'We stand ready to respond' - statement from Cllr Louise Gittins, Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council, on proposed national restrictions

2 November 2020

"The Government has announced further restrictions designed to tackle the latest escalation of COVID-19. The messages from national and local experts are clear - we need to take rapid action to save lives and support our NHS. All of us will be required to stay at home wherever possible and, with a heavy heart, we will see non-essential retail, large parts of hospitality, and leisure services close. Subject to Parliamentary approval these measures will be active from Thursday, 5 November, through to 2nd December.

"We stand ready to respond and I wanted to set out our approach through our six-point plan.

"Our first priority is to get vital help and support to our residents. Working with community organisations and other local agencies we will support those households and individuals who will feel isolated. We will make further efforts to get out information and assistance to support people with their mental wellbeing. People who are clinically vulnerable will be written to by the government and following government guidance we will assist where possible. Alongside the NHS we will provide support to keep people independent over the winter months and to make care homes as a safe as possible. 

"Secondly, we will support our businesses through this. We will make government grants available to them at the earliest opportunity, once government guidance has been issued. We will continue to share information with our businesses on the support that is available, including furloughing and other local financial assistance. We will also support businesses to prepare to reopen safely once restrictions are eased. For people who find themselves unemployed we have help in place through our work zones and other programmes to support with retraining, financial hardship, and getting back into work.

"Third, we will continue to work closely with our schools so that children and young people can continue to access learning in a safe environment. This is vital to the wellbeing of our younger generation. Our staff in education and public health will work closely with all schools to maintain safety and provide reassurance to our young people, families and school staff.

"Fourth, we will continue to deliver vital services to support the borough. We will need to close leisure centres and our museums, and we are awaiting guidance on other facilities, but our aim is that the vast majority of our services will continue to be operational. Further detail will be added to our website. I also want to emphasise that the NHS is open for business and that local people must continue to access the help they need. This is really important and we don't want to see people deterred from accessing treatment, care and support.

"Fifth, communication and ongoing engagement is key. This is a fast-moving environment and will affect all of us so it is vital you have the latest information. As well as constantly updating our website we will be very active on social media, through the local media and staff in our call centre will be available to provide you with the latest information. They can be reached on: 0300 123 7031. We will discuss the latest situation at our outbreak board on Wednesday, 4 November, which can be viewed online. We also have a network of local people known as community champions who will be critical to getting information out and also feeding back to us the latest situation. If you are interested in being involved please let us know. Our councillors will also be very active to offer support, information and guidance.

"Finally, we will not lose sight of our plan to move out of these restrictions. We need an exit strategy. Our mission to turn this around still stands. We can all play a part. Our local test and trace system continues to develop with more testing sites now available and we will put further resources into local contact tracing. We will continue to make the case for more of this system to be localised. But all of us can make a difference and our messages around hands, face and space are as important as ever. We also have been developing plans for the medium-term recovery and renewal of the borough as restrictions are eased.

"Despite the obvious challenges we have in the short term, we will turn this around. I remain optimistic about our borough, our strong communities and our local economy. The efforts of local people have been inspiring throughout this crisis and I know this will see us through. 

"Stay safe, be kind and above all let's all play our part to turn this around."

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