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New grant for Sefton businesses now available as coronavirus restrictions ease

A one-off financial support package, known as the Restart Grant, is now available to support Sefton businesses as they reopen in line with the easing of national coronavirus restrictions.

Restart Grants of between £2,667 and £18,000 are available for businesses who are liable for Business Rates. Grant payments will be based on the rateable value of the property and the sector which the business operates in.

The application window for Sefton businesses will open on Monday 12th April 2021 and the deadline for applications to be submitted is Wednesday 30th June 2021.

Full details of eligibility and how to apply can be found on the Sefton Council website, along with links to guides for businesses to support their safe reopening.

Restart grant supporting businesses to reopen safelyBusinesses are advised to read the eligibility criteria, and to familiarise themselves with the new Subsidy Allowance rules, before completing an online application.

This Government requires additional information from businesses than previous grant applications and requires the Council to undertake extensive pre-payment verification checks. Consequently, it is estimated that it will take 4-6 weeks from an application being received to payment being issued to eligible businesses.

Every effort will be made to make payment earlier. Businesses are asked not to request progress updates as this will slow down the issuing of grant payments. Progress updates will be posted on the Council’s website and social media.

The new national grant will replace the previous Local Restrictions Support Grant. The deadline to submit new applications to the Local Restrictions Support Grant is Monday 31st May 2021 for the period between 16th February and 31st March 2021. 

‘Stay vigilant and get your second vaccine dose,’ says Sefton’s Director of Public Health

Margaret Jones, Sefton Council’s Director of Public Health has joined her colleagues from across Cheshire and Merseyside in urging people to attend appointments for their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

More than 1.4 million vaccines have already been administered in Cheshire and Merseyside with around 95 per cent of over 70s now having received their first dose. But as second dose appointments gather pace, the region’s Directors of Public Health, including Margaret are reminded people they only have maximum protection if they have both doses.

Maximum protection

She said: “I am pleased that across our region so many people, including me, have already had a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“But I can confirm that I will definitely be attending my appointment for a second dose because it is only with two doses that we have maximum protection.

“In the meantime, because I could still pick up and pass on the virus, I will be continuing to follow the guidance on distancing, wearing face covering and washing my hands as well as sticking to the Government’s lockdown regulations.”

No hesitation

Addressing concerns people may have about the AstraZeneca vaccine, Mrs Jones said: “I had the AstraZeneca vaccine with no noticeable side-effects and will have absolutely no hesitation in going to get the protection a second dose will provide. I would go tomorrow, although in fact my follow up appointment is not until June.

“I am also pleased to see that the latest YouGov survey shows that most people in the UK agree with me with 75 per cent of British respondents saying they trust the AstraZeneca jab.”

This week, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which regulates medicines in the UK, said the overall risk of developing blood clots after the AstraZeneca vaccination is just 4 in a million.

The MHRA also said vaccines have already saved thousands of lives and are the best way to protect people from COVID-19.

Immune response

Directors of Public Health in Cheshire and Merseyside confirmed some people may have experienced mild side-effects with the first dose of either vaccine but said this is a sign that it is working and triggering their immune response. And they say the possibility of feeling unwell after the second dose is much less common.

Ian Ashworth, Chair of the Cheshire and Merseyside Directors of Public Health Board and Director of Public Health for Cheshire West and Chester said: “The first dose of the vaccine offers good levels of protection, but to get maximum protection everyone will need a second dose. Even if you are vaccinated, it is essential to keep washing your hands, wearing a mask when needed and keeping your distance. Everyone has made huge sacrifices to bring the case numbers down and we want to ensure we don’t see any further rises in the future.”

The Government has reported that there will be a significant reduction in weekly vaccine supply from the beginning of April for a four-week period. The focus during this period will be on ensuring second doses of the vaccine are delivered and that no one is left behind; teams across the region are looking at innovative schemes to take the vaccine to those individuals and communities that have lower uptake of the vaccine.

Second dose

It is therefore even more important that people aged 50 and above, health and care workers, people with an underlying health condition that puts them at greater risk, and anyone called for a second dose take up the offer now.

The NHS has been inviting those eligible for a jab by letter and text with GPs also calling some patients.

Text invitations appear as an alert from ‘NHSvaccine’ and letters include a web link to click and reserve an appointment at one of more than 300 large-scale vaccination centres or pharmacies across England.

Home tests

The Directors of Public Health also urged people to continue getting tested as restrictions are eased, no matter what their vaccine status, to protect themselves and their loved ones.

Find out more about Home Testing and how to obtain Home Test Kits.

Anyone developing coronavirus symptoms should still self-isolate and immediately book a PCR test by calling 119 or visiting www.nhs.uk/coronavirus. Eligible people who test positive are entitled to the £500 Test and Trace Support Payment in the same way as a regular swab test through NHS Test and Trace.

HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, 1921 – 2021

Image of HRH Duke of Edinburgh to commemorate his passing
Image of HRH Duke of Edinburgh to commemorate his passing

Sefton Council has expressed great sadness at death of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. As a mark of respect, all flags at Council buildings are lowered to half-mast as Sefton pays tribute to The Duke of Edinburgh.

Mayor of Sefton, Cllr June Burns said: “Sefton Council sends its deepest condolences to Her Majesty The Queen following the passing of HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

“We can remember the Duke of Edinburgh fondly and look back at the many occasions he visited our wonderful borough with Her Majesty The Queen. From their early visits to Bootle and Crosby in October 1954, to a stop off in Southport and Altcar Training Camp in 1985; I’m sure so many people will remember these visits to Sefton with great fondness and contentment.

“Whilst national restrictions remain in place we would ask Sefton Residents to stay safe by laying floral tributes at home, or in their own gardens during this time.”

An online book of condolence has been set up at royal.uk

Sefton Council is following palace guidance that rather than flowers, the Royal Family would prefer charity donations to one of the Duke of Edinburgh’s many patronages.

Southport Air Show Cancellation

The 2021 Southport Air Show will not take place this year due to continued uncertainty over large scale events.

Anyone who has already purchased a ticket for the show, which was due to take place in July, will automatically receive a full refund within ten working days.

Sefton Council has made the difficult decision to cancel the popular Southport Air Show, despite months of hard work and planning by the authority’s Tourism team and partners.

While this decision has not been taken lightly, we know that thousands of people visit to see our air show and Sefton Council continues to put the safety and wellbeing of our communities and visitors first throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Owing to the large scale of planning and preparations required for an event as large as Southport Air Show, work began in late 2020 with the aim of delivering the spectacular and jaw dropping weekend of aerial displays that is an icon of Southport’s events calendar.

A number of factors have been considered in the decision, including safety of visitors and staff as well as the availability and quality of aircraft available.

A spokesperson for Sefton Council said: “The decision to cancel The Air Show has not been taken lightly.

“Keeping our visitors, communities, staff and partners safe remains paramount and is just one of a number of factors being at the forefront of this decision.

“At this time there is no certainty that the event would be allowed to take place on the scale that such an iconic event deserves.

“We have also taken the decision to delay the Southport Food & Drink Festival until later this year and will confirm a new date as soon as we can.

“While this is disappointing news to us all, we continue to do everything we can to bring incredible and amazing events back to our borough and we are working hard towards hosting the British Musical Fireworks Championship (September 24 to September 26) and a rearranged Southport Food and Drink Festival at Victoria Park, Southport.”

Southport and Sefton has 22 miles of coastline, with cultural highlights that include Anthony Gormley’s Another Place, the most independent eateries and restaurants outside London, plus a brand new food and drink market and lots of outdoor space for you to enjoy safely this summer.

To find out more about visiting Southport or Visit Southport’s current situation with coronavirus (Covid-19) visit www.visitsouthport.com

Twice-weekly rapid COVID test kits available from Friday 9th April

Photo of Home Testing Kit components
Home Testing Kit

From Friday 9th April, people in England will be able to access twice-weekly rapid tests for coronavirus.

Margaret Jones, Sefton Council’s Director of Public Health is encouraging everyone who is going to a work environment or who will be returning to their workplace to take up this offer.

Prevent the spread

She said: “Rapid tests are tests for people without the coronavirus symptoms of a new persistent cough, a high temperature or a loss of sense of taste or smell and they usually provide a result in around 30 minutes.

“One in three people with coronavirus show no symptoms, which means they can accidentally spread it without knowing.

“Taking a rapid testing twice a week will find those invisible cases and help prevent the spread of infection.”

Checking

Rapid coronavirus testing involves taking a throat & nasal swab, dropping the sample into the container supplied and then checking the result after 20 to 30 minutes.

Rapid test kits can be collected from Bootle Town Hall and Splash World in Southport from 8am-8pm seven days a week. No appointments are needed.

Kits can also be collected from walk-through Local Test Centres opposite Bootle Town Hall and at Crosby Library Car Park, Netherton Activity Centre and Southport Town Hall between 2.30pm and 8pm, seven days a week. No appointments are needed.

Kits an also be ordered online.

Assisted testing

People can also choose to have assisted testing at one of Sefton’s SMART test sites, which are also open 8am to 8pm seven days a week and located at Bootle Leisure Centre, Splash World in Southport and at Aintree Racecourse although this centre is closed and will re-open on Monday 12th April.

Find out more about testing in Sefton. 

Positive

Anyone who gets a positive result from a rapid test must self-isolate for 10 days and immediately book a PCR test by calling 119 or visiting www.nhs.uk/coronavirus .

Eligible people who test positive are entitled to the £500 Test and Trace Support Payment in the same way as a regular swab test through NHS Test and Trace.

Vaccinations

As well as getting regular rapid tests Margaret Jones is encouraging anyone who is offered a vaccination to go along and get a jab to protect themselves and those around them.

She said: “Tens of thousands of people across Sefton, including me, have already had their first vaccination and many will have had their second too, but it is important that all of us take the opportunity to get our jab when it is offered.

“Infection rates in Sefton have dropped significantly but vaccination is the best way for to protect ourselves and those around us and underpins our way out of lockdown and a return to the more normal ways of life we all want to see.”

Find out more about vaccinations and who is eligible for a jab.   

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