County Cllrs update 23/3/20

We thought it best to share the latest update from the NCC CEO to give our residents a outline of what the NCC are doing in response to the crisis.

The Prime Minister and his team have made a number of announcements since Friday and these include the closure of cafes, pubs, clubs, bars and restaurants (who may continue to provide take out services) as well as the closure of theatres, cinemas, gyms and leisure centres which has had a direct impact on the continued provision of some of our Council services such as Customer Services, libraries and some education provision.  I would like to thank staff for their support and cooperation in promptly supporting these changes and for continuing to support our residents.


The Prime Minister has set out in unequivocal terms the need for the population to follow the guidance relating to social distancing in order to slow the spread of Coronavirus, primarily to save lives.


The Prime Minister has also confirmed that the country must now take special steps to protect the most vulnerable in society and this will involve “shielding” those with specific medical conditions, such as those who have had organ transplants, which will be up to 1.4 million people across the UK.


The Prime Minister has also said that we need to do more to make sure that the existing measures are being put into practice and that the public must understand and take the social distancing and advice issued by Public Health England seriously including remaining up to 2 metres apart. This includes where possible within the workplace for those staff who are key workers. We need to consider how we interact outdoors; we are encouraged at this time to continue to walk and exercise outdoors but please follow the advice from PHE on social distancing PHE Social Distancing Guidance and again, remain at least 2 metres apart from others.


Over the weekend, Public Health England issued information regarding their plans for “shielding” the most clinically vulnerable at this time. “Shielding” is for those who are extremely vulnerable on medical grounds.  “Shielding” is a measure to protect people who are clinically extremely vulnerable by minimising all interaction between those individuals and others, including those in their own households. Public Health England is strongly advising people with these specific conditions which put them at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) to rigorously follow shielding measures in order to keep themselves safe.  The serious underlying health conditions that this affects are:


  1. Solid organ transplant recipients

  2. People with specific cancers:

    • people with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy or radical radiotherapy for lung cancer

    • people with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment

    • people having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer

    • people having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors

    • people who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs

  3. People with severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe COPD.

  4. People with rare diseases and inborn errors of metabolism that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID), homozygous sickle cell).

  5. People on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection.

  6. Women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired.

The NHS will be writing to all individuals who fall into this category by Friday 27th March 2020.

This information is additional to the information issued on 20th March 2020 by Public Health England PHE Social Distancing Guidance which advised those who are at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) to be particularly stringent in following social distancing measures.

This group includes those who are:


It is vitally important that as a County Council that we lead by example and that we protect our staff and our residents from the Coronavirus wherever possible.



This is that you are currently not required to attend the workplace currently but that you may have arrangements with your line manager to be at home at this time.  This may include working remotely and undertaking a workplan relating to non-essential services of the Council.

——- HR advice omitted —




Business/Welfare Support


The Chancellor of the Exchequer has also announced significant support for businesses and supporting residents who may be suffering from hardship and these include:

  • a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

  • deferring VAT and Income Tax payments

  • a Statutory Sick Pay relief package for SMEs

  • a 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality, leisure and nursery businesses in England

  • small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief

  • grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000

  • the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank

  • a new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans

  • the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme


In order to support this, the County Council will be establishing our Northumberland Business Hub which will be operational in the next day or so.  We may be diverting some resources both within County Hall and from some people working remotely to support this going forward.  There will be a major advertising national campaign to share more details on this but we are aware as a Council that our staff may have family, friends and colleagues affected by the impact of this Coronavirus and as soon as our hub is up and running we will share more information with you so this can be promoted across the County.

Shielding Hub/Supporting Communities

The County Council also has a pivotal role to play in establishing support for our communities and we will also be establishing:

  • Northumberland Shielding Hub

  • Northumberland Communities Together


Northumberland Shielding Hub

By Tuesday 24th March 2020 the Council will have established the “Northumberland Shielding Hub” which will be responsible for leading the response to support our most vulnerable residents.  This is a critical role for the County Council.

We will be ensuring that medicines and essential supplies will be available to support those residents who are at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus.  The “Northumberland Shielding Hub” will be working closely with colleagues from the NHS, central government, the armed forces and supermarket chains to ensure that we are there for the residents who need us.

Northumberland Communities Together

We recognise that there is a wealth of great support and engagement from local communities and in response to this we are soon to be launching Northumberland Communities Together.  Northumberland Communities Together is our coordinated response to support and facilitate the fantastic volunteering networks which are being further built across our communities.  We are aware that many of our staff want to be part of this effort across the county and we are very grateful for all of the help and assistance that you have offered so far. Public Access to Our Buildings

Following the government’s advice in relation to further measures regarding social distancing, the County Council is working on measures to restrict public access to our buildings.

We will now be moving our libraries service to a fully digital and online offer with requests for books to be facilitated via community groups wherever possible including assisting our most vulnerable residents e.g. large print requests etc.  Libraries will also move to provide a telephone befriending service, preparing doorstep deliveries (which our community fleet will assist with), preparing further digital and on-line content and supporting any community offering that is needed through our Northumberland Communities Together initiative which we will be launching very soon.

Customer Services and Registrars will move to a first point of contact being a digital recommendation (website/on-line offer) or contact us by phone.  We will not have any front of house staffing and facilities and will only offer a limited face to face offer at our sites if it is safely managed, by appointment only and after a risk assessment deems it necessary to do so.

Discussions with staff in these services will take place today to facilitate this and I wish to pass on my personal thanks to staff who are working to put these arrangements in place.

Our continuing emergency planning arrangements

We are continuing to ensure that we stay well briefed on both the evolving national and regional picture, and follow all Government and Public Health England guidance which includes protecting yourself and other at

Please be assured that as a Council, we are continuing to be well prepared to respond to this situation but we are grateful for the engagement and support of all of our staff to support our efforts across the county at this time.


Our Executive Team is scheduled to meet daily throughout the coming week as our Strategic Leadership Team (Gold Command) to ensure that we are doing all that we can to support our staff and residents at what is an unprecedented and difficult time.

FAQ’s and Guidance

The council over the last few weeks have continued to produce a range of guidance including revised guidance for staff and managers regarding vulnerable groups which has today been updated to version 1.7.





You must ensure that you follow national guidance to take basic hygiene precautions, both within the workplace and at home.  This remains the best way of significantly reducing the chances of spreading any virus: sneeze or cough into a tissue, bin it; wash your hands frequently; and don’t touch your face unless you’ve just washed your hands.


For the latest up-to-date information, it is really important we only use trusted sources for information, these are:


  • General health advice: NHS UK and Public Health England – these are being updated on a daily basis, and we are continually reviewing these.

  • Public information: All information and guidance including number of cases from

  • Foreign travel: If you are planning to travel abroad, please note the latest FCO travel advice all non-essential foreign travel has been suspended for 40 days. Please also check if you return home from abroad that you follow Public Health England (PHE) guidance if you develop symptoms.

  • FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions (and answers) are available from

  • Urgent assistance / advice: If you are in any doubt, please go to NHS 111 Covid-19 online support in the first instance

We will continue to provide further information as it develops, with information in Staff Room, on the Staff Facebook page, and on the intranet. Please pass this information on to colleagues who may not have access to email, as it is vitally important that we share this information as far as we can to make sure that our workforce are as fully briefed as they can be to ensure that our most vulnerable residents continue to receive the support that they need.

I appreciate that this is a testing time for everyone and I am most thankful for everyone’s support in keeping Council services running and also to you all for providing a great #TeamNorthumberland spirit.

Thank you all for your continued support.



We continue to work closely with PTC and many other organisations, businesses and community groups every day.

We are here to support this great community everyday – If you have a question suggestion or just want to chat please get in touch – CLICK HERE

(We never enter into conversation or take reports via social media).

Thank you.