Coronavirus: current advice

The Government has set a 4 step roadmap out of lockdown and we can all look ahead to the gradual easing of restrictions and a route back to a more normal way of life over the coming months.

Moving to Step 4 on the Roadmap to Recovery:

At Step 4, the Government has removed most outstanding legal restrictions on social contact, life events, and opened the remaining closed settings. The Government is instead encouraging people and businesses to make informed decisions about how to manage the risk to themselves and others.

However, we know that that Covid-19 has not gone away and in many areas, including in Halton, cases are high and rising.

Vaccination uptake while good, has not yet reached our target of 85% of our population being fully vaccinated.

In order to protect our staff and local community, Halton Borough Council has chosen to take a cautious approach to opening up Council owned venues including leisure centres, libraries, children’s centres, community centres, register offices and crematoriums. Please see FAQs below for more details.

Step 4:

All remaining limits on social contact will be removed and there will be no more restrictions on how many people can meet in any setting, indoors or outdoors.

All settings will be able to open, including nightclubs.

Large events, such as music concerts and sporting events can resume without any limits on attendance or social distancing requirements.

The legal requirements to wear a face covering will be lifted in all settings.

Social distancing rules will be lifted.

Businesses will be encouraged to display QR codes for customers to check in using the NHS COVID-19 app, although it will no longer be a legal requirement.

It is no longer necessary for the Government to instruct people to work from home and employers can start to plan a return to workplaces

The Government has provided advisory guidance on how people can manage the risks to themselves and to others. It sets out how the following behaviours are beneficial:

  • meeting in well-ventilated areas where possible, such as outdoors or indoors with windows open
  • wearing a face covering where you come into contact with people you don’t normally meet in enclosed and crowded spaces
  • washing your hands with soap and water or using hand sanitiser regularly throughout the day
  • covering your nose and mouth when you cough and sneeze; staying at home if unwell, to reduce the risk of passing on other illnesses onto friends, family, colleagues, and others in your community
  • considering individual risks, such as clinical vulnerabilities and vaccination status.

The full Summer Roadmap can be found here.

For the latest Government guidance please visit gov.uk.

What does this mean for my business?

The government has published revised guidance to help businesses manage the risk of Covid-19 in the workplace as we move into step 4.

Businesses are still required to consider the risks posed by their activities to employees and others. Guidance to help businesses assess the risks and recommendations on appropriate controls can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-covid-19.

However in the short term we would encourage businesses to retain the control measures that they have had in place over the last 16 months. This will not only help keep employees safe but it will also help ensure business continuity by reducing the number of cases and contacts that need to self- isolate.

What rules and guidance will be in place for Council owned venues?

Halton Borough Council has taken the decision to remain cautious in the opening up of Council owned venues and care homes to protect our staff and community. Therefore:

  • Venues including leisure centres, community centres, children’s centres, libraries, Halton Direct Link and Widnes Market, will continue to operate with existing control measures in place – this includes encouraging members of the public to continue wearing face coverings

  • Events at Council venues will continue as per the guidance for Step 3 of the Government’s roadmap (which includes a 30 person limit). Events beyond the bounds of Step 3 may be allowed, however, these will be considered on a case by case basis and will be dependent on sufficient mitigation and risk assessment being put in place.
What rules and guidance will be in place for local care homes?

Current measures (including wearing of PPE, testing regimes and maintaining the current five designated visitors) will remain in place within care homes to continue to protect residents, their families and care staff.

FAQs

What about council buildings?

The following buildings remain closed to the general public:

The Brindley

DCBL Stadium

The following will remain open to the public with Covid-secure measures in place:

Children’s centres (all open for social care activity and early year’s support apart from Windmill Hill Children’s Centre which will be closed temporarily for a short period)

Shopmobility

Horticultural day service activity at Hough Green

Women’s Centre, Runcorn

Public toilets in town centres

Halton Borough Council MOT Centre

 Waste and collection services

Household waste recycling centres will remain open, operating as now, with current Covid-secure arrangements in place.

There are no changes to the waste collection timetable.

 

What support is available for clinically and extremely vulnerable residents?

From 1 April, those identified as clinically extremely vulnerable were no longer advised to shield. However, as cases remain high locally, you should continue to take extra precautions to protect yourself. It is important that you continue to keep the number of social interactions that you have low and try to limit the amount of time you spend in settings where you are unable to maintain social distancing.

People are still advised to continue working from home where possible, but if people are unable to do so, employers are required by law to take steps to make workplaces COVID-19 secure and should discuss this with their employees.

Support:

While we recommend seeking support from family, friends or a volunteer first, details of support and information continues to available at www.onehalton.uk/shieldedsupport (this needs to be checked). You can also call the Council on 0303 333 4300.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Self-Employed Income Support Service Scheme (SEISS) have both been extended until 30 September, and the £20 per week increase to Universal Credit will also remain in place until September.

For those who need to self-isolate due to a positive test or through close contact with someone who tests positive for coronavirus, there is advice and guidance available on the council’s website – www.halton.gov.uk/selfisolation .

In future, formal shielding will only be reintroduced in areas where case numbers are high and will be based on a recommendation from the Government’s Chief Medical Officer.

 

How do I book a test if I have symptoms?

If you HAVE symptoms; 

You need to get tested as soon as possible.

You can book online here or by calling NHS 119. You will then be invited to a test site – or you can order a home test kit if you can’t get to a test site.

What are the symptoms of Covid-19

The three main symptoms of COVID-19 are a high temperature, a persistent cough or a loss of smell or taste. If you experience any of these symptoms you should self-isolate and get tested.

But if you are feeling generally unwell, with a combination of new symptoms you should also get tested. This is because there are other symptoms which people have also been testing positive with, they include:

  • Fever and chills
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • New persistent fatigue
  • A persistent headache
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhoea

If you have a combination of any of these wider symptoms, you should get a test at one of Halton’s symptoms-only testing sites. If your result is positive then please self-isolate.

If you HAVE symptoms; 

You need to get tested as soon as possible.

You can book online here or by calling NHS 119. You will then be invited to a test site – or you can order a home test kit if you can’t get to a test site.

How do I get a test if I DO NOT have symptoms?

Please go to www.halton.gov.uk/smart for a full list of local ‘no symptoms’ testing venues and frequently asked questions.

I have symptoms, does the rest of my household need to book a test?

If someone in your household starts to have symptoms, then that person must get tested.

It is very important that people with symptoms self-isolate before the test and until they receive their results. It is an offence to fail to self-isolate.

All close contacts, regardless of vaccination status, are advised to take a PCR test as soon as possible to confirm their condition.

From Monday 16 August, if you are double jabbed* or aged under 18, you will no longer be legally required to self-isolate if you are identified as a close contact of a positive COVID-19 case. Instead, you are advised to take a PCR test (at an NHS test centre) as soon as possible to check if you have the virus and for variants of concern – you are not required to self-isolate while you wait for the results of the PCR test.

You may be entitled to a Test and Trace Support payment of £500. If you have been told by NHS Test and Trace to self-isolate, either because you have tested positive for Coronavirus Covid-19 or you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive, you may be entitled to some financial support during your self-isolation period:​ ​apply online or see support for individuals section.

*Double vaccinated adults who are close contacts will no longer be required to self-isolate from 16 August, as long as they received their final dose of an MHRA-approved vaccine in the UK vaccination programme at least 14 days prior to contact with a positive case.

Do I need to self-isolate even though my test result was negative?

A negative result means the test did not find coronavirus.

You do not need to self-isolate if your test is negative, as long as:

Everyone you live with who has symptoms tests negative

You were not told to self-isolate for 10 days by NHS Test and Trace

If you feel unwell, stay at home until you’re feeling better.

Full guidance on self-isolating can be found on the Government’s website

Where do I find information on infection rates?

You can see the latest data for Halton in the COVID-19 data section here.

Or you can find information (including data for your post code area) on the Government’s website here

I have had both vaccinations, do I still need to isolate if I am a close contact of a positive case?

From 16 August, anyone in England who has had both their Covid vaccinations will no longer have to self-isolate if a close contact tests positive for Covid. If you are a close contact, you will be advised to take a PCR test (see www.halton.gov.uk/smart for a list of local test venues) to make sure you haven’t been infected. As long as this PCR test is negative, you will not be required to self-isolate.

Please note that anyone who tests positive or develops symptoms will still need to self-isolate, regardless of their vaccination status.

People who have a second vaccine dose close to 16 August will have to wait two weeks after the vaccination before following the new rules. This is to allow the vaccination to take full effect.

How are the rules changing for children in England?

From 16 August children will also no longer have to self-isolate if a close contact tests positive. Instead they will be advised whether they need to be tested. However, any child who tests positive or develops symptoms will still have to self-isolate.

Vaccine FAQs

How are the rules changing for children in England?

You can get the Covid-19 vaccination if you are in one of the following categories:

People aged 18 and over

People at high risk from COVID-19 (clinically extremely vulnerable) If you’re not sure if you’re at high risk, see who is at high risk from COVID-19.

People with other conditions that put them at higher risk

People with certain other health conditions are at high risk and can get the COVID-19 vaccine (as well as people who are clinically extremely vulnerable). These conditions include:

  • long-term lung conditions (such as severe asthma, COPD, bronchiectasis and cystic fibrosis)
  • long-term conditions affecting the heart or blood vessels (such as congenital heart disease, heart failure and peripheral arterial disease)
  • diabetes
  • chronic kidney disease
  • long-term liver conditions (such as cirrhosis and hepatitis)
  • conditions affecting the brain or nerves (such as dementia, Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, cerebral palsy or stroke)
  • learning disabilities
  • a condition or treatment that makes you more likely to get infections (such as HIV or some treatments for lupus, psoriasis or rheumatoid arthritis)
  • severe mental conditions (such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder)
  • severe obesity (a BMI of 40 or above)

Carers

People who live and work in care homes

Frontline health workers

Frontline social care workers

Vaccination priority groups

The order in which people are offered the COVID-19 vaccine is based on advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). Read the latest JCVI advice on priority groups for the COVID-19 vaccination on GOV.UK

Book your COVID-19 vaccination appointments

How do I book my Covid-19 vaccination?

Book your appointments

You need to:

book 2 appointments for 2 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine

get the 2nd dose 8 to 12 weeks after getting your 1st dose

If you’ve had your 1st dose at a walk-in vaccination centre, you can book your 2nd dose using this service. You’ll need to wait 24 hours after your 1st dose before you can book.

f you’ve had a positive COVID-19 test, you should wait 4 weeks from the date you had the test before you book an appointment.

If you’re under 40, you’ll only be shown appointments for the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines.

If you’re 40 or over, you’ll be asked if you’re pregnant. This is to make sure people who are pregnant are only shown appointments for the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines.

Book my appointments

‘Grab a Jab’ Drop in clinics

In Halton and across Cheshire and Merseyside, there are drop-in vaccination clinics operating – you do not need to book in advance to attend.

To find out where your nearest drop-in clinic is click here.

Why should I get the Covid-19 vaccination?

Vaccinated people are far less likely to get Covid-19 with symptoms. Vaccinated people are even more unlikely to get serious Covid-19, to be admitted to hospital, or to die from it, and there is growing evidence that vaccinated people are less likely to pass the virus to others.

The first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech, Oxford/AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccine offer good levels of protection, but to get maximum protection, everyone needs to get a second dose.

Recent analysis by Public Health England (PHE) shows that COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective against hospitalisation from the Delta (B.1.61.2) variant.

The analysis suggests the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is 96% effective and the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is 92% effective against hospitalisation after both doses.

More information about Covid-19 vaccinations can be found at www.nhs.uk or by visiting https://www.haltonwarringtonccg.nhs.uk/latest-news/campaigns/coronavirus-information/coronavirus-vaccines-frequently-asked-questions.

 

Support for businesses

The Liverpool City Region “Trading On Scheme” Grant

Reopening High Streets Safely

Together we can ensure everybody can return to #HaltonHighStreets safely.

Click to download the Business Toolkit and Communication Resources.

Self employed support scheme 

If you are self employed, the Government has released the link for applications for grants.  For those who are eligible the scheme will allow you to claim a taxable grant of 80% of your average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering 3 months, and capped at £7,500 altogether. This is a temporary scheme, but it may be extended.

You will need your UTR (Unique Tax Reference) number and National Insurance number to begin the application process.

PRIVACY NOTICE: Halton Borough Council is the Data Controller for the personal information you provide. You can view the full privacy notice.

Other Business Support

The main source of information for all business support during the coronavirus crisis remains the UK Government web site at https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus/business-support or alternatively Liverpool City Region Growth Platform site at https://growthplatform.org/business-covid-19-advice/.

Please refer to the above websites in the first instance for up to date information.
If, however, you’d rather speak to someone locally please email Halton Borough Council’s Business Development Team on business@halton.gov.uk

We appreciate that this is a very difficult time but we are assured by government that they are exploring every possible avenue to provide support to businesses and to that end the Council and other public sector organisations are working hard to put in place the systems necessary to make that happen.

Support for individuals

Council Tax Support & Welfare Advice & Self Isolation Support Payments

​From 28th September 2020, you may be entitled to a Test and Trace Support payment of £500. If you have been told by NHS Test and Trace to self-isolate, either because you have tested positive for Coronavirus Covid-19 or you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive, you may be entitled to some financial support during your self-isolation period:​ ​apply online

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is having a significant impact on our economy and services and we would like to reassure residents who are struggling to pay their Council Tax bill at this difficult time.

Your Council Tax bill pays for essential services that are delivered to all Halton residents. If your circumstances have not changed, you should continue to pay in accordance with the details shown on your bill so we can continue to provide essential services.

If your income has been affected as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak you should submit a claim for Universal Credit with the DWP on their website here: https://www.gov.uk/apply-universal-credit

You should also claim Council Tax Reduction direct from the Council on our website here: or https://www3.halton.gov.uk/Pages/CouncilandBenefits/Housing-Benefits.aspx

If you are struggling to pay your Council Tax please contact us by email at council.tax@halton.gov.uk

Essential bills advice

The Government updated the advice for those in difficulty with utility bills, or repayment commitments on credit cards, loans and mortgages, as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

Mortgages and Coronavirus

If you’re struggling to keep up with mortgage repayments due to coronavirus, or you’re coming to the end of a payment holiday and wondering what happens next, find out what your next steps may be.

Mental Health & Well Being

Useful sources of information, advice and guidance

Halton Local Offer COVID-19 page

Support for clinically and extremely vulnerable

As restrictions have been eased following the move to Step 4 of the roadmap, the Government is advising clinically extremely vulnerable people, as a minimum, to follow the same guidance as everyone else. It is important that everyone adheres to this guidance.

However, as someone who is at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill if you were to catch COVID-19, you may wish to think particularly carefully about additional precautions you might wish to continue to take. Individuals may choose to limit the close contact they have with those they do not usually meet with in order to reduce the risk of catching or spreading COVID-19, particularly if they are clinically extremely vulnerable and if COVID-19 disease levels in the general community are high. It is important to respect and be considerate of those who may wish to take a more cautious approach as restrictions are lifted.

Although the vast majority of the population, including the clinically extremely vulnerable, will be well protected by the vaccine, no vaccine is 100% effective and there is emerging evidence that suggests that some immunocompromised and immunosuppressed individuals may not respond as well to COVID-19 vaccines as others. However, all COVID-19 vaccines should offer some degree of protection. Therefore, it is really important that you have both your first and second dose of the coronavirus vaccine.

A recent study from Public Health England (PHE), which looked at more than 1 million people in at-risk groups, found that people who are immunosuppressed are significantly better protected from symptomatic infection following the second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Various studies are underway to better understand who is less well protected by the COVID-19 vaccines.

If you have any questions or concerns about what it means to be clinically extremely vulnerable and how COVID-19 may impact your health condition, have a look at the NHS website.

If you are concerned about your general physical and mental wellbeing or if you are immunocompromised or immunosuppressed and have any concerns about what this means for you, then please contact your GP practice or specialist who can provide you with support and guidance on any further measures you can take to further reduce your risk of infection.

To read the Government’s full advice click here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19 

 

 

Become a volunteer

 If you want to help the most vulnerable across Widnes and Runcorn there are a variety of opportunities you can register to help for with Halton and St Helens Voluntary and Community Action.

You may be able to deliver much needed supplies to the vulnerable and self-isolating; provide telephone support; share information and updates, and many other tasks .

You can register online or call them on 01744 457100, visit their website

Covid Data
  • There have been 627 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Halton residents in the last 7 days (to 4th October).  
  • The 7 day rate is 483 per 100,000 population, or one in every 207 people in Halton have COVID-19 (to 4th October). i
  • Our weekly rate of positive cases has increased during the past week.
  • In total there have been 19,472 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Halton residents (as of 7th October).
  • The percentage of people testing positive has increased during the past week, and was 9.4% on 1st October.
  • Sadly, the was 1 death for Halton residents, which mentioned COVID-19 on the death certificate, for week 38 (ending 24th September). ii

 

[i] Data for the last 4 days may not be complete. Source: https://coronavirus.data.gov.uk/cases

[ii] Source: Office for National Statistics

 

 

Vaccination data:

The weekly number of COVID-19 vaccinations provided by the NHS in England is available at a regional level here.

The data is now being presented at a number of levels, below is the Local Authority data – more data, including constituency and MSOA level can be found here.

Doses given in Halton as at 3 October 2021

 

1st dose

Under 18

18-24

25-29

30-34

35-39

40-44

45-49

50-54

55-59

60-64

65-69

70-74

75-79

80+

   2,154

   6,868

   5,685

   6,569

   7,167

   6,893

   7,569

   8,563

  8,806

    7,880

   6,994

   6,871

   4,126

  4,944

 

2nd dose

Under 18

18-24

25-29

30-34

35-39

40-44

45-49

50-54

55-59

60-64

65-69

70-74

75-79

80+

       501

       5,650

      4,810

     5,803

    6,533

     6,468

  7,227

  8,311

    8,584

   7,748

    6,923

   6,811

   4,092

   4,885

 

Cumulative total doses to date

 
 

         175,435

 

 

Dates and locations of all the drop-in vaccination clinics happening in Cheshire & Merseyside can be found here. Please share.