As 2020 draws to a close, we recognise it has been an incredibly difficult year for us all. We have all had to make significant sacrifices in our everyday lives, and many religious and community groups have already had to change or forgo their customary celebrations to slow the spread of coronavirus and save lives.
This cannot be a ‘normal’ Christmas. But as we approach the festive period, we have been working closely together to find a way for family and friends to see each other, even if it is for a short time, and recognising that it must be both limited and cautious.
Even where it is within the rules, meeting with friends and family over Christmas will be a personal judgement for individuals to take, mindful of the risks to themselves and others, particularly those who are vulnerable. We need everyone to think carefully about what they do during this period, balancing some increased social contact with the need to keep the risk of increased transmission of the virus as low as possible.
This is particularly important when considering those who are vulnerable, and before deciding to come together over the festive period we urge the consideration of alternative approaches such as the use of technology or meeting outside.
The Government has therefore agreed that:
- Travel restrictions across the four administrations and between tiers will be lifted to provide a window for households to come together between the 23rd and 27th of December.
- Up to three households can form an exclusive ‘bubble’ to meet at home during this period. When a bubble is formed it is fixed, and must not be changed or extended further at any point.
- Each Christmas bubble can meet at home, at a place of worship or an outdoor public place, but existing, more restrictive rules on hospitality and meeting in other venues will be maintained throughout this period.
The winter holiday period is a time often spent with family and friends, with schools and offices closing and people travelling over the bank holidays. Many have already begun making their plans, and we are today providing clarity to help people make the right choices for them, and enjoy time with those closest to them while staying within the rules to protect us all.
The current national restriction rules are still in place until 2 December and must be followed until they expire.
Find out more: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
Croydon Council has today issued a section 114 notice due to the severe ongoing financial challenges facing the authority.
This significant step will mean all new non-essential spending will be stopped while an emergency budget is drawn up to find further savings in this and the coming years.
In a letter to councillors, finance director Lisa Taylor outlined the serious issues facing the council including a potential budget shortfall in the current financial year of around £66m.
Issuing the notice is recognition that despite all efforts to do so the council cannot now balance its budget this year, which it is required to do by law.
The council had previously acknowledged its worsening financial situation, and has set in train a number of improvement and savings programmes to help put it back on a stable financial footing.
It is also in talks with the government about the financial support necessary to balance the budget and transform the council.
What does the S114 notice mean for council services?
It means that no new expenditure is permitted, with the exception of that funding statutory services, including safeguarding vulnerable people, although existing commitments and contracts will continue to be honoured.
Council officers must therefore carry out their duties in line with contractual obligations and to acceptable standards, while being aware of the financial situation. Any spending that is not essential or which can be postponed should not take place and essential spend will be monitored.
The only allowable expenditure permitted under an emergency protocol would include the following categories:
- existing staff payroll and pension costs
- expenditure on goods and services which have already been received
- expenditure required to deliver the council’s provision of statutory services at a minimum possible level
- urgent expenditure required to safeguard vulnerable citizens
- expenditure required through existing legal agreements and contracts
- expenditure funded through ring-fenced grants
- expenditure necessary to achieve value for money or mitigate additional in-year costs
The council will have 21 days from the issue of a Section 114 notice to discuss the implications at a meeting of full council.
From Thursday 5 November, England will enter another lockdown period which will last until Wednesday 2 December.
The new measures are as follows:
You should only leave the house for these reasons:
- for education
- for work, if you cannot work from home
- for exercise and recreation outdoors
- for medical reasons
- to shop for food and essentials
- to care for others
You can only meet one person from outside your household outdoors.
There will be no mixing of people inside homes, except for childcare and other forms of support. Support bubbles will be allowed to continue.
All pubs and restaurants are to close, though takeaways and deliveries will be permitted.
All non-essential retail will close, though click and collect will still be available.
Travel within the UK is discouraged, except for work.
Overnight stays away from home will be allowed only for work purposes.
Courts, schools, and universities will remain open.
Private prayer will continue in places of worship, but not services.
From Saturday 17 October, Croydon and Bromley are to be placed on Tier 2 (High Alert) covid-19 lockdown measures.
The rules for Tier 2 (High Alert) lockdown measures are as follows:
You may not meet in a group of more than six people, indoors or outdoors, unless you’re in a larger household or a support bubble.
You are not allowed to meet socially with people you do not live with indoors – this includes private homes, as well as pubs or restaurants.
You can still meet friends and family outdoors, but only in a group of up to six people.
People in support bubbles can go on meeting as before and informal childcare may also be provided.
Pubs, bars and restaurants must close by 10.00pm.
The new NHS COVID-19 app, now available to download for free, is the fastest way to see if you’re at risk from coronavirus. The faster you know, the quicker you can alert and protect your loved ones and community.
The app has a number of tools to protect you, including contact tracing, local area alerts and venue check-in. It uses proven technology from Apple and Google, designed to protect every user’s privacy.
Anyone aged 16 and over is being asked to install the app on to their smartphone.
The app instructs users to self-isolate for 14 days if it detects they were nearby someone who has the virus. It also has a check-in scanner to alert owners if a venue they have visited is found to be an outbreak hotspot.
The app is available for smartphones only – not tablets, smartwatches or other devices.
To get started, go to Android’s Google Play or Apple’s App Store and search for “NHS Covid-19“.
The handsets must have Android 6.0 (released in 2015) or iOS 13.5 (released in May 2020) and Bluetooth 4.0 or higher. That excludes the iPhone 6 and older versions of Apple’s handsets.