Coronavirus support in Somerset

As of the 24th September, the Prime Minister announced additional national measures to halt the spread of coronavirus, after a spike in cases. 

But -what does this mean?

One of the most obvious is that after encouraging people back to the office for the past  few weeks, we now need people to start working from home wherever they’re able. To be clear, wherever people can’t fully deliver their responsibilities from home, they’re allowed – and encouraged – to continue attending their workplace. 

There has also been a change in the requirement for face coverings. Now, they must be worn by: 

  • Customers in private hire vehicles and taxis.
  • Customers in hospitality venues, except when seated at a table to eat or drink. Staff in hospitality and retail.
  • Staff working on public transport and taxi drivers will continue to be advised to wear them.

People who are already exempt from the existing face covering obligations, such as because of an underlying health condition, will continue to be exempt from these new obligations.

Guidance stating that face coverings and visors should be worn in close contact services will now become law.

The hospitality industry has done brilliantly to adapt to the ever-changing situation but unfortunately, it has now become necessary for them to help us once again by abiding by the new rules and enforcing them. 

  • Businesses selling food or drink (including cafes, bars, pubs and restaurants), social clubs, casinos, bowling alleys, amusement arcades (and other indoor leisure centres or facilities), funfairs, theme parks, adventure parks and activities, and bingo halls, must be closed between 10pm and 5am. This will include takeaways but delivery services can continue after 10pm .
  • In licensed premises, food and drink must be ordered from, and served at, a table.
  • Customers must eat and drink at a table in any premises selling food and drink to consume on site.
  • Businesses will need to display the official NHS QR code posters so that customers can ‘check-in’ at different premises using this option as an alternative to providing their contact details.
  • A wider range of leisure and entertainment venues, services provided in community centres, and close contact services will be subject to the COVID-19 Secure requirements in law and fines of up to £10,000 for repeated breaches.
  • Employers must not knowingly require or encourage someone who is being required to self-isolate to come to work.
  • Businesses must remind people to wear face coverings where mandated.

The cruel reality about this virus is that it thrives on the social contact which we all enjoy  so much. However, it is important we meet people safely. Adjustments have been made to 

  • Support groups must be limited to a maximum of 15 people.
  • Indoor organised sport for over 18s will no longer be exempt from the rule of six. There is an exemption for indoor organised team sports for disabled people.
  • There will be a new exemption in those areas of local intervention where household mixing is not allowed to permit friends and family to provide informal childcare for children under 14.
  • Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies and receptions will be restricted to a maximum of 15 people (down from 30). Other significant standalone life events will be subject to the ‘rule of six’ limits, except funerals.

Government has announced an initial £60 million to support additional enforcement activity by local authorities and the police, in addition to funding that has already been awarded.

The spread of the virus is also affecting our ability to reopen business conferences, exhibition halls and large sporting events, so we will not be able to do this from 1 October.

The government’s expectation is the measures described above will need to remain in place until March 2021.

In this turbulent time, it is important the community helps those who are most vulnerable and there has been some amazing work here in Somerset. If you are in need of help, or want to give back to the community, these links should be useful. 

Here are some of the amazing groups set up across the constituency. 

Shepton Mallet - Contact: Mike Perry, mike@dobb.in 

Wells - Contact: Call 01749 467079 or email hello@helpwells.co.uk 

Burnham-on-Sea - Contact: groves1234@yahoo.co.uk

Glastonbury - Contact: glastonburycommunity@gmail.com 

Cheddar 

Walton Community Helpline - 07342 115108 or 07342 115100

Please do let me know of any others and I will add to the list. 

If you would like to register to be an NHS volunteer, you can apply here if you are fit and healthy.