Easing of coronavirus restrictions resumes

The Government has announced it will resume the easing of lockdown restrictions from tomorrow (Saturday 15 August).

The following businesses and services will now be allowed to reopen, as long as they can follow Covid-19 secure guidelines:

  • casinos
  • skating rinks
  • bowling alleys
  • indoor play areas, including soft play areas
  • indoor performances
  • remaining close contact services, including any treatments on the face such as eyebrow threading or make-up application
  • wedding receptions and celebrations for up to 30 people, in the form of a sit-down meal

Read the latest Coronavirus outbreak FAQs to find out more about what you currently can and cannot do.

Advice on travelling in vehicles

With more people returning to work and school or visiting destinations, the number of journeys being made by car is increasing.

Ideally the Government would like you not to share a car with people outside of your household or support bubble, but they know this may prove difficult.

They have issued the guidance below which you are asked to follow when sharing a car with someone outside of your household:

  • Share your vehicle with the same people every time
  • Open windows for ventilation
  • Wear a face covering during the journey
  • Maximise distance between people in the vehicle – e.g. leave some seats free
  • Clean your vehicle between journeys including door handles and other areas that people may touch

This guidance only applies to private vehicles. There is separate guidance for taxis.

Follow the rules so we can get back to normal

The Government has set an ambition to scale back social distancing restrictions from November. To allow this to happen we need to continue to drive down the number of infections.

You can play your part in helping us all get back to normal, by following social distancing rules:

Hands – wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds with soap and water or use an alcohol-based sanitiser if that is not possible

Face – wear a face covering in shops and other enclosed public spaces where social distancing is difficult, and you will be mixing with people you would not normally meet.

Space – keep a safe distance from those outside of your household or support bubble, at least 1 metre

If you have symptoms you should self-isolate immediately and book a free test online or call 119.

You should also self-isolate if you are asked to do so by NHS Test and Trace.

Read the guidance on how to self-isolate with a possible coronavirus infection

Read our guide on how to use face coverings safely

Some people do not have to wear face coverings by law. If this applies to you then the Government has made exemption cards available which you can print off.

Download face covering exemption cards

Be aware of those who have finished shielding

Shielding for those at increased risk from coronavirus due to certain health conditions, ended on 1 August. We know many people remain nervous or worried about going out and shopping or returning to normal life.

The Distance Aware scheme provides optional badges people can wear to show other people they may have difficulties or concerns maintaining social distancing, and to ask them to give them space.

Download give me space badges

We ask everyone to be mindful of the fact that others may not be as comfortable as you may be with the easing of lockdown restrictions, and to be courteous and considerate to each other.

Join the nation for a silent tribute to the fallen on VJ Day

Tomorrow (Saturday 15 August) marks 75 years since victory over Japan in the Second World War, or VJ Day as it has come to be known.

There will be a day of commemorations to mark this event including:

  • A two minute silence at 11am led by HRH The Prince of Wales
  • A powerful re-telling of the story of Victory Over Japan will be broadcast on BBC One with tributes led by His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge
  • Veterans of the Far East campaign will be present at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire to remember fallen comrades
  • The Red Arrows will take to the skies for a stunning UK-wide flypast

You can get involved in the following ways:

  • Join in the national two minute silence at 11am
  • Share your family’s stories on social media with the hashtag #VJDay75
  • Find out more about VJ Day by downloading the activity sheets and resources on the official VJ Day website

Many of those who fought in the Far East during the Second World War, came home to find their country had moved on without them.

Please don’t let them be forgotten again tomorrow.

Shop local and support your high street

This week we have been highlighting the many wonderful local traders we are blessed with in our district as part of Shop Local Week.

You can view the campaign on our Facebook page.

Here are 8 reasons why you should shop local:

Help the high street and support the local economy

Shopping at local businesses pumps money into the local economy, and by spending money in their local shop, restaurant, café or pub, shoppers can do their bit to aid our national recovery across the country.

Save jobs – and create even more

Supporting our high streets creates jobs in local communities, supporting often young and disadvantaged people to find employment. Helping to grow the number of jobs in our local areas makes for a better place to live and work, which then creates a healthy economy for the community.

Great deals

People might be surprised to see just how competitive the prices are in your local shops. Independent retailers often reward regular customers, while others often provide great deals that can’t be found in major outlets – meaning people save money as they spend. Consumers can also save money eating out – the Eat Out to Help Out discount scheme is being provided by the Government, saving diners up to £10 per head on eat-in meals on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays in one of the 73,000 participating businesses. There are more than 100 taking part in Wychavon. Use the online restaurant finder.

A safe way to shop

Businesses across the district have been following government guidance and implementing a range of measures to ensure people are safe while they shop, such as customer limits inside the store, plastic partitions at tills and hand sanitising stations.

We have also introduced our S.A.F.E code to help people follow the rules and look after each other while shopping locally. Public hand sanitiser units are now installed in high streets across our district.

Working with Worcestershire County Council, we have also granted pavement licences to many businesses to allow outside dining.

Preserving the heart of the community

A thriving high street is key to boosting the potential of a village or town where people can socialise as well as shop. Local businesses also generate revenue to support council services such as libraries, parks and roads that benefit communities across the UK.

Spoilt for choice

Small and local businesses often stock items which are made locally and aren’t available elsewhere else, providing a great range of choice and unique products that bring much-needed originality and variety into communities – including rare finds and items that aren’t mass produced.

A better shopping experience

Small businesses are often run by people who live nearby. As the UK continues to recover from the pandemic, the experience of buying locally from a friendly face offers a dose of normality that many people may have missed.

Help the environment

Local shops often source their goods locally, helping to reduce their carbon footprint. When shopping local, people are also more likely to walk or cycle to get there – doing their bit to reduce air pollution, reduce traffic and improve the quality of the nation’s high streets.

New crowdfunding initiative set to boost funding for local projects

Charities and local organisations in Worcestershire are to get a helping hand with new projects thanks to an exciting funding scheme being launched by the County Council.

The initiative, called Crowdfund Worcestershire, has been launched to help local organisations gain funding through Spacehive, a crowdfunding platform.

Worcestershire County Council, keen to build on the success of its Here2Help community campaign, has set up the initiative to give anyone who lives locally who might have ideas about how to improve their community the opportunity to gain much needed funding.

The Council will be working with Spacehive on the initiative and has an initial funding pot of £85,000 which they hope will at least double for the projects through the crowdfunding they will carry out themselves, with help and support along the way from Spacehive.

Councillor Lucy Hodgson, Cabinet Member with Responsibility for Communities, said: “It’s great that we’re able to continue the community spirit generated from Here 2 Help, it has proven really successful, and we must hold on to it, as we look forward to the future and the recovery phase.

“Crowdfund Worcestershire is a great way for everyone to come together and help their local communities in whatever way they can.  Working in this way means that we’re able to do a better job of offering grant funding that can be increased with support from local residents and businesses, in order to better help those who need it. Local people are best placed to understand the challenges and opportunities in their local area and this model puts them and their ideas in the driving seat.”

The first round looks to support organisations in their bid to help in the county’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. The County Council is keen to hear from organisations that have project ideas which need financial backing around the following five key areas:

    • Food Poverty – predominately focused on families
    • Social isolation/befriending – looking at virtual community connections / or adapted schemes that comply with social distancing.
    • Return to work – helping people prepare for a return to work or helping them into work.
    • Maintaining our volunteering offer – helping to create a legacy of community and volunteer action post Covid-19.
    • Healthy Communities – activities to improve the health and wellbeing of your local community

Spacehive is a funding platform that brings together people, businesses, councils and foundations to collaboratively fund projects that communities want.

In addition to county wide project creators having the opportunity to pitch for the £85,000, available for ideas that support the wider county’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, organisations in Malvern Hills and Wychavon will also have the chance to tap into pledges for community based transport projects.

This funding, via the same Spacehive platform, will be led by Malvern Hills and Wychavon District Councils and there’s pledges of up to £50,000 up for grabs for this first round.

Charities and local organisations are being encouraged to create a project on Spacehive and pitch for a pledge via the Crowdfund Worcestershire platform by 30th September, by clearly outlining how they may be able to help maintain progress in the above key areas.

Spacehive will lead a programme of events for anyone who is interested in learning a little bit more or might want to discuss ideas that they would like to put forward. Free online events are taking place on the 13th August and 4th September. To book a place on these events, visit https://www.spacehive.com/movement/worcs/news

To find out more information about Crowdfunding Worcestershire, please visit the https://www.spacehive.com/movement/worcs or email CrowdFundWorcs@worcestershire.gov.uk

Lockdown easing delayed

Due to a rise in infection rates across England, the Government has today announced it is delaying further easing of lockdown restrictions.

Read the Prime Minister’s announcement on coronavirus 31 July 2020

What’s not changing

The following restrictions will remain in place for at least another fortnight and won’t be eased from tomorrow (1 August 2020) as planned:

  • Bowling alleys, skating rinks and casinos must remain closed
  • Conference and exhibition centres must remain closed
  • Indoor performances of live events are not allowed
  • Small wedding receptions with sit-down meals of no more than 30 people are not allowed
  • Close contact services such as facial treatment and make up application are not allowed
  • Trials allowing fans to attend sporting events will now not take place

What’s changing

Restrictions on those who have been shielding, will still be lifted from 1 August. Particular care should be taken to follow social distancing guidelines when meeting people.

New rules on face coverings

From 8 August it will be a legal requirement to wear face masks in:

  • Cinemas
  • Museums
  • Galleries
  • Places of worship

You already must wear face coverings in:

  • Shops
  • Banks and building societies
  • Supermarkets
  • Post offices
  • Public transport

Hands, face, space, test

We all have a role to play in keeping the virus under control. You can help by remembering hands, face, space, test

  • Hands – wash them regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or sanitise them with an alcohol-based hand sanitiser if that’s not possible
  • Face – wear a face covering in enclosed public spaces where social distancing is not possible and you will be mixing with lots of different people you would not normally meet
  • Space – keep a safe distance from others
  • Test – if you have symptoms, get yourself a free test and follow self-isolation rules. You can get a test online or call 119

If you have symptoms or have tested positive for coronavirus you will need to self-isolate for at least 10 days.

What to do if you have symptoms?

Advice on staying at home (self-isolating)

Eat Out to Help Out

On Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays during August you can get a 50% discount, up to £10 per person, off food and soft drinks at participating restaurants. The discount only applies if you are eating in. There is no minimum spend and it can be used more than once.

Find an Eat Out to Help Out restaurant near you

Get in shape to help you fight covid-19

Gaining weight is often a gradual process – it happens over the years as a result of modern-day life and the odd unhealthy habit.

Extra weight causes fat to build up around vital organs, making it harder for the body to fight against diseases like cancer, heart disease and now covid-19.

If you are overweight or living with obesity, lowering your weight can help reduce your risk of developing serious diseases.

You can learn more about obesity, and get support, from Obesity UK, the leading charity dedicated to supporting people living with obesity.

Help available to you

The NHS Better Health website has lots of support available including:

  • A free 12 week weight loss programme you can download to your device
  • Links to other paid for weight loss plans
  • Couch 2 Fitness – 9 week exercise programme
  • Free online fitness videos

Parking charges to return from Monday

Our free parking offer is coming to an end. From Monday, 3 August, charges will apply. You can pay using your mobile phone or with coins. If you do pay with coins we advise you to wash or sanitise your hands aferwards.

Parking will continue to be free for NHS staff, social care staff and official community volunteers (those attached to volunteer centres or similar organisations) while carrying out their duties. Appropriate evidence must be displayed (e.g a copy of an ID badge with sensitive information removed or an official letter).

Financial support available for you

Advice and support if you have lost your job

Help paying your Council Tax

If you are struggling to pay your Council Tax, then check if you can apply for Council Tax Support

If you do not qualify for Council Tax Support please get in touch with our team and they will see if there is another way they can help you.

Email Revenues@southworcestershirerevenues.gov.uk to discuss your situation.

Ban on evictions extended

The Government has extended the ban on landlords being able to evict people renting their home until 23 August. Read the full announcement.

Citizens’ Advice is open for business

Citizens’ Advice South Worcestershire also remains open to support you if you need it. They offer one-to-one advice by highly trained volunteers, now working from home. Many are specialists in their fields such as housing, employment and debt.

You can contact their Wychavon branch in Evesham on 01386 712 100, choosing Option 1 or email admin.wychavon@citizensadvicesw.org.uk

Option 2 is dedicated to the Universal Credit Support Service.

The service is also part of the national Advice Line telephone service, open to the public Monday to Friday from 10am to 4pm on 03444 111 303.

Money management help

If you would like help to make the most of your money then the two online budgeting toolkits below may be useful.

Money Saving Expert Budget Planning Guide

Money Advice Service Budget Planner

If you need help with debt management or restructuring your finances then contact the CAB using the details above or you can get free help from The Money Advice Service.

Help paying your utility bills

If you need help paying your water bill then please visit Severn Trent’s bill help payment page.

If you need help paying your gas or electric bill then read Ofgem’s advice about the support on offer.