LATEST COUNCIL COVID-19 UPDATE – 28TH MARCH

I have received this update this afternoon, If you want the briefing note on “shielding”

“At a glance the update covers:

  • A briefing note about “shielding” and the Leeds response to our role in relation to this cohort, as we have said before this is set within the broader work we have been doing on volunteering with our third sector colleagues, which we are working really hard to embed with the right capacity.
  • A reminder of the key council contact numbers during this period (see bottom of message)
  • Police Powers – what this will look like in practice
  • Housing – impact on lettings policy
  • A highlight of the current position for our health services
  • Some further updates about council services to add to all the earlier updates
  • Coronavirus Act – some examples of new powers
  • Signposting to further useful information
  • Command and control arrangements

Police Powers: In yesterday’s update, we provided a link to the statement from the chief constable. The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 came into force on 26 March 2020. These regulations provide a range of powers to enforce the social distancing policy of the government: instruct people to go home, leave an area or disperse; ensure parents are taking necessary steps to stop their children breaking these rules; issue a fixed penalty notice of £60, which will be lowered to £30 if paid within 14 days; issue a fixed penalty notice of £120 for second time offenders, doubling on each further repeat offence. To give you more of a feel for the approach WYP will be taking, here is a briefing note shared at the West Yorkshire Resilience Forum, which is based on the national approach:

  • For the legislation affecting premises and businesses which is primarily led by local authorities and trading standards, who are responsible for the enforcement of closures and prohibition notices in the normal manner. WYP will work closely with these partners to ensure they get the support that they need.
  • For the legislation relating to people’s ‘movements’ and ‘gatherings’, where the force priority will be to prevent any large gatherings.  If individuals or groups do not follow the government’s requirement to socially distance, our police response nationally will follow a four-step escalation process. This process enables our officers to exercise their professional judgement and make sensible decisions.
  • Engage – We police by consent. Our initial police response will be to encourage voluntary compliance.
  • Explain – We will stress that this is a national public health emergency. Explaining that they are putting their own and other people’s lives at risk, and that they are contributing to placing the NHS under more pressure.
  • Encourage – We will ask them politely to comply with our requests, informing them of the potential consequences should they fail to do so.
  • Enforce – We may use our powers under the new legislation. This includes the ability to issue fines, use reasonable force to remove someone to their home address, or to make an arrest.

 

Housing – lettings policy: In light of the Prime Minister’s statement on Monday, and the decision to increase social distancing measures across the country, Housing Leeds has made a decision to suspend lettings to Council homes via our Choice Based Lettings system, with immediate effect. Key points of reference for Members are as follows:

  • All Council homes advertised on the Leeds Homes website on 25 March will be withdrawn and will no longer be available for bidding.  A statement has been added to the website, and applicants who have already bid this week will be contacted to advise.
  • Where an applicant has already been offered a Council home in a previous bidding cycle, this offer will be honoured, but there may be some delays in the home becoming available.  If applicants have been offered a home, an officer will make contact with them in the next few days to discuss their individual circumstances and will be able to offer any further advice and support.  In most cases we will encourage applicants to delay their move if the applicant does not very urgently need to move.  We will support any applicants affected by self-isolation and delay viewings and sign up until an applicant is no longer self-isolating and strict social distancing measures have been lifted.  Where it is agreed to delay the tenancy start date, the applicant will not expected to pay rent until the delayed tenancy start date.
  • There will be no bidding cycle for the next few weeks.  The Leeds Homes website will be updated with any changes and all applicants with a live application will be contacted to advise when the next bidding cycle will start.
  • Only in very exceptional, critical circumstances will new allocations and lettings be made, where there is a serious risk to personal health and safety.  All allocations and lettings will be made via an urgent referral from another service – hospital, social worker, support agency – and considered via a Direct Let Panel.
  • If someone is currently homeless or facing the prospect of homelessness they can continue to access Housing Options services by calling 0113 2224412
  • We have developed some FAQs for customers which will be added to the Leeds Homes website.

Health update: We recognise the crucial work being done across the health system and know that you want to hear about that, so here are a few key highlights:

  • ICU beds – ​Areas of the hospital continue to be changed to increase the number of critical care beds. Capacity within LTHT is good with the number of COVID-19 positive patients needing care and every effort is being made to maximise the capacity in anticipation of a rise in demand over the coming weeks
  • Equipment – LTHT are working hard to source as much PPE and ventilators as possible. Procurement and supplies teams are linked with national supply chains to maximise the equipment needed for the Trust and the region. We are expecting a change in the national guidance to which staff should wear which PPE and LTHT expects sufficient supplies to be in place.
  • Testing – The laboratory in Leeds acts as a regional centre for testing. This is being used to capacity and inpatient testing remains the priority. LTHT is expecting support from PHE to increase the amount of testing that can be done and to begin testing of staff.
  • Regional partnerships – LTHT is working every day with other hospitals in the region through the WYAAT (West Yorkshire Association of Acute Trusts) to share plans and policies and monitor capacity and demand across the region.
  • GP practices in Leeds are now triaging patients first and in a position to run telephone and skype-like consultations both from the practice and in many cases at home, meaning even those self-isolating can continue to care.
  • The CCG has got most staff working from home to ensure business continuity, with huge effort and adaptation from everyone to achieve this.

Broader council update: We have been providing this on a continuous basis, so this is not a comprehensive picture. We will continue to provide these updates as the position becomes clear in each service area.

  • Culture and sport – all gym memberships fees paused, initially for a period of two months, debt collection paused; 430 voluntary sports clubs contacted to signpost them to sources of financial advice and assistance; web pages being built including wide range of online alternatives for home workouts, advice and tips on how to still be physically active; outbound calls to “Falls Prevention” participants to help them feel connected and encourage exercise at home, with signposting to additional help where needed; Leeds Curriculum resources being developed through My Learning and is available to schools but also to parents and carers who are now home-schooling; contacted more than 18,000 of the 23,000 people who purchase ticket for events in April; reassured all arts@leeds clients that their grants are secure, and are collating information on the impact across the sector; Breeze working with Child Friendly Leeds and Leeds Inspired to promote a wide range of online sessions and resources for families through Leeds Inspired and the Breeze social media channels
  • In line with national guidance, Death registrations are being taken by phone, and initial teething problems resolved
  • Continued work to check PPE stocks and source additional PPE
  • Some great examples of flexible use of our workforce with appropriate training and checking of qualifications/DBS etc: some Youth Service staff supporting into children’s residential homes and children’s centres; Nursery staff helping at Leeds Teaching Hospitals; some Cleaning & Catering Staff being moved to Leeds Teaching Hospitals; some Drivers from Passenger Transport being reallocated to Adults & Health; and working on getting more call handlers for the coronavirus line. Skills questionnaire to help with redeployment will go out today
  • We are likely to close Elland Road P&R as there are so few users
  • There was a statement issued about the managed approach on Friday
  • Public health colleagues, and a range of other colleagues, are working closely with institutions that have outbreaks
  • Incredible work being done in the contact centre in a very dynamic context and with everyone working from home
  • We continue to provide services to those who have no recourse to public funds given the nature of this outbreak and the risk to the broader population if we don’t
  • Significant work to house those rough-sleeping during the week, with an expectation that most are appropriately housed, including those who were in shared accommodation
  • Range of support services right across the council doing a great job to support the work of the front line, be that getting the technology right, supporting our workforce, taking account of new legislation, calculating the financial effect, communicating our messages as part of our warning and informing duties

Coronavirus Act: We provided links to the Bill earlier in the week, and you will see some of the new powers reflected in the update about the Police. Here is a summary of some of the new powers for some of our regulatory functions. Other colleagues are assessing the new powers relevant to their service area, and we can include other areas in future updates as that work takes place.

  • Enable any registered medical practitioner to issue a medical certificate of cause of death without having attended the deceased, provided they are sufficiently able from the available information to ascertain the cause of death.
  • Extend from 14 to 28 days the period which an attending medical practitioner must have seen the deceased prior to death.
  • Remove the requirement for the death to be reported to the coroner, when the certifying medical practitioner did not attend the deceased, in cases where another medical practitioner had seen the deceased within 28 days prior to death or has seen the body after death.
  • Remove the requirement for a death or still-birth informant to attend and provide details in person and the requirement for them to sign the register.
  • Extend the list of qualified informants to include a funeral director (where they are acting on behalf of the family).
  • Allow the electronic transfer of documents relating to the certification and registration process (e.g. transfer of the MCCD from the medical practitioner to the registrar and the form for burial or cremation (the Green), from the registrar to the relevant authority).
  • Permit cremations to proceed on the basis of one medical certificate (Cremation Form 4), without the requirement to also complete a confirmatory medical certificate (Cremation form 5).
  • While a notifiable death, it should be noted that COVID-19 is not a reason on its own to refer a death to a coroner under the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 and the Bill ensures there is no requirement for jury inquests into deaths which are suspected to have been caused by Covid-19. Though Coroners will retain the discretion to hold a jury inquest where they consider this appropriate.

Other useful information: Revised guidance continues to come out on gov.uk at a fast rate, last night there were updated pages for schools and settings, yesterday there was revised guidance for transport, today there is updated guidance for landlords, and there have been a range of new pages for businesses.  Our local webpages are also linked to gov.uk, so you can use Coronavirus webpages to link to local and national information. The Local Government Association is hosting useful coronavirus information on their website to aid local authorities. The site includes links to government as well as bespoke local authority material.

Command and control arrangements: We mentioned in an earlier update that along with all our West Yorkshire councils, the local resilience forum and key partners that we are running this as a major incident. There is lots of new language that comes with this because each organisation has arrangements that all fit together with important multi-agency arrangements to ensure that the whole system is co-ordinated and has clear leadership. In one of our updates next week, we will try to set this out for you, including how this feeds into the national system.

Voluntary Action Leeds 0113 297 7920 (for offers to help)
LCC volunteer helpline 0113 378 1877 (for people needing help)
Adult social care 0113 222 4401
Benefits 0113 222 4404
Bins and recycling 0113 222 4406
Births, deaths and marriages 0113 222 4408
Child protection concerns 0113 222 4403
Council housing 0800 188 4000
Council tax 0113 222 4404
Environmental health 0113 222 4406
General enquiries 0113 222 4444
Help for adults being abused or neglected 0113 222 4401
Homelessness and housing advice 0113 222 4412
Schools 0113 222 4414
Parking 0113 378 5000
Pavements, roads and travel 0113 222 4407
Planning 0113 222 4409
Emergencies and out of hours Go to the Council’s Emergency contact page on the website www.leeds.gov.uk