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New coronavirus measures for Sefton school visitors

From today (Friday 18 September) adults visiting Sefton schools will be required to wear face coverings when visiting or entering the school premises. Also, just one adult will be able to enter the premises for drop-off and pick-up.

Parents and carers dropping off or collecting their children are asked to arrive and leave promptly and not to congregate at the school gate or in the playground. And, school staff are being asked to wear face coverings when they come out onto the playground.

With number of COVID-19 cases rising across the region, and Merseyside having been identified by the Government as “area of concern”, these extra measures are needed to help prevent the spread of the virus.

Although children and younger people are less likely to be affected seriously by COVID-19 or may even be asymptomatic, the Council’s concern is that they could take the virus home to potentially vulnerable relatives for whom coronavirus could be very serious or even fatal.

Commenting on the measures, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Children, Schools and Safeguarding, Cllr John Joseph Kelly said: “It is important that our children get back to school and resume their education and I would like to thank all of our teachers, schools and education staff, parents and carers and the pupils themselves for working with us to achieve this as safely as possible.

“However, we know that since the Borough’s schools have re-opened, we have seen a number of class and year bubbles as well as school staff being sent home to isolate owing to positive test results or people showing coronavirus symptoms.

“I am pleased at the way each of these schools has dealt with the circumstances by following Public Health England guidelines and liaising with the Council to manage the situation.

“I hope these extra measures will help reduce the virus spreading in our school community and prevent more pupils and staff being sent home but if they don’t, we may have to contact schools about potential further measures.”

Council letters update Borough’s care sector & schools on COVID measures

Sefton Council and local authorities across the Liverpool City Region have written to the care sector including residential care home owners and managers to update them on measures required by the significant increases in COVID-19 confirmed cases across Merseyside.

Letters have also been sent to schools setting out new requirements for visiting adults. The Government has placed the wider Merseyside area on the “area of concern watch list” meaning that our testing data is being reviewed daily by the Government and Public Health England and if increases continue, restrictions could be imposed.

Therefore, to protect their vulnerable residents, Merseyside’s Councils are asking care homes to limit interactions with people from outside who may be carrying coronavirus.

Protecting our most vulnerable residents has been a priority for Sefton Council since the start of the pandemic, which is why, regrettably, we are instructing care homes to limit visits into care homes.

The following visits will continue but we will be reviewing this position on a weekly basis.

  • Essential visits by health professionals
  • Visits from families and relatives to those residents who are receiving end of life care may continue subject to robust risk assessments.
  • Garden visits subject to risk assessments.

All other non-essential visits and visits by family members into care homes are suspended until further notice.

To maintain contact with family members the Council is encouraging people to keep in touch with their loved one through digital channels such as Zoom or WhatsApp and we will support care home staff to facilitate safe contact in this way.”

Cllr Paul Cummins, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care said: “We know this will be a disappointment for care home residents and their families across the City Region and we acknowledge the hard work our Sefton Care homes have undertaken to manage the risks of an outbreak but it’s vital we take this action to prevent COVID-19 getting into care homes and spreading among residents.

“Younger people are less likely to be affected seriously by COVID-19 and are often asymptomatic and our concern is that when they visit they will unwittingly pass the virus on to their vulnerable relatives for whom coronavirus could be very serious or even fatal.”

Sefton Council’s letter also explains to care sector providers that it is working with council colleagues across City Region to ensure a coordinated response to rising numbers of Covid-19 cases. This work includes requirements around a consistent approach to the Government’s recently-introduced ‘rule of 6’.

This includes considering the benefits and risks of people returning to day services, their transport arrangements and the number of days they may be able to access services.

In the letter, Sefton Council expresses its ongoing appreciation that care providers are all doing their best to support people and keep them safe. It also highlights the need to be aware of the risks posed by groups of people coming together while also taking the needs of service uses and their families into account.

Cllr Cummins added: “With numbers of coronavirus cases rising across the region, it is important that we weigh up the significant benefits our day services can provide for users and their families with the risks of groups of them coming together to use them.

“We are working closely with our colleagues across the City Region to ensure we are taking a coordinated and proportional approach that ensures people can understand what is happening and what is not and that no-one is missing out because they are a resident of a particular area.”

Sefton Council has told care providers it will be arranging a meeting with them in the coming days to discuss the concerns and questions and they may have.

Schools

Schools have been told that from now on, all adults will be required to wear face coverings when visiting or entering the school premises and just one adult will be able to enter the premises for drop-off and pick-up.

Parents and carers dropping off or collecting their children are being asked to arrive and leave promptly and not to congregate at the school gate or in the playground. Also, school staff are being asked to wear face coverings when they come out onto the playground.

Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Children, Schools and Safeguarding, Cllr John Joseph Kelly said: “It is important that our children get back to school and resume their education and I would like to thank all of our teachers, schools and education staff, parents and carers and the pupils themselves for working with us to achieve this as safely as possible.

“However, we know that since the Borough’s schools have re-opened, we have seen a number of class and year bubbles as well as school staff being sent home to isolate owing to positive test results or people showing coronavirus symptoms.

“I am pleased at the way each of these schools has dealt with the circumstances by following Public Health England guidelines and liaising with the Council to manage the situation.

“With number of COVID-19 cases rising across the region and Merseyside having been identified by the Government as “area of concern” we now need to introduce these extra measures to help prevent the spread of the virus.

“We know that children and younger people are less likely to be affected seriously by COVID-19 or may even be asymptomatic but the concern is that they could take the virus home to potentially vulnerable relatives for whom coronavirus could be very serious or even fatal.”

In the letter to schools, the Council also says that further new measure maybe necessary in the future.

Cllr Kelly added: “I hope these extra measures will help reduce the virus spreading in our school community and prevent more pupils and staff being sent home but if they don’t, we may have to contact schools about potential further measures.”

Council working with HSE to make sure Sefton businesses are COVID-secure

Sefton Council has joined forces with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to build upon the work that has already been done to make sure the Borough’s businesses are COVID-secure.

From Monday, to help tackle the spread of coronavirus spot checks will be carried out on businesses in the Borough to ensure they are managing their COVID-19 response and control measures in line with current government guidelines.

Checks

The HSE will be supporting the Council’s Environmental Health enforcement teams’ local efforts to help protect staff, customers and visitors from infection. Checks, in the form of phone calls and follow-up visits will focus on businesses in the hospitality, beauty & hairdressing and the warehousing sectors where the Council has responsibility for the enforcement of health and safety legislation.

During the checks, advice and guidance to manage risk and protect workers, customers and visitors will be provided. Where businesses are not managing, immediate action including enforcement notices and stopping certain work practices until they are made safe, could be taken. Businesses that fail or refuse to comply could face prosecution.

Managing risks

Cllr Paulette Lappin Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Regulatory, Compliance and Corporate Services said: “We are talking to local businesses and inspecting sites across Sefton to understand how they are managing risks in line with their specific business activity.

“Becoming COVID-secure is a legal duty and needs to be the priority and we know the vast majority of our local businesses are trying hard to get this right by putting the necessary measure in place.

“We appreciate the efforts business owners and managers are making and have undertaken this work with the HSE to provide any further advice and support they may need.”

Adequate cleaning

HSE and local authority inspectors report they have been finding some common issues across a range of sectors. These include failing to provide arrangements for monitoring, supervising and maintaining social distancing, and failing to introduce an adequate cleaning regime particularly at busy times of the day. Bosses are being encouraged to work with their employees when implementing changes, to help increase confidence with workers, customers and the local community.

Cllr Lappin continued: “All businesses of any size, in any sector can receive an unannounced check to ensure they are COVID-secure although we will be focusing on the sectors we think will be most likely to benefit from this help.

“Making sure that businesses have measures in place to manage the risks and prevent the spread of coronavirus will help reduce the chances of a second local lockdown and the harmful effect that will have on Sefton’s economy.”

Visit the Government’s latest information and guidance for business.

Liverpool City Region and Cheshire Leaders Call for Urgent Deployment of Testing Capacity

Sefton Council leader Cllr Ian Maher today joined The Metro Mayor of Liverpool City Region and the Leaders of four Cheshire Local Authorities in calling on the Government to urgently deploy more Covid-19 testing capacity in the region.

Merseyside was last week identified by the Government as an ‘area of concern’, with Covid-19 cases rising across the region.

An immediate increase in testing capacity is now urgently needed to protect the most vulnerable members of the community and avoid further local lockdowns, say the Leaders and Mayor.

Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of Liverpool City Region said: “Today we have come together to speak with one voice and urge the Government to immediately deploy additional testing capacity in our region.

“The North West currently has 24% of England’s Covid-19 cases but only around 15% of the national testing capacity.

“This cannot be right and is hampering our effort to protect the most vulnerable in our communities and avoid further, more drastic and damaging lockdown measures.

“My colleagues and I are fully committed to working in partnership with national government, but we need the right support and resource to help us at a regional level.

“We hope for an immediate, positive response from Government, which is fundamental to us getting the virus under control in our region.”

In addition to Sefton’s Cllr Maher other Liverpool City Region leaders, Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, Cllr Louise Gittins, Leader, Cheshire West and Chester Council, Cllr Sam Corcoran, Leader, Cheshire East Council; Cllr Rob Polhill, Leader, Halton Borough Council and Cllr Russ Bowden, Leader, Warrington Borough Council.

 

Sefton’s Public Health Director stresses coronavirus test are only for people with symptoms

With a recent survey of the country’s coronavirus testing sites showing a quarter of people turning up for tests did not have symptoms, Sefton’s Director of Public Health Margaret Jones has reminded residents they should only book a test of they have symptoms.

Mrs Jones said: “Testing is a crucial tool in helping prevent the spread of COVID-19 but with the capacity of labs to process tests currently facing an enormous challenge, people should not book a test unless they have symptoms or have not been advised to take a test by a doctor or a public health professional.

“People who do have any of the coronavirus symptoms, which are a high temperature, a persistent new cough or a loss of taste or smell must isolate immediately for 10 days and must stay isolated even if they are waiting test appointment at a nearby location to become available.

“The rest of their household should self-isolate with them while they wait for the results but if they don’t have symptoms, they shouldn’t get a test.

“I know it is frustrating but it is the same for all of us and it’s the best way of making sure we don’t pass on the virus to potentially vulnerable friends and loved ones for whom coronavirus could be very serious or even fatal.”

Social distancing, using face masks and coverings where required and when social distancing is not possible and frequent and thorough handwashing are also vital tools in helping prevent the spread of the virus added Mrs Jones.

She continued: “Additionally, anyone identified as a contact of a positive case through Test and Trace must isolate for the full 14 days even if for some reason they get a negative test during that period. But once again, those people should only book a test if they develop a high temperature, a new continuous cough or they lose their sense of taste or smell.”

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