Infection Rates in Kirklees are Still Rising, Despite the Lockdown.
Last week, Kirklees went up from number 13 in the country in terms of infection rates, to number 9, and this week we have risen further to number 5. We now have the highest infection rate in West Yorkshire.
In light of this, Kirklees Council have asked us to share some specific additional guidance for support groups, with the key message that they:
strongly recommend you do not open for face–to-face support for the next
4 weeks to keep people as safe as we can and to reduce infection rates.
New Government Guidance on Safe Volunteering
The Government have also released new guidance on Enabling Safe and Effective Volunteering During Coronavirus for people who run voluntary groups or manage volunteers. This includes advice for mutual aid groups, and includes things like insurance, safeguarding and testing.
And New Government Guidance for Multi-Purpose Community Facilities
The Government has also today, updated the guidance for community centres and village halls, reinforcing the fact that they can only be open for 4 reasons, which are:
- providing essential voluntary activities or urgent public support services (including the provision of food banks or other support for the homeless or vulnerable people, blood donation sessions or support in an emergency),
- the purposes of education or training (where education is towards a formal qualification as part of the core curriculum and training is for professional/work-related development),
- the purposes of support groups, or
- the purposes of registered childcare or supervised activities for children.
Previous Rules & Info as of 5th November 2020
Everyone must stay at home as much as possible.
Community centres and places of worship must close.
Charity work and volunteering should be at home if possible.
Charities and community groups can still run emergency or essential services (such as food banks, mutual aid, crisis care etc.)
Face to face working, volunteering and support should be a last resort
We have had confirmation today from Kirklees Council that meeting in person should be discouraged unless it is essential or an emergency. This is a full national lockdown like the one in March, but with a bit more leeway (to make sure that things like education and healthcare don’t grind to a halt and have a long-term knock-on effect.), and so people should treat it as such. So, for example, schools, colleges and universities are staying open, as are GPs, dentists, opticians, osteopaths and physios.
There are some exemptions to the regulations for ‘support’, but again, the Council says this is only for essential or emergency support, and their preferred pathway for people needing support is:
- Where people can, they should do things for themselves
- Where people can access support via friends and family, they should
- People should contact the Community Response helpline if they cannot get support via friends and family
- And/or access online support where possible
- Face to face support should be a last case scenario for groups who absolutely need it.
What does this mean for the third sector?
As with businesses, all third sector organisations should be working or volunteering from home if possible.
The regulations say that we must:
- Stay at home, except for specific purposes.
- Avoid meeting people you do not live with, except for specific purposes.
- Close certain businesses and venues.
And in fact, that includes some community venues:
- Community centres and halls must close except for a limited number of exempt activities as set out below.
- Libraries must close but can remain open to provide access to IT and digital services – for example for people who do not have it at home – and for click-and-collect (and as a venue for support groups, registered childcare or voluntary services).
- Places of worship can only be open for the purposes of independent prayer, and service broadcasting and funerals
And in addition, Kirklees Council has said that groups can’t volunteer on their land during lockdown.
These (businesses and) places will also be permitted to be open for a small number of exempt activities, including:
- essential voluntary and urgent public support services (including support groups)
- education and training (including for schools to use sports and leisure facilities where that it part of their normal provision)
- registered childcare purposes and supervised activities for children
- blood donation and food banks
- to provide medical treatment
- for elite sports persons (in indoor and outdoor sports facilities), professional dancers and choreographers (in fitness and dance studios)
- for training and rehearsal without an audience (in theatres and concert halls)
- for the purposes of professional film and TV filming
Please note that:
- education and training generally refers to formal education for children and young people. Adult education should take place online wherever possible.
- children’s activities need to be ‘supervised’.
- read more
Gatherings are only permitted between:
- Members of the same household
- Members of 2 households who are linked as a ‘support bubble’ or ‘childcare bubble’
- 2 people from different households in an outdoor public space. However there can be more than 2 if it includes children under 5 or someone who is a carer for a disabled or vulnerable person.
The exceptions to this are if ‘the gathering is reasonably necessary for’:
- work purposes or for voluntary or charitable purposes
- for education or training
- emergency assistance
- to help someone avoid injury, illness or harm
- to provide care or assistance for a vulnerable person
- to facilitate a house move
For a gathering to take place you have to take the required precautions including:
- a risk assessment that satisfies the requirements of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
- reasonable measures to limit the risk of transmission of coronavirus
- taking into account both the risk assessment and any Government guidance that’s relevant to the gathering
Support groups can be an exception to a ‘gathering’ if:
- it consists of no more than 15 people (again, excluding under 5s and carers)
- doesn’t take place in a private home
- and it is reasonably necessary for members of the group to be physically present at the group
The support group has to be a group or 1-1 support organised by a business, charity, group or public body to give mutual aid, therapy, or support for things like:
- victims of crime and domestic abuse
- people recovering from addiction or addictive behaviours
- new parents
- people caring for those with long-term illnesses, terminal conditions or vulnerable people
- people facing issues around sexuality or gender identity
- people who are bereaved
- vulnerable young people