Coronavirus: current advice

‘Very high’ Covid alert level

Halton, along with other areas across the Liverpool City Region, has been placed by Government into the ‘very high’ Covid alert level of the new three-tier system of interventions to tackle the spread of COVID-19.

New restrictions will take effect from Wednesday 14 October, that as well as prohibiting social mixing indoors and in gardens, will mean pubs and bars, gyms and leisure centres, betting shops, adult gaming centres and casinos across Halton and other areas of the Liverpool City Region will close.

In addition to these new restrictions, you must continue to:

  • Wash hands keep washing your hands regularly
  • Cover face wear a face covering in enclosed spaces
  • Make space stay at least 2 metres apart – or 1 metre with a face covering or other precautions
  • Get tested but only if you have symptoms

Very high alert FAQs

 

What areas does it cover?

The whole of Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, Sefton, St Helens, Wirral

 

Why are the measures being introduced?

On 12 October the Prime Minister announced that Halton, with other areas of the Liverpool City Region would be placed in the ‘very high alert’ Covid level of the Government’s new three-tier alert system. 

It is hoped, these measures will help to address the significant rise in Coronavirus cases in Halton in recent weeks.

We are doing everything we can to protect our most vulnerable, keep businesses open and children in school, which these measures will help with.

How long will it last?

The new restrictions will be monitored closely and reviewed in 28 days. The next steps will depend on the impact these measures have.

What are the household changes?

You must not meet socially with friends and family indoors in any setting unless they are part of your household or support bubble.  You must also not meet with people outside of your household or support bubble in their garden or in most outdoor public venues.

support bubble is where a household with one adult joins with another household. Households in that support bubble can still visit each other, stay overnight, and visit public places together.

Informal childcare can also be provided via childcare bubbles. You can read more about childcare bubbles on the  ‘Childcare’ section of the Government’s website.

You may continue to see friends and family you do not live with (or have formed a support bubble with) in groups of 6 or less in certain outdoor public spaces, such as:

  • parks, beaches, countryside, forests
  • public gardens (whether or not you pay to enter them), allotments
  • outdoor sports courts and facilities, and playgrounds

When you do so, you must not meet in a group of more than 6, this limit of 6 includes children of any age.

Meeting in larger groups is against the law. The police can take action against you if you meet in larger groups. This includes breaking up illegal gatherings and issuing fines (fixed penalty notices).

You can be fined £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400. If you hold, or are involved in holding, an illegal gathering of over 30 people, the police can issue fines of £10,000.

When meeting friends and family you should also:

  • follow social distancing rules when you meet up
  • limit how many different people you see socially over a short period of time

There are exceptions where people from different households can gather beyond the limits set out above, in any setting, including indoors in private homes. These exceptions are:

  • in a legally-permitted support bubble
  • in a legally-permitted childcare bubble (see section on childcare below for more details)
  • for work, volunteering to provide voluntary or charitable services (see guidance on working safely in other people’s homes)
  • for registered childcare, education or training
  • to allow contact between birth parents and children in care
  • for arrangements where children do not live in the same household as both their parents or guardians
  • for prospective adopting parents to meet a child or children who may be placed with them
  • for supervised activities provided for children, including wraparound care (before and after school childcare), youth groups and activities, and children’s playgroups
  • for birth partners
  • to see someone who is dying
  • to provide emergency assistance, and to avoid injury or illness, or to escape a risk of harm
  • to fulfil a legal obligation, such as attending court or jury service
  • to provide care or assistance to someone vulnerable
  • to facilitate a house move
  • for a wedding or equivalent ceremony where the organiser has carried out a risk assessment and taken all reasonable measures to limit the risk of transmission of the virus – up to a maximum of 15 people (not to take place in private dwellings)
  • for funerals – up to a maximum of 30 people. Wakes and other commemorative events are permitted with up to 15 people present (not to take place in private dwellings)
  • for elite sportspeople and their coaches if necessary for competition and training, as well as parents or guardians if they are a child
  • for outdoor exercise and dance classes, organised outdoor sport, and licensed outdoor physical activity
  • indoor organised team sports for disabled people, and youth sport
  • support groups of up to 15 participants – formally organised groups to provide mutual aid, therapy or any other form of support. (Not to take place in private dwellings)
  • protests – if organised in compliance with COVID-secure guidance

Where a group includes someone covered by such an exception (for example, someone who is working), they are not generally counted as part of the gatherings limit. This means, for example, a tradesperson can go into a household without breaching the limit, if they are there for work.

Do these measures affect childcare?

You can continue to use early years and childcare settings, including childminders and providers offering before or after school clubs or other out-of-school settings for children. You can also continue to employ nannies, including those living outside of Halton.

Children of parents who are separated can continue to move between households.

‘Informal’ childcare, for example grandparents looking after children, is allowed for children under 13 or vulnerable adults where that is necessary for caring purposes.

It does not allow for play-dates or parties.

We would advise that vulnerable people should not provide childcare.

Can grandparents from the same household (i.e. nan and grandad) both provide childcare?

Yes. Grandparents who live in the same household, i.e. nan and grandad, can link with one other household so that the parents of the children can work.

I have two sets of grandparents who live in separate households looking after my children. Is this allowed?

No.  You can only link with one other household at any time, so the parents of the children can work.

I am a grandparent, how many of my grandchildren can I look after?

One set from one household, so the parents can work.

What is a support bubble?

A support bubble is a close support network between a household with only one adult in the home (known as a single-adult household) and one other household of any size.

Once you’re in a support bubble, you can think of yourself as being in a single household with people from the other household. It means you can have close contact with that household as if they were members of your own household.

Once you make a support bubble, you should not change who is in your bubble.

You should not have multiple bubbles.

Do these measures affect access to education?

No. Schools, colleges and universities remain open and are operating in a COVID-secure way.

Does my child need to wear a face covering at school?

Unless exempt, in education settings where students in Year 7 and above are educated, face coverings should be worn by staff, visitors and students when moving around in corridors and communal areas.

Can I travel outside Halton for work or school?

You may continue to travel to for work, school and voluntary/charitable work, but you should try to reduce the number of journeys you make where possible.

If you need to travel we encourage you to walk or cycle where possible, or to plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport. This will allow you to practise social distancing while you travel.

Can I go to someone’s house in an area not subject to the restrictions?

No, you must not visit anyone’s home inside or outside of the restricted area (except for your support bubble).

What are the changes for venues including pubs, gyms and leisure centres?

Pubs and bars will be closed unless they are serving substantial meals, like a main lunchtime or evening meal.

In addition, the following businesses must close:

  • casinos
  • betting shops
  • adult gaming centres
  • indoor gyms
  • fitness and dance studios
  • sports facilities – with an exemption for:
    • organised indoor team sports for disabled people
    • U18s activities

Shops and places of worship will remain open.

Venues following COVID-secure guidance can host more people in total, but no one must mix indoors or in most public outdoor venues with anyone who they do not live with (or have formed a support bubble with). This includes in:

  • restaurants and pubs (where they are permitted to open)
  • shops
  • leisure and entertainment venues
  • places of worship

At least one person in your group should give their contact details to the venue or check in using the official NHS COVID-19 app so NHS Test and Trace can contact you if needed.

Certain businesses selling food or drink on their premises are required to close between 10pm and 5am.

Businesses and venues selling food for consumption off the premises, can continue to do so after 10pm as long as this is through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-thru.

Hospitality venues in ports, on transport services and in motorway service areas do not need to close at 10pm, but must not serve alcohol after that time

 

What about takeaways?

Hot food takeaways should close to walk-ins between 10pm and 5am each day, but they can continue to operate a delivery service during these hours, via a website, telephone, text message, post, or by ‘drive-throughs’.

Can I meet up outdoors, i.e. on the beach or in the park, with other households?

You may continue to see friends and family you do not live with (or have formed a support bubble with) in groups of 6 or less in certain outdoor public spaces, such as:

  • parks, beaches, countryside, forests
  • public gardens (whether or not you pay to enter them), allotments
  • outdoor sports courts and facilities, and playgrounds

When you do so, you must not meet in a group of more than 6. In England, this limit of 6 includes children of any age.

Meeting in larger groups is against the law. The police can take action against you if you meet in larger groups. This includes breaking up illegal gatherings and issuing fines (fixed penalty notices).

You can be fined £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400. If you hold, or are involved in holding, an illegal gathering of over 30 people, the police can issue fines of £10,000.

Are there restrictions on weddings, civil partnerships and funerals?

Weddings and civil partnerships can go ahead with a maximum of 15 people but receptions are not permitted.

Funerals can go ahead with a maximum of 30 people, and wakes can take place with 15 people or fewer – but not in a private dwelling.

What are the changes to playing sports?

You can continue to take part in organised sporting activity in groups of more than six outdoors. There is an exemption for indoor sports if it is organised for the purposes of someone who has a disability and for children’s activities.

Outdoor sports gatherings must be organised by a business, or other organisation and must have a risk assessment and ensure compliance with Covid secure guidance.

We advise that you should not attend amateur or professional sporting events as a spectator.

Can I go to the gym, gym class, leisure centre or a swimming pool?

Indoor gyms, leisure centres, fitness and dance studios and sports facilities (with an exemption for organised indoor team sports for disabled people and children’s activities) will close from Wednesday 14 October.

Halton Borough Council leisure centres and gyms are closed to the public.

Can I have someone in my house (or go into someone’s house) to do repairs or other work?

Only official/registered tradespeople can go to other people’s homes for work purposes as long as you follow national guidance on how to work safely there. This includes mobile hairdressers and beauticians.

What about public transport and car sharing?

Residents are advised to walk or cycle when possible and when travelling by car to only travel with those in your household and/or support bubble.

It is advised to only use public transport for essential purposes, such as travelling to school or work.

Face coverings must be worn unless exempt.

Are bus and train stations still open?

Bus and train stations remain open and members of the public are permitted to travel to and from these locations.

Can I move home?

Yes. 

Additional advice for clinically extremely vulnerable residents?

The government is not currently changing its guidance on shielding, and so residents in Halton are not being asked to shield. 

Find out the latest information on shielding from government.

For more information on support available please visit: www.onehalton.uk/shieldingsupport

How to do I book a test?

You need to get tested as soon as possible (within the first five days of having symptoms) you should only get a test if you have symptoms.

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.

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 and the rest of the household should self-isolate with them whilst they wait for the results. If you or other members of the household don’t have symptoms, then you should not get a test – only people with symptoms should get tested.

It is very important that people with symptoms and their household members self-isolate before the test and until they receive their results.

It is now and offence to fail to self-isolate. 

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 (or your support bubble) who has symptoms tests negative
  • You were not told to self-isolate for 14 days by NHS Test and Trace
  • If you feel well – 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 here.

Where do I find information on infection rates?

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

Or you can find information on the Government’s website here.

Support for businesses

Support for Business During the Current Coronavirus Crisis

The Local Restrictions Support Grant (LRSG)

The Local Restrictions Support Grant (LRSG) will support businesses that were open as usual, providing services in person to customers from their business premises, but which were then required to close for at least three weeks due to local lockdown restrictions imposed by government. It is for businesses that pay business rates on their premises. Local councils may at their discretion also provide funding for businesses that don’t pay business rates. Eligible businesses will get one grant for each property liable for business rates within the lockdown zone.

Halton Borough Council is currently awaiting guidance from Government, and full details will be published here when available. For updates, visit https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-youre-eligible-for-the-coronavirus-local-restrictions-support-grant

Business Recovery Grant

In response to the demand for increased support for SMEs, government has committed an additional £30m from the England European Regional Development Fund. £10m to support visitor/ tourism economy and £20m for the wider economy businesses.

Self employed income 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 

Emergency fund for hospitality and leisure sector

An emergency fund of up to £40million has been launched to protect Liverpool City Region’s vital hospitality and leisure businesses from the huge economic impact Covid-19 restrictions are having on the sector.

The fund aims to enable viable businesses to continue trading and retain as many jobs as possible; support temporarily closed businesses to top up employees’ wages and remain solvent; and to help lay the ground for economic recovery across the hospitality and leisure sector in the future.

For more information and to apply please visit: https://runcorn-widnes.com/emergency-fund-for-hospitality-and-leisure-sector 

Other Business Support

The main source of information for all business support during the coronavirus crisis remains the UK Government web site at www.businesssupport.gov.uk 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 call Halton Borough Council’s Business Development Team on 0151 511 7825 or email 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

Mental Health & Well Being

Useful sources of information, advice and guidance

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
COVID-19 DATA FOR HALTON
  • There have been 441 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Halton residents in the last 7 days (to 13th October) (i)

  • The 7-day infection rate is 343 per 100,000 population  to 13th October
  • Our weekly rate of positive cases has remained very high in the last week, as we have seen across all local authorities in Cheshire & Merseyside.
  • In total there have been 2,582 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Halton residents (to 16th October)
  • The percentage of people testing positive has remained high during the past week.
  • Very sadly, we have to report that there were 3 COVID-19 deaths in the week ending 2nd October. (ii)

Warrington and Halton Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust current status

 

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

[ii] Source: Office for National Statistics