Rates are still rising in Kirklees and the council is urging us to be extremely careful.
We are now 2 weeks into the new national lockdown, and we can confirm that Covid infection rates are still going up in Kirklees (but that the rise in infection rate is slowing), and that 50% of new cases are now due to the new strain and these cases are doubling every week. We are therefore at a crucial point locally, and the situation could go either way.
The Council would like us to consider this when we’re planning any activity, and would like us to adhere to the national lockdown rules and make sure that people are staying at home as much as possible, are staying local and are reducing journeys to the absolute minimum.
The key question to ask, when consider whether a support group or service is essential, is whether participants would be at more risk of harm if they stayed at home than if they attended a group or activity.
If you do still need to have people working or volunteering, and still need to run services or activities, you must do risk assessments for each activity and location, and put in place appropriate measures to minimise the risk of transmission and infection.
The Key National Lockdown Rules
The rules say that people should not leave their homes unless they absolutely have to, and apart from for specific reasons, which include to:
- provide voluntary or charitable services
- provide care for disabled or vulnerable people
- attend a support group (of up to 15 people)
If we do have to travel for any reason, we should try and stay local and minimise the number of journeys we’re making.
Outside of our homes, we can only meet with 1 other person from another household (in a public outside space in our local area) for exercise, once a day, apart from:
- To provide voluntary or charitable services, where it is unreasonable to do so from home
- For registered childcare, or for supervised activities for children where this enables a parent to work, seek work, attend education or training, or for respite care
- For formal education or training
- To provide emergency assistance, to avoid injury or illness, or to escape a risk of harm (including domestic abuse)
Rules for Support Groups
with additional guidance from Kirklees Council (This is pretty much the same as it was in Tier 3, although we need to be more mindful of the risk of transmission with the new variant of Covid.)
A support group of up to 15 participants can still meet if:
- They must be formally organised groups
- They can provide mutual aid, therapy or any other form of support, where they have to take place in person
- They can’t meet in private houses
The maximum number of 15 people does not include any workers or volunteers who are running or facilitating the group, and doesn’t include children under 5.
Kirklees Council says that face-to face support should only take place when it would be more harmful for participants to stay at home than physically go to a group. When deciding on whether to continue running a group you must consider:
- Can you meet your outcomes or deliver your service or activities online? This remains the safest way to operate services and classes.
- If you can’t deliver online – can you run some, or all of your activities, outside?
- Is it necessary that you meet face to face during this time?
If you open, you must also consider:
- Take all the usual precautions like social distancing, hand washing or sanitising and wearing face coverings.
- It is not advisable to share equipment of any kind.
- You must not provide or sell communal refreshments – although people can bring their own.
- Cafe facilities must remain closed or offer take away (off site) only.
Please remember, reducing social contact with people from outside of our households and support bubbles is key to protecting ourselves, our loved ones and the wider community.
Rules for Community Buildings and Venues
Obviously, because this is a full national lockdown, more buildings, office spaces and community venues have to be closed, than in Tier 3, including community centres and halls, shops, cafes and social clubs. However, as in Tier 3 they can stay open if they provide:
- provide education and training – for schools to use sports, leisure and community facilities if that is part of their normal provision
- provide childcare and supervised activities for children
- host blood donation sessions and food banks
- provide medical treatment
- allow elite sports persons to train and compete (in indoor and outdoor sports facilities)
- allow professional dancers and choreographers to work (in fitness and dance studios)
- allow training and rehearsal without an audience (in theatres and concert halls)
- allow film and TV filming.
In summary then, the council says that community buildings can still be used for:
- the purposes of formal education or training
- support groups
- registered childcare or supervised activities for children
- wedding ceremonies, funerals and wakes (numerical limits must be adhered to)
Rules for Leafleting
Leafleting should not go ahead during a national lockdown unless it is deemed to be essential.
There is a local election planned for May 2021, but at present political groups cannot go out canvassing and campaigning.
Work and Volunteering
Work from home if you can do.
- You can only leave home to work if it is unreasonable for you to do your job from home
- Public sector employees working in essential services, including education settings, should continue to go into work where necessary
- If it is necessary for to work in other people’s homes – for example, nannies, cleaners or tradespeople – you can do.
Volunteers are subject to the same rules and guidance as workers and they should only volunteer outside their home if:
- you cannot volunteer from home
- you follow the social distancing guidelines
- you’ve not been told to self-isolate by NHS test and trace
- you’re not self-isolating for any other reason
And people volunteering outside their home can meet in groups of any size, indoors or outdoors, BUT the volunteering activity must not include meeting as part of a social activity.
Extremely clinically vulnerable people should ONLY volunteer from home during this lockdown.