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Supermarket safety message from Sefton Council’s Public Health Director

Sefton Council’s Director of Public Health Margaret Jones, has written to managers of the Borough’s supermarkets to support their efforts to keep customers and staff safe from COVID-19.

In her letter, Mrs Jones thanks them for their tireless work and for the measures stores are taking to ensure COVID safe practices are followed by members of the public. These include ensuring all staff and customers wear a face covering unless medically exempt, that people shop on their own where possible and that they maintain distancing in store.

Other measures include controlling numbers in the store, layouts, signs and floor markings to promote social distancing, providing hand sanitizer and the facilities to disinfect shopping trollies and baskets and frequent disinfection of regularly-touched surfaces.

SMART test centres

Margaret Jones at Sefton's Aintree SMART testing site
Director of Public Health, Margaret Jones, at Sefton’s Aintree SMART testing site.

Mrs Jones also reminds store managers that their staff can use Sefton Council’s SMART test centres at Bootle Leisure Centre, Aintree Race Course and Splash World in Southport.

The Lateral Flow tests available at the sites are for people without coronavirus symptoms. The results tell people whether they are unknowingly carrying the COVID-19 virus and can help prevent them from spreading it accidentally to customers, colleagues and family members who may be vulnerable. Results can come through in as little as 30 minutes.

This week, the Council has extended opening hours at its three test sites to 8am to 8pm to make it easier for people who are working to go along for a test. No appointments are necessary. It is recommended that those who are working and having to go out and mix with others should get tested every five days.

People wanting a test can check on the live Find a Test map to see if the sites are busy and how long they might have to wait.

Essential purposes

Because the Government’s latest regulations say that people in England must ‘stay at home’ except for essential purposes, only key workers, including those who work in the shops and supermarkets that are open and those with caring commitments during the lockdown should now go for a SMART test. Everyone else should be staying at home, not mixing with others outside our household or bubble, and only going out for local exercise and to shop for essentials. This means we don’t currently need a SMART test unless there are specific circumstances.

Margaret Jones said:

“In my role as a Director of Public Health and as a supermarket user, I really do appreciate the efforts that the stores and their staff are making to enable us to buy the essential supplies we need and keep us safe.

“It is important we all play our part by following the guidance that’s in place for our own safety and respecting that supermarket staff are just doing their job when they ask us to comply.

“And, anyone who is having to go out to work can and should go to get tested and regularly re-tested at our three SMART test sites, from 8am to 8pm seven days a week.”

She finishes her letter with a reminder that anyone showing coronavirus symptoms – a fever, a new continuous cough or a loss of taste or smell should self-isolate and book a test straight away by visiting  or by calling 119.


Longer opening hours will make it easier for Sefton’s key workers and carers to get tested

Covid SMART test site in Sefton
Covid SMART test site staff in Sefton

From Wednesday 20th January, Sefton Council is extending the opening hours of its three SMART coronavirus test sites to 8am to 8pm.

SMART coronavirus testing for people with NO symptoms is now focused on key workers and those with caring commitments. The longer opening hours will make it easier for those people to attend the walk-through sites, at Bootle Leisure Centre, Splash World in Southport and Aintree Racecourse.

Highest risk

Aimed to protect those at highest risk, SMART testing will find people who do not have symptoms but are infected by the virus. This will help prevent them unknowingly passing it on which will, in turn, reduce transmission across the local community.

People who should be attending for tests and regular re-tests include taxi drivers and public transport workers, essential retail workers, paid or unpaid carers, delivery drivers, childcare providers, people in the blue light services, pharmacists and postal workers.


It is recommended that people who do have to continue mixing with others during lockdown, and do not have symptoms, get a SMART test around twice a week. The Lateral Flow Tests used can provide a result in as little as 30 minutes.

People wanting a test can check on the live Find a Test map to see if the sites are busy and how long you might have to wait.

Anyone whose SMART test result is positive is now required by law to self-isolate for 10 days, in line with national regulations.

A follow-up PCR test to confirm the positive result is no longer required.

NHS guidance on how to self-isolate.

Vital services

Sefton Council Leader, Cllr Ian Maher said: “While it is important that the majority of us follow the Government’s regulations by staying at home, we must also recognise the important work of those people across our Borough who are still going out to work and providing vital services, supporting our local communities and protecting the most vulnerable.

“It is only right then that we do what we can to support those people and making it easier for them to go for a SMART test is just one way of achieving that.”

Opening at 8am will involve some test centre staff arriving an hour earlier, at 7am, so they can be tested before starting work. Part of the preparations meant ensuring those who use public transport could get there on time and that those working until 8pm can get home after they finish.

Stay at home

Cllr Ian Maher added: “While people in these groups are out working in these vital roles, it’s important that the rest of us stay at home, that we don’t mix with others outside our household or bubble, and that we only go out for local exercise and to shop for essentials.

“And this means we won’t need a SMART test unless there are specific circumstances.”

While SMART testing is for people who do not have symptoms, anyone who develops a high temperature, a new continuous cough or who loses their sense of taste or smell, should immediately arrange to get a coronavirus test by visiting or calling 119.


Sefton Council aiming to help take the gloom out of Blue Monday

Ainsdale Beach
Spars of wood left from ship wrecks on Ainsdale Beach

Although this Monday, the third in January, has been dubbed 2021’s Blue Monday, Sefton Council is highlighting a few way people can beat the blues.

Blue Monday is rumoured to have got its name owing to the combination of post-Christmas blues, cold weather, dark nights and the arrival of the month’s bills. Others claim it was a stunt by a travel company to encourage people to look ahead and book a holiday.

Whatever its origins, ongoing national lockdown restrictions means this year’s Blue Monday could be seen as bluer than usual, which is why Sefton Council wants to remind people across the Borough of some things that will help cheer them up.

Positive effect

Keeping active can have a positive effect on our physical and mental wellbeing and Active Sefton is promoting the free ‘MOVE-IT’ programme.

Consisting of up to six sessions, ‘MOVE-it’ is designed to help families to adopt a healthy lifestyle through offering healthy eating advice along with ideas and ways to increase physical activity targeted at children in different age groups, from 5 to 16.

More information is available at

Games and circuits

Active Sefton is also supporting a range of activities such as free, games and circuits YouTube workouts to help children. And for those adults who are looking to get healthy, there’s also 10 minute Abs workout, plus yoga, kettlebell and HIIT workouts led by the Active Sefton Team. Details are at

People can find about these and other activities by following Active Sefton on social media or visiting

Incredible spaces

The Council’s Green Sefton teams is also reminding people across the Borough that they have some incredible spaces on their doorsteps where they can get outdoors for their daily local exercise and fresh air. Sefton residents can find out more about what their Borough has to offer at

Additionally, if people find that Monday is blue because they are frustrated or lonely or are worried about their health finances and other aspect of their lives, the Council has pulled together a directory of services available to residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. These can be found at

Vaccine volunteers

For those people who want to help take the blues out of others’ Mondays and every day, Sefton Council for Voluntary Service (CVS) is currently supporting the recruitment of volunteers for the NHS COVID-19 Vaccine Team. Roles include welcoming patients, marshalling at test venues, logistical support and help in recovery areas. To find out what they can do, people should visit


Cllr Ian Moncur, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing said: “This is a time of year when some people can feel at a low point and the lockdown isn’t helping but we want to ensure people know that the Council is there to provide support as well as inspiration for things we can all do to boost our physical and mental health while following the restrictions.

“And, looking to the future, if we all stick to the requirements to minimise transmission of the COVID-19 virus and we take the opportunity to get vaccinated when we’re offered it, we will hopefully be seeing some aspects of all our lives returning to some level of normality over the coming weeks and months.

“By looking after ourselves and each other, we can get from a Blue Monday to Terrific Tuesdays, Wonderful Wednesdays, Thrilling Thursdays Fab Fridays and Super Saturdays and Sundays.”

People can also find information and support on maintaining their mental and physical health  on the Sefton Directory.

Find out how lockdown is affecting Sefton Council services.

Lockdown means SMART testing for people with NO coronavirus symptoms now focused on key workers who HAVE to go out to work.

Because the Government’s latest regulations say that people in England must ‘stay at home’ except for essential purposes, only key workers and those with caring commitments during the lockdown should now go for a SMART test.

This includes people who

  • work in supermarkets or those shops that can open;
  • work in in schools or caring environments where on-site testing is not taking place;
  • are unpaid carers and volunteers;
  • are in other public-facing roles.

Walk-through SMART COVID-19 testing for people in those groups is now taking place 8am to 8pm, no appointment necessary, at:

  • Splash World in Southport*
  • Bootle Leisure Centre
  • Aintree Racecourse

*Please use rear car park of Dunes/Splashworld, accessible from the Esplanade, opposite the Lifeboat Station.

Check on the live Find a Test map to see if the sites are busy and how long you might have to wait.

Anyone whose SMART test result is positive is now required by law to self-isolate for 10 days, in line with national regulations.

A follow-up PCR test to confirm the positive result is no longer required.

Visit our Help with Self-Isolating pages.

Everyone else

Everyone else should be staying at home, not mixing with others outside our household or bubble, and only going out for local exercise and to shop for essentials, which means we don’t currently need a SMART test unless there are specific circumstances.

Find out what you can and cannot do under the Government’s latest regulations. 

People with symptoms 

Anyone showing any of the symptoms of

  • a new continuous cough
  • a fever
  • a loss of/ change in smell or taste

should immediately arrange to get a coronavirus test by visiting or calling 119

You should also get a test if you have been asked to get tested by

  • NHS Test and Trace
  • Local Council

Find out more about the latest regulation from the Council website.

Help to shape the future of your local health service in Southport and Formby

Health leaders in Southport, Formby and West Lancashire are inviting people to share their views and experiences of local healthcare by getting involved with Shaping Care Together, a programme of work designed to improve hospital services.

Like NHS services across the country, our local hospitals face significant challenges. Some have been with us for years while the urgency of others has been made clear during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Trish Armstrong-Child, Chief Executive of Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust, said: “We need to redefine how we provide hospital services, help people use them only when they need them, and ensure those services are safe, sustainable and high quality.

“Shaping Care Together aims to do just that – shape, develop and improve future services for everyone by listening to the patients, carers and staff who use and deliver them.

“We need to build on what we have in place now, understand what works well and how things can be made better.”

Shaping Care Together will explore how health and care services are accessible, effective and operated by skilled staff to meet everyone’s needs. Care should be integrated with other services so that patients are supported by the services they need as quickly and safely as possible.

Views are being sought on what currently works well at Southport and Ormskirk hospitals as well as in primary and community healthcare services and in particular, what steps should be taken to improve the following:

  • frail and elderly care
  • when you have an urgent or emergency care need
  • services for children including those who have complex needs
  • services for women who are pregnant and for the new-born
  • gynaecology – dealing with women’s reproductive system
  • sexual health services for all genders
  • planned care, such as follow-up outpatient and/or subsequent admissions as part of ongoing treatment.

Despite the challenges our hospitals face, local access to care has been improved by providing services in the community during the evenings and at weekends.

Dr Rob Caudwell, Chair of NHS Southport and Formby Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), added: “We need to listen to local people to understand how we commission NHS health and care services and make sure that they meet patient needs. Local initiatives have been introduced which are helping to care for people at home and thereby avoiding admissions to hospital. For example, a new medical response car with a paramedic on board is being trialled in Southport, which has already started to have a beneficial impact on patient satisfaction, hospital admissions and length of hospital stay. We want to hear about how local services at the hospital and across health organisations are working and what can be improved.”

Dr Peter Gregory, local GP and chair of the West Lancashire CCG said: “It is vital that we build on the strong foundations that are already in place across our system. West Lancashire has some great examples of how coordinated care wraps around a patient in a community setting. However, we understand from previous conversations with our local residents that both the access and quality of primary, community and hospital services is hugely important, and this is something we should always strive to improve. As part of this listening exercise, we therefore welcome views from residents to share their experiences of using various local services”.

Shaping Care Together is led by NHS Southport and Formby CCG NHS West Lancashire CCG and Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust and is the first stage of a process to understand patient experience and views before any proposals to solve the challenges faced are considered.

This programme will last throughout 2021 and there will be many opportunities for local people to have their say. It is important to stress that no decisions have been made and we are seeking views which will inform our thinking and proposals for change.

Over the coming months there will be lots of different ways for people to get involved but first views can be shared on the dedicated website: 

People who do not feel comfortable using the internet can call 01695 588025 to receive paper copies of a questionnaire.

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