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Stay COVID-19 vigilant at home as well as when your out warns Sefton Health Chief

Sefton Council’s Interim Director of Public Health Margaret Jones is reminding people across the Borough that while they must take precautions to avoid contracting and passing coronavirus, they also need to remember to take care at home.

Mrs Jones said she is reassured that coronavirus cases in Sefton are currently low but said that required vigilance by everyone is needed to maintain that situation.

She said: “With Government’s recent reduction of restrictions, there has been a lot of focus on staying safe while out and about and there is no question that being mindful and considerate, maintaining safe distances and wearing masks or face covering is vitally important.

“But it is also vital that people don’t forget the day-to-day basics when they are at home.

“COVID-19 is still very much with us can be anywhere including our own homes so the need to follow the guidance on socialising remains. People should restrict indoor meetings to members of just two different households and keep the numbers at outdoor gathering to a maximum of six people.

“And, if people do start showing the symptoms of coronavirus, which are a high temperature, a new, continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste, it is essential for their own safety and the safety of their friends and loved ones around them that they get a test immediately. It’s easy to make an appointment via www.nhs.uk/coronavirus  or by calling 119.”

Mrs Jones went on to stress the importance of people responding if they are contacted by NHS Test and Trace service and the need to self-isolate for 14 days if they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive.

She added: “People don’t need to get tested unless they develop symptoms but if they get a negative test result after being identified through Test and Trace, they still need to self-isolate because the virus can take 14 days to incubate.

“And finally wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands and do it thoroughly.”

Check out the Government’s latest guidance. 

Ainsdale Beach parking charges to be re-introduced from Friday 7 August

From Friday, (7 August), Sefton Council’s Green Sefton team will be reintroducing charging for parking on Ainsdale Beach.

The all-day charge for parking on Ainsdale beach is £8 and payments will be by cash only.

Green Sefton Manager Mark Shaw said:  “Owing to a combination of the huge additional costs of supporting local people and organisations through coronavirus and a loss of most sources of income generation streams, Sefton Council is facing a significant funding shortfall.

“Re-introducing payments for parking on the beach is one of the ways we can start to reduce those effects and generate income for local service include the care of our 22 miles of beautiful coastline.

“For the past six weeks, since we re-opened Ainsdale Beach for parking at no charge, we have been trying to introduce a card payment system but connection problems due to the removal of a nearby mobile phone mast have made this impossible.

“We have, therefore decided to go ahead with a cash only system instead.  Visitors are asked to have the right money available to hand over but we will have change that will be sanitised before use. However, as with any cash transaction, we wold recommend people clean their hands afterwards.”

For regular visitors, Sefton Council offers a money-saving £20 annual season ticket for parking on Ainsdale Beach.

Find out how to apply for a season ticket.

Sefton Council has joined fellow Sefton Coastal Landscape Partnership members in a campaign to remind people to continue to be sensible and when visiting its coastline.

The campaign includes advice to on the need to maintain social distancing and asks visitors to remain respectful and protect Sefton’s public spaces.

The Council has been asking people not to light barbecues or fires or to take glass bottles and other items onto the beach as they can cause fires and dangerous litter if left behind.

People are also being reminded that a Public Spaces Protection Order is in place preventing the outdoor consumption of alcohol in areas of Formby & Ainsdale Beaches, Southport Promenade and town centre, Crosby & Waterloo including by the Marine Lake as well as Bootle and Formby town centres. The Order can be enforced by Police officers and authorised Council officers and fines for breaching it start at £50.

Sefton Coastal Landscape Partnership members include Sefton Council, Merseyside Police, Merseyside Fire and Rescue, British Transport Police, HM Coastguard, National Trust Formby, Natural England and the RNLI.

Grant funding support for Sefton Businesses

Council has started preparations to close its grant schemes to business. This follows the Government’s announcement to close all local authority grant support funds on 30th September. The schemes are part of the wider government business support response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The final date to submit an application for a Small Business Grant or a Retail, Leisure & Hospitality Grants will be 16th August 2020. Businesses can apply online at https://forms.sefton.gov.uk/covid19businessform/

In a final call to help support businesses the Council is reopening its Discretionary Business Grant Fund. The fund has already paid out over £1.3 m to businesses and a short application window will be made available to support struggling Sefton businesses who have fixed property costs that can be evidenced by a commercial lease, commercial rent or commercial mortgage agreement or other commercial property related costs such as business insurance.

The fund is open on a first come first serve basis to new applications from the 3rd August with the window closing at 11am on 26th August or until all funds are exhausted. This is to allow time to ensure all approved payments can be met by the Government deadline

The Government has asked local authorities to give priority to groups of small businesses that were unable to access the Small Business Grant and Retail, Leisure and Hospitality grant schemes. These include charities in receipt of charity rate relief, B&Bs which pay council tax, businesses in shared workspaces and regular market traders. Other small businesses, not in these highlighted groups, will also be welcome to apply where eligibility is met.

The Council has extended the scheme to certain businesses operating in commercial premises who have a rateable value of £51,000 or a commercial rental or mortgage agreement which is more than £51,000. (businesses who employ more than 50 staff are ineligible, as well as large national chains or their subsidiaries).

To support the grant process, rigorous checks are being undertaken to ensure businesses meet the eligibility criteria.  Applicants are urged to read the application guidance before applying and to ensure they provide all the required supporting information to avoid unnecessary delays with approval.

Businesses can apply online at https://www.sefton.gov.uk/business/business-rates/covid-19-business-support-for-202021.aspx

Local Testing Site for Southport- Updated Statement

One of the first Local Testing Sites in Merseyside will be in Southport.

Southport Town Hall will host a walk-in test centre from 6th August.

Some neighbouring businesses had expressed concern about the location of the test centre and in particular the exit and entrance to the Test Centre being within the One Stop Shop via Cambridge Arcade.

Sefton Council have negotiated with the private sector providers working on behalf of the DHSC, and they have agreed to make some changes to the layout of the test centre, including how people enter and exit the building, which should address the concerns of local traders.  Access to the Test Centre will be via Corporation Street.

The availability of a semi-permanent test facility within walking distance of a large proportion of residents is vital to the country’s recovery from Covid-19.

It’s important that anyone who has the coronavirus symptoms of a new continuous cough, a high temperature or a loss or change in their normal sense of taste or smell visits www.nhs.uk/coronavirus  or calls 119 to book a test.

Local children are being asked to brighten up the test centre by sending in drawings, paintings, and other colourful artworks which will be displayed in the two test sites in Sefton (Bootle and Southport).  You can post completed masterpieces to Sefton Council, Bootle Town Hall, Oriel Road, L20 7AE, or email them to communications@sefton.gov.uk

Sefton hosting region’s first walk-through COVID-19 Local Testing Sites

People across Sefton will benefit from the opening of Cheshire and Merseyside’s first dedicated walk-through Covid-19 testing sites, in Bootle on Friday (31 July) and in Southport next week.

Walk-through Local Testing Sites improve access to COVID-19 tests for the whole community, especially those who do not have access to a car and those people who should not be using public transport because they have coronavirus symptoms.

Unlike the Mobile Units, which people have already used to take over 7,000 tests at Sefton’s five locations, Local Testing Sites will be open for several months. Each Site will have between four and eight testing bays which can each test up to three people an hour. Users will be asked to self-swab when attending.

To use the walk-through process, people first need to book a test. You can do this online at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119 or Sefton Council’s Contact Centre on 0345 140 0845.

Leader of Sefton Council, Cllr Ian Maher, said: “We have been working very closely with colleagues in the NHS in Cheshire and Merseyside and the Department for Health and Social Care to ensure that we have the most accessible testing facilities for the people of Sefton, when and where they need them.

“I am delighted that we have been able to secure the first ever Local Testing Site facilities in Cheshire and Merseyside and that people will have even greater access to testing should people feel unwell.

“We have a fairly unique borough, which is both long and narrow, so being able to secure a Local Testing Site for both Southport and Bootle is a really good result. We will continue to work closely to ensure that all of the testing availability is used in the best possible way to help keep Sefton safe as we look to support the recovery of our area and the local economy.”

Regional Testing Director for Cheshire and Merseyside, Terry Whalley, said: “This additional capacity is great for Sefton and the whole of Cheshire and Merseyside.

“Having two semi-permanent Local Testing Sites  in Sefton means that we will be able to use other testing facilities more flexibly and be able to deploy them in a more targeted way in the future. This will help the Director of Public Health, and other professionals have a greater say in how testing is used and deployed locally.

“Having this extra capacity, more permanently, means that we can respond and react in a much more targeted way with other testing resources, should we see local outbreaks or other urgent needs. Such decisions can now be made in the knowledge that there are testing sites in both Bootle and Southport to rely on day to day.

“We will carefully study the use of these new sites in Sefton as we look to roll out further testing capability across Cheshire and Merseyside in our bid to continue protecting lives and livelihoods.”

People with coronavirus symptoms travelling to the Bootle Local Testing Site should not use public transport. There is on-street pay-and-display parking close to Bootle Town Hall for those people travelling to the Local Testing Site by car.

Mobile coronavirus testing units are scheduled to be at locations across Sefton every day in August.

Find out more with our Guide to the walk-through testing process.

More information on visiting a Local Testing Site is available in this YouTube video

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