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New, smart COVID testing centre for Bootle’s Strand

Sefton Council is moving its RAPID coronavirus testing centre for people with no symptoms from Bootle Leisure Centre to Bootle’s Strand shopping centre.

From 9am on Saturday 15th May, people without COVID-19 symptoms will be able to get a test, with a result in as little as 30 minutes, at the town centre location.

Specially adapted

Bootle Strand owner, Sefton Council, has specially adapted the former H Samuel unit in the Strand for people to come along and take a RAPID test safely. It will be open seven days a week.

The Strand site replaces the Bootle Leisure Test Centre, which will close at 5pm on Friday 14th May.

Tell-tale symptoms

Cllr Ian Maher, Leader of Sefton Council, said: “Around one third of people with coronavirus do not show any of the tell-tale symptoms so by taking regular rapid tests, we can check if we’re one of these asymptomatic carriers to help make sure we don’t pass on the virus accidentally.

“I’m glad that we can now provide the facility where people can take those rapid tests and collect free home testing kits at this convenient Bootle town centre location.”

Sefton’s other RAPID test site is at Southport’s Splash World.

Results

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

As well as both RAPID testing sites, kits are available from any Sefton pharmacy and between 2.30pm and 8pm, seven days a week from the Borough’s walk-through Local Test Centres. These are located opposite Bootle Town Hall and at Crosby Library Car Park, Netherton Activity Centre and Southport Town Hall and are open from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week.

Relaxed

Cllr Maher added: “Now that lockdown restrictions are being relaxed and more people are going out to their workplaces, going for a drink or meal at a pub or restaurant or meeting up with friends and family outside, taking regular rapid tests is increasingly important to keeping down the spread of COVID.

“Any of us who is regularly out and coming into regular contact with others needs to be taking a RAPID test as often as twice a week.”

Assisted

People who aren’t confident about taking a rapid test at home can choose to go for an assisted test at Sefton’s new Bootle Strand or Southport Splash World test sites.

Cllr Maher continued: “RAPID tests will help to finding those of us who do not show the key coronavirus symptoms of a new persistent cough, a high temperature or a loss of sense of taste or smell.

“But it is still vital that anyone who does develop these symptoms or does get a positive test self-isolates for 10 days and immediately books a PCR test by visiting www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or phoning 119.”

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.

Find out more about testing and self-isolating in Sefton. 

Ninety-seven per-cent of households respond to Census 2021

The response to Census 2021 has exceeded all expectations, with 97 per cent of households across England and Wales making sure they count when it comes to local services like school places, GP surgeries and hospital beds. This is above the pre-census target of 94 per cent, while all local authorities have seen over 90 per cent of households respond, exceeding an 80 per cent target.

Important insight

Cllr Ian Maher, Leader of Sefton Council, said: “Thank you to those who have completed their questionnaire. The census provides an important insight into our community and it is great to see that so many Sefton residents have taken part. This will ensure going forward we understand the needs of our community.”

“It is important that those who are eligible, and haven’t already completed a questionnaire do so, or they could face a £1,000 fine if they do not complete an online form by the 17th May.”

Amazing response

Deputy National Statistician Iain Bell, from The Office for National Statistics said: “We’ve had an amazing response to Census 2021. Those who have taken part have done so to ensure they are represented for their local area.”

“ I’d like to thank everyone who has filled out their form so far as well as all the community groups, organisations and local authorities who have helped us make this census a success.”

Time running out

Although Census Day – Sunday 21 March 2021 – has been and gone it is not too late to complete the online questionnaire. It only takes around 10 minutes per person. Time is running out as this online option will close on 17 May. After this only paper questionnaires will be available. If you have lost the letter or have a second address you have not visited, go to http://www.census.gov.uk to request an online completion code for your address via SMS text message.

Local census support centres have now closed but help and paper questionnaires are still available through the census contact centre on freephone 0800 141 2021 in England and 0800 169 2021 in Wales.

Fines

If people refuse to take part, they could be taken to court and issued with a £1,000 fine and criminal record. The census non-compliance operation will begin on May 25.

Now the main census field operation has ended, around 350,000 households across England and Wales are being invited to take part in the Census Coverage Survey (CCS). This short, separate, interviewer-led survey will enable the ONS to get a final view of the response rates.

Since 4th May , a sample of households have been receiving a card through the post asking them to take part in the CCS. After that, an interviewer, following the government’s COVID-19 guidelines, will visit the address and fill in the questionnaire on the doorstep. The interviewer will be able to show an ID badge on a Census 2021 branded lanyard. For more information on the CCS visit Census Coverage Survey – Census 2021.

Council leader responds to Borough’s Indian COVID-19 variant links

Responding to news that the Indian COVID variant, which has been classified by Public Health England as a ‘variant of concern’, has been linked with coronavirus cases in the Borough, Sefton Council Leader Cllr Ian Maher said:

“We understand that while it has been detected locally, this variant does not seem to affect people more seriously or inhibit the effectiveness of the vaccines currently being rolled out across the UK.

“Also, it doesn’t appear to be more infectious than the Kent variant, which is now the dominant strain in Britain.

“Sefton Council will be working closely with Public Health England and other partners to provide all the local knowledge and expertise it can to support any work that is required to identify and contain the variant.”

Vaccination, testing and following rules

Cllr Maher continued: “Vaccination, testing and all of us following the rules on distancing, face-covering and handwashing are all still key to preventing the spread of COVID.

“It is vital that people go along to get their first and second vaccination jabs when they are offered them. You can now get the COVID-19 vaccine if you’re aged 40 or over or if your 40th birthday is between now and 1st July. You can book your appointment online or by phone.

“And, whether vaccinated or not, it’s still important that those of us going to work or out and about regularly continue to take the rapid tests, which are free and widely available across the Borough, twice a week.”

Cllr Maher went on to add that anyone with the coronavirus symptoms of a new persistent cough, a high temperature or a loss of sense of taste or smell, should self-isolate immediately and book a PCR test by calling 119 or visiting www.nhs.uk/coronavirus.

Face coverings

With some pupil groups having been sent home from Sefton schools this week, Cllr Maher also stressed the importance of pupils and staff in secondary schools wearing face covering in schools.

Cllr Maher continued: “As well as in secondary schools, the rest of us need to remember the need to wear face coverings when we go into shops and other locations and use public transport.

“We all need to be taking care in inside spaces and sticking closely to the 2m distancing to protect ourselves and those around us including our friends and family, who may be vulnerable to the serious effects of COVID-19.”

Sefton has two SMART test sites for people without symptoms, at Bootle Leisure Centre and at Splash World in Southport which are open 8am to 8pm seven days a week.

Home testing

Rapid home 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.

Rapid tests for people without coronavirus symptoms usually provide a result in around 30 minutes. Rapid testing involves taking a throat & nasal swab, dropping the sample into the container supplied and then checking the result after 20 to 30 minutes.

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

Pharmacies

They are available from all Sefton’s pharmacies and they can be ordered online at www.gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests

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 and at Splash World in Southport.

Anyone who gets a positive result from a rapid test can book a PCR test by calling 119 or visiting www.nhs.uk/coronavirus.

Council celebrates success of COVID-safe election procedures

Election Counting at Aintree Racecourse's Equestrian Centre
Election Counting at Aintree Racecourse’s Equestrian Centre

Sefton Council has declared its revised, COVID-safe arrangements for the local election a success.

To ensure safety at the Borough’s 132 polling stations and for everyone involved in counting the votes, the Council put a wide range of measure in place.

Postal votes

This included publicising postal votes which resulted in an extra 9,000-plus local residents signing up. This meant that over 28% of those eligible to vote in Sefton were able to do so without needing to visit a polling station.

Numbers signing up for proxy voting so that someone else could attend a polling station for them were also up on previous years.

On election day itself, Sefton Council made sure there were extra staff on hand to help with social distancing and mask wearing. Voters were also asked to bring their own pen or pencil and be prepared for a short wait at busy times.

After polling

After polling closed at 10pm on Thursday evening, over 69,000 ballots in 132 ballot boxes were delivered to the Equestrian Centre at Aintree Racecourse for counting to begin the next day.

Votes were counted at over 132 spaced work stations arranged across the Equestrian Centre in line with a requirement for staff to be two metres apart. All Sefton Council staff working on the count were required to take a rapid COVID test before attending and wore masks. Everyone else attending was also asked to follow these measures.

To help everyone present follow the results, they were displayed on two large screens as well as being added promptly to the Council’s website.

Safety key

Dwayne Johnson, Sefton Council’s Chief Executive and its Returning Officer said: “With COVID-19 safety measures still being key, we knew we would have to revise our arrangements for the whole elections process this year.

“Paramount to all the arrangements was our commitment to ensuring the democratic process went ahead in a way that was safe for everyone involved, which took a lot of detailed planning.

“I would also like to thank everyone who visited a polling station to vote, for following the requirements, even though they sometimes meant voting took a little longer. And a big thanks to all the staff who worked at those polling stations from 7am to 10pm on Thursday.

First time

Mr Johnson explained that, due to COVID, all the Borough’s ballot papers were counted in one place for the first time.

He said: “The logistics of gathering, verifying and counting all Sefton’s ballots in one place were challenging but I am pleased at how well it went, and I would like to thank all the Sefton Council teams involved in making the process successful and safe.

“Although it has been a challenge, I think we have also learnt a lot of useful lessons, some of which we will be able to use to ensure the continued smooth running of the election process in future years.”

Find out more about elections in Sefton.

Sefton Council working to tackle recent rise in COVID cases

Sefton Council is working with the national Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) and Public Health England (PHE) in response to recent COVID-19 outbreaks in the Central Sefton area.

The Council and its partners are investigating these outbreaks and tracing any contacts of the confirmed cases. There will also be targeted local publicity providing details of what people can expect when taking a test as well as information and advice on self-isolation.

Responding to the news, Sefton Council Leader, Cllr Ian Maher, said: “Once again we have joined forces with DHSC and PHE to respond promptly to a localised outbreak of infections.

“I am confident that our local communities, as they have throughout the pandemic, will remain vigilant, will get tested if they show any Covid symptoms and will self isolate so that infections can be identified, traced and contained before they spread any further.

“This is a fast-moving situation and we will, of course, provide more information and updates to our local communities as soon as we’re able to.”

People across Sefton are being reminded of the need to continue taking every precaution, getting tested and registering the results. Health leaders are also highlighting the need for anyone with coronavirus symptoms of a new, persistent cough, a fever or loss of taste or smell to self-isolate and book a PCR test by calling 119 or visiting www.nhs.uk/coronavirus.

For anyone displaying Covid-19 symptoms – a new persistent cough, a high temperature or a loss of sense of taste or smell – there will be mobile (drive through) test sites at various locations throughout the borough. These can be booked by calling 119 or visiting www.nhs.uk/coronavirus .

There are also four local walk-through test centres, open 8am to 8pm every day, for people who do not have a car and who should not travel by public transport.

They are at:

  • Bootle Town Hall, L20 7AA
  • Crosby Library Car Park, Haigh Road, L22 OLQ
  • Netherton Activity Centre, Glovers Land, L30 3TL
  • Southport Town Hall, PR8 1DA

Anyone without symptoms can visit the asymptomatic test sites at Bootle Town Hall and Splash World in Southport from 8am-8pm seven days a week, no appointments are needed.

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

Sefton Council has a range of schemes, grants, information and advice available to anyone who may be struggling financially due to Covid, or who may need support when Self Isolating. More information is available at www.sefton.gov.uk/COVID-testing.

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