under difficult circumstances in providing support to the families that need it. The government advice for key workers is that they should only send their children to school or childcare if it is not possible to keep them at home.
Free School Meals: All children who currently receive free school meals will still receive them. If they are still attending school then they will eat at school as normal. For those children no longer attending school their school will issue vouchers and should be able to answer any questions about how this is being done.
The National Education Unions have launched a coronavirus crisis advice page for parents and teachers here
We are lucky that Newcastle has many parks and green spaces that we can enjoy. These will remain open to allow daily trips outside to exercise but social distancing measures must be followed. All playgrounds, cafes, shops and public facilities are closed.
The Metro and local bus services are now running a reduced service and we should all be avoiding non-essential use of public transport where possible.
NHS staff have been working round the clock for which we are all very grateful. To support them the council has made over 700 parking spaces available for free. NCP have also made the Carliol Square and John Hobson Street car parks available for free if pre-booked – more details here. The Metro service has also made the Four Lane Ends and Regent Centre car park available to NHS staff for free.
Collections continue as normal and the council has issued guidelines on how to dispose of personal waste such as used tissues or cleaning cloths here.
I have been contacted by many constituents who have loved ones that are currently stranded abroad, and am working to help bring them home. You can find advice on a country by country basis here. The Foreign and Commonwealth office has announced a partnership with airlines to begin providing return flights for British nationals, further information on this announcement can be found here
Following government advice that we should avoid unnecessary travel all Household Waste and Recycling Centres are closer until further notice. While they are closed please store any waste – we may be allowed outside less but we still wish to take pride in our city.
I will send out updates regularly but please do get in touch. And remember, stay home and save lives. And also stay safe!
All the very best