COVID-19 isn’t going away, and we are in the middle of a second lockdown. Here is a selection of news and information around the lockdown specifically, to help organisations, and inform people about what’s allowed.

This is in addition to the support information that has already been provided to help residents, and our Winter Workforce Wellbeing strand, which we hope will help staff and volunteers in the VCSE sector as we buckle up for a long hard winter.

NPC’s newsletter

NPC ‘s November newsletter arrived yesterday, and has so much useful info in it that it’s easier to link to it, rather than trying to choose which bits to share. – You can see it here.

The intro has links to their resources from the last lockdown, and new information for this time around, plus they include thoughts on how the sector can rethink and rebuild.

Face masks exemptions

While face masks are being strongly encouraged in shops, on public transport, in school corridors and in work places, there is still a lack of awareness of genuine reasons that people may not be wearing masks.

These are the the people or groups who do not have to wear a face mask in England:

  • Children under 11
  • Those unable to put on or wear a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or disability
  • People for whom wearing or removing a face covering will cause severe distress
  • Anyone assisting someone who relies on lip reading to communicate

The BBC had an article at the start of November about people who were unable to wear masks and were facing victimisation because of it, and is encouraging understanding of those who genuinely cannot wear a mask, while sharing information to counter the mis-information being spread by anti-maskers who do not believe it is necessary to wear one.

High streets are still open – protect your local economy

Essential high street shops remain open with safety measures in place

Cornwall’s high streets are doing everything they can to help keep you safe when you’re shopping for essentials during the lockdown.

Many shops like greengrocers, chemists, butchers, bakers, off licences and takeaway food outlets remain open or offer click and collect or online services.

Help support them by shopping for what you need locally.

Visits to Care Homes

The rules on visiting care homes have been changed, with new guidance published on 5 November. The headlines are:

  • Visits should be tailored to residents and facilities and should prioritise residents and staff’s safety to limit the transmission of COVID-19
  • Care homes, especially those who have not allowed visits since March, will be encouraged and supported to provide safe visiting opportunities as new national restrictions come into effect
  • Measures put in place should provide COVID-secure opportunities for families to meet using visiting arrangements such as floor to ceiling screens, visiting pods, and window visits

You can read the full guidance on the Gov.uk website.

In addition, a pilot scheme, operating in 20 care homes, (including some in Cornwall) has been launched this week, planning a wider roll out in December.

Family members or friends of those living in care homes will be given regular testing to reunite them with their loved ones in care homes.

Regular testing will be offered to one family member or friend per resident, which – when combined with other infection-control measures such as PPE – will support meaningful visits. These will enable, where possible, indoor visits without a screen to take place while reducing the risk to care home residents, staff and visitors.

Visitors will be offered either PCR tests which they can do at home, or the new 30-minute rapid lateral flow tests (LFTs), which can be administered in person at care homes before a visit.

You can read the Government’s press statement on the new pilot here.

Lockdown 2 in prisons and for probation

Jo Farrar, CEO of HMPPS has given an update on probation services following the additional Covid-19 restrictions commencing on 5th November.

“In the probation service, our aim is to continue to deliver our core probation services under our established exceptional delivery framework, as we have been doing over recent months, prioritising public protection and risk management. We will follow the principles of our Roadmap to Recovery, while protecting the health and well-being of our staff and service users by following public health advice.

“Our Regional Probation Directors and CRC CEOs will continue to make decisions on how to best deliver probation services in regions based on local circumstances and staffing levels and adjusting their exceptional delivery plans as needed.  We will continue to deliver Accredited Programmes and Unpaid Work wherever possible, consistent with government and public health guidance. Our Approved Premises will also remain open, with amendments to how they operate where necessary.”

Jo Farrar’s statement on prisons:

“In the prison service, our Covid-19 National Framework commits us to keep reviewing the balance of risks we face …During the period of the national restrictions we will need to temporarily pause social visits to adults at all sites in England. There will be exemptions for compassionate reasons which can be approved by a Governor locally. We will continue to prioritise supporting video calls for prisoners and their loved ones to encourage continued contact during the restrictions period. Official visits – such as access to legal advice – will continue although remote access through telephone or video conferencing should be used as a priority. Support to Offender Management and Parole Board activity remotely and face to face should continue where safe to do so.

“Our other priorities that we will continue to deliver are: access to exercise and education areas; continued delivery of workshops where these have been reopened since March; structured wing activities and one to one sessions between prisoners and their key workers; particularly for those who are vulnerable or high risk. Other activities such as corporate worship, library attendance or access to barbering/hairdressing will be suspended in line with community restrictions, as in Welsh prisons during the Wales firebreak. However, exceptions can be made if removing an activity would cause significant harm to the wellbeing of an individual and these will be agreed on a case by case basis. We will continue to offset the impact of regime restrictions by offering free PIN credit, supplementary food packs, and payments for those not able to access work.”