County Cllrs update 26/3/20

Reproduced below is an update from Mrs Lally the CEO of NCC

(Certain non relevant information has been redacted).

The latest advice from the Government has made a very clear ask of us all and that is that we stay at home as much as we can, in order to slow the spread of Coronavirus. It is really important that you do all you can to maintain social distancing at this time.

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 Council has a lead role within this, and will be supporting “shielding” residents through our Northumberland Communities Together initiative which you can find more information about here.  I would like to put on record my personal thanks to those staff who have stepped forward to help us establish our hubs, telephone support and community liaison during this very difficult time, it is very much appreciated.


Social Distancing

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.


Community Shielding

The NHS have now written or sent a text to the most clinically vulnerable people to advise them to “shield” 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 “shielding” 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.

Social Distancing for Vulnerable Groups

“Shielding” is in addition to the information also issued by Public Health England PHE Social Distancing Guidance which has advised that 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.





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

  • Coronavirus Self Employment Income Support Scheme


In order to support this, the County Council will be establishing our Northumberland Business Hub which will be operational this week.

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.


For information on benefits, please share the link on Universal Credit Here

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.


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