Latest COVID-19 Update -27th March

There are a number of things in this update, many of which you have requested, plus some other things we think you might find useful.

Guidance on leaflet dropping: There is no specific government guidance on this in relation to COVID-19. Our Public Health and Health and Safety colleagues have considered this. The evidence suggests a theoretical risk but how contagious this is to the individual handling the leaflet is not known. This means leaflet distribution becomes a calculated risk between potential transmission from a leaflet and the benefit of informing those most in need of the essential services and support available. In the circumstances, my own view is that we should err on the side of caution and only do leaflet dropping where we believe it to be essential and the only option, for example for people who do not have regular internet/social media access. If you do choose to use leaflets, the main thing is handwashing and this guidance decontamination in non healthcare settings, combined with social distancing. Elected members should also follow the normal guidance for their own safety.

Our work in communities: The work being done by councillors and MPs during this crisis is brilliant, especially with our focus on the most vulnerable who need additional support. We continue our engagement with faith colleagues who also play a key role in communities. The success of this approach will be because it is the context of all the work already all do to support communities, and has been developed by each locality. We want you to be safe, whilst you help people during this uncertain time so those working on member safety suggest taking these steps:

  • If you do leaflet drop, stay in touch with anyone helping, share mobile numbers if possible and make sure you know where people are. Stick to a patch you know well. Keep to where people will recognise you and trust your offer is genuine. Try to understand that people may be cautious if they don’t know you well and may challenge you on the doorstep
  • Ensure you stay 2 metres (6ft) away from everyone, wash hands regularly, and use gloves if you have them
  • Trust your instincts and remove yourself from the situation if you don’t feel safe
  • If you witness hate crime, such as racist comments or physical violence, report it to the Police or Stop Hate UK
  • Don’t go inside homes, or shake hands. If you do offer to shop/get medication, comply with the guidance about dropping at the doorstep and staying a safe distance.

Volunteering – needs and asks: Here’s a reminder of the details you can give to those people who are unable to leave the house and are worried because they don’t have family or friends or existing network, call Leeds City Council on 0113 378 1877, where we will take a note of what they need and match that with a local volunteer. You can encourage people to follow this local being a good neighbour guide or this national guidance to help people to safely provide essential support to those in isolation Coronavirus: How to help safely. If people offer to help, signpost them to Voluntary Action Leeds or email info@val.org.uk. Training will be provided so volunteers meet safeguarding standards and this will give us a structured approach to volunteering during COVID-19. We are thankful for the kind offers from our communities to help provide care and support.

Migrant Information Hub: It is worth checking the details on the migrant info hub with lots of information including translations of Stay at Home messages.

Supporting our staff:  We are working hard to maintain critical services, and managers are very busy at this time organising and supporting staff. It is disappointing that some staff are facing abuse when they are doing their best for the city. We are putting message out to try and ensure our staff feel safe and valued whilst they undertake key roles. You might want to use these in your messaging.

You may see some of our officers and contractors carrying out essential work to help keep Leeds moving and support vital services, while following rules around social distancing. This includes providing essential care work and carrying out urgent repairs and maintenance. Please respect them. We will continue to review our workplace policies to reflect government guidance. 

Our roads remain open and we expect works, including emergency and other street works to maintain utility services to continue (whilst ensuring social distancing), ensuring that life-saving medicine, equipment, supplies and healthcare staff can travel across the country to where they are needed most.

 New powers for the Police: Here is a link to the WYP Chief Constable’s statement, which also includes a short video explaining their new responsibility to ensure that the public are abiding by the new restrictions placed upon everyone. He says that the vast majority of people are heeding the advice and WYP continue to encourage compliance with new stay at home rules, warning and advising if necessary and trying to help people to understand what they should be doing. Where people persist in not complying, WYP will use the powers at their disposal, including being robust where people repeatedly fail to abide by the restrictions. If anyone wants more detail on the powers, here is the national guidance.

Enforcement issues: We are getting a lot of enquires about this, so here is a reminder if anyone wishes to report a licensed premise that is still open (excluding takeaways as they can continue to function) they should email entertainment.licensing@leeds.gov.uk and reports of any retail shops still open when they shouldn’t be can be sent to epteam@leeds.gov.uk. Here is the latest guidance about this further-businesses-and-premises-to-close-guidance

Next up initiative: We have written to business this week to ask for support for the organisation Next-Up is looking for 500 senior people who have retired or are close to retirement to spend some time mentoring less experienced entrepreneurs and leaders from all sectors. If you sign up to be a mentor you’ll need to be able to spend 45 minutes a week for three months giving online support to a younger leader/entrepreneur. If you sign up as a mentee, you’ll be allocated a mentor and you’ll be able to talk through any difficulties you are facing during the coronavirus pandemic and more generally.  You can use their skills, experience and contacts to help you make the best possible decisions in what is a really difficult time. Both potential mentors and mentees can register online to take part.  Go to www.next-up.com for information and to register.

Ice cream vendors: With the good weather we are getting reports of some ice cream vendors operating in the city.  The licensed vendors markets and parks have on their books have all confirmed they have stopped trading, so any ice cream vans still operating are doing so illegally.  Report to markets@leeds.gov.uk so they can follow up, markets have the regulatory powers to issue fixed penalty notices.

COVID App: A few people asked whether the App being shared to collect data about COVID-19 is legitimate. Our Public Health colleagues have looked into this and it does look legitimate, however it isn’t an NHS initiative, although the data might be shared with the NHS. Data may also be shared with other institutions. We are therefore not in a position to endorse or promote this research, and it would be for individuals to read the information and decide if they wish to shared their personal information in this way.

Next updates will provide more on housing, shielding and the economy. Thank you for your continued support and feedback. Both Tom and myself are emphasising our appreciation of the council’s workforce during this difficult time and the work of our partners.