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Free meals for school children during half term

The council will be giving out free meals to children during the October half term (26 - 30 October)

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What is Coronavirus?

Coronavirus is a type of virus. As a group, Coronaviruses are common across the world but this is a new strain which has developed called COVID-19.

What are the signs and symptoms?

The symptoms are a high temperature and a new, continuous cough but can also include sneezing and shortage of breath. In some cases, this may progress to a severe pneumonia causing shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.

Generally, Coronavirus can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.

I’m concerned I could catch it so how does Coronavirus spread?

Because it's a new illness, we do not know exactly how it spreads from person to person, but similar viruses spread by cough droplets or sneeze droplets. How long any respiratory virus survives will depend on a number of factors. Under most circumstances, the amount of infectious virus on any contaminated surfaces is likely to have decreased significantly by 24 hours and even more so by 48 hours.

Can the virus survive on cargo that has arrived from an affected area?

There is currently no evidence to suggest that the virus can be transmitted from post or packages.

What can I do to reduce my risk of catching Coronavirus?

The best way to protect ourselves from infections like Coronavirus is to wash our hands frequently for 20 seconds with soap and warm water or use a sanitiser gel, as well as always carrying tissues and using them to catch coughs and sneezes, then putting the tissue in a bin.

There are things you can do to help stop germs like Coronavirus spreading:

  • Always carry tissues with you and use them to catch your cough or sneeze. Then bin the tissue, and wash your hands, or use a sanitiser gel.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after using public transport. Use a sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are unwell.

If you are concerned that you are unwell or unsure about your symptoms, the NHS advice line is 111.

Should people wear face masks to protect themselves from infection?

The government has recommended people using public transport wear face coverings. From 24 July, face masks or covers to must be worn when visiting shops, supermarkets, shopping centres, and other indoor locations in line with the latest regulations. Face masks must be worn correctly, changed frequently, removed properly and disposed of safely in order to be effective.

Coronavirus in Stevenage

The Government has now moved us to the ‘delay’ phase in the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. People with symptoms include a new, continuous cough and/or a temperature (37.8 degrees and above) and are advised to isolate for fourteen days. Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.

The main messages are:

  • If you have symptoms of Coronavirus infection (COVID-19), however mild, stay at home and do not leave your house for 14 days from when your symptoms started (this action will help slow the spread of infection). This is regardless of whether you have travelled to affected.
  • Plan ahead and ask others for help to ensure you can successfully stay at home.
  • Stay at least 1 metre or more away from other people in your home whenever possible.
  • Wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds, each time using soap and warm water.
  • Stay away from vulnerable individuals, such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, as much as possible.
  • You do not need to call NHS 111 to go into self-isolation. If your symptoms worsen during home isolation or are no better after 7 days contact NHS 111 online. If you have no internet access, you should call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial.

Test and Trace

The national NHS ‘Test and Trace’ programme is in operation in Hertfordshire. This means that if you have a test which shows that you have Coronavirus, you will be contacted by someone from the NHS Test and Trace team. You will be told that you must self-isolate for 14 days and will be asked to supply the details of anyone you have been in close contact with, from the two days before your symptoms started. Those people will then also be contacted by the NHS Test and Trace team and told that they need to self-isolate for 14 days.

Genuine contract tracers will:

  • Call you from 0300 013 5000.
  • Send you text messages from ‘NHS’.
  • Ask you to sign into the NHS Test and Trace website.
  • Ask for your full name and date of birth to confirm your identity, and postcode to offer support while self-isolating.
  • Ask about the Coronavirus symptoms you have been experiencing.
  • Ask you to provide the name, telephone number and/or email address of anyone you have had close contact with from the two days before your symptoms started.
  • Ask if anyone you have been in contact with is under 18 or lives outside of England.

You will never be asked to disclose bank details or ring an expensive phone number beginning with 09 or 087 by a genuine Test and Trace team.

Improved access to test booking

Anyone in Hertfordshire with suspected Coronavirus symptoms can book either a mail-order or drive-through test if they need one. For those who can't go online to book a test at GOV.UK or for anyone who needs additional help, a new telephone call centre is available.

119 between 7am and 11pm or 18001

0300 303 2713, if you have hearing or speech difficulties.

The Coronavirus call centre can help you to book a test, answer your enquiries about the testing process and what to do once you have your result, or chase up any delayed results.

Hertfordshire’s mobile test sites are all open between 10am and 4pm. Please take a phone to the test centre if you have one.

  • Thursdays in Watford at the Central Watford Leisure Centre, WD17 3HA
  • Saturdays in Hertford at County Hall, Pegs Lane, SG13 8DQ
  • Sundays in Watford at the Central Watford Leisure Centre, WD17 3HA
  • Mondays in Stevenage, off Six Hills Way, SG1 2DF *

* So that you do not join a queue for the Household Waste Recycling Centre, please follow the signs to the test centre.

What is the Rule of Six?

When seeing friends and family you do not live with you should:

  • meet in groups of six or less;
  • follow social distancing rules;
  • limit how many different people you see socially over a short period of time; and
  • meet people outdoors where practical.

Meeting people outdoors is safer than meeting people indoors because fresh air provides better ventilation.

Limits on the number of people you can see socially have changed. From Monday 14 September, when meeting friends and family you do not live with you must not meet in a group of more than six, indoors or outdoors. This is against the law and the police will have the powers to enforce these legal limits, including to issue fines (fixed penalty notices) of £100, doubling for further breaches up to a maximum of £3,200.

There are exceptions where groups can be larger than 6 people:

  • For work, or the provision of voluntary or charitable services.
  • Registered childcare, education or training.
  • Supervised activities provided for children, including wraparound care, youth groups and activities, and children’s playgroups.
  • Providing support to a vulnerable person.
  • Providing emergency assistance, and to avoid injury or illness or to escape risk of harm.
  • For arrangements where children do not live in the same household as both their parents.
  • Fulfilling a legal obligation, such as attending court or jury service.
  • Elite sporting competition and training.
  • Wedding and civil partnership ceremonies and receptions - up to 30 people, in a public place.
  • Funerals - up to 30 people. This does not include wakes, other than for religious ceremonial purposes.
  • Other religious and belief-based life cycle ceremonies - up to 30 people, in a public place. This only covers the ceremonies, and does not include celebrations of these events.
  • Organised sport or exercises classes or licensed outdoor physical activity. This does not include informal sport or fitness activity with family or friends - this must be limited to a group of six.
  • Support groups - formally organised groups to provide mutual aid, therapy or any other form of support. This includes support to victims of crime, recovering addicts, new parents, and people with long-term illnesses, those facing issues relating to their sexuality or gender, and those who have suffered.
  • Protests - if organised in compliance with COVID-19 Secure guidance.

Where a group includes someone covered by such an exception (for example, someone who is working), they are not counted as part of the gatherings limit. This means - for example - a trades person can go into a household of six without breaching the limit, if they are there for work.

Latest rules on events

Here is the government’s latest guide on events.

Events within the context of Public Worship

Events which take place within the context of public worship (i.e. a Remembrance event at the start of a public act of worship in a recognised place of worship or outdoors) or regular acts of worship which have a remembrance theme to them should follow the guidance on public worship.

Keeping workers and audiences safe during COVID-19 (England) has been prepared by the Events Industry Forum with input from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and in consultation with Public Health England (PHE) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The Purple Guide has been written by The Events Industry Forum in consultation with the events industry. Its aim is to help those event organisers who are duty holders to manage health and safety, particularly at large-scale music and similar events.

© 2020 Stevenage Borough Council