North Somerset Council Latest Information on the National Lockdown January 2021

Published: 18 January 2021

Dear all

This week we have seen the number of coronavirus cases identified in the last seven days reach a new peak not previously seen during the pandemic.

The other areas of our local health service footprint – Bristol and South Gloucestershire – are also experiencing growing numbers this week with the combined effect of increased pressure on acute health services. We have been in the latest lockdown for 10 days now, so we should see the effects of this beginning to come through in the case numbers next week, but it will be weeks before the pressure on health services begins to ease.

If you need help from the NHS contact 111 first, by phone or online, for immediate assistance. Remember, in North Somerset we have the minor injuries unit in Clevedon as well as the emergency department at Weston Hospital. Use 999 for emergencies.

It’s tough right now for everyone, but every day that goes by is a day closer to the end of the pandemic. By 1 February we will have 81 more daylight minutes than we did on the shortest day and before we know it, the weather will be warmer and signs of spring will appear.

Latest case data

896 new cases have been identified compared with 800 the previous week. Our case rate per 100,000 head of population currently stands at 416.6 compared with a South West figure of 390.1 and an England rate of 622.3.

There is a lag in case data meaning the latest information is for the week ending Saturday 9 January.

These rates are the highest we have seen in North Somerset since the pandemic began.

You can see more detail on our local case data at www.n-somerset.gov.uk/lomp.

Case data is also available at national, regional, council and neighbourhood level at https://coronavirus.data.gov.uk/cases

Vaccination rollout – mass vaccination centre

The NHS is inviting eligible people on a phased basis, as supplies of the vaccine allow, to get vaccinated at the new mass vaccination centre at Ashton Gate, Bristol. It’s important that you wait for your letter from the NHS, as you will not be able to book without one.

If you have received a letter and live with someone who is also eligible but has not received a letter, it’s likely that theirs will follow shortly. If you like you can wait and book at the same time.

The NHS has confirmed the seven mass vaccination centres (including Ashton Gate in Bristol) are an additional option for people to get vaccinated if it is convenient for them.

If you have received a letter inviting you to book and you would prefer to be vaccinated at one of the local vaccination centres, you can wait to hear from your GP surgery in the coming weeks. Please do not contact them, they will contact you.

Covid testing

North Somerset Rapid Testing – testing if you don’t have Covid symptoms

If you don't have symptoms of coronavirus and would like to get tested you can from next week as we are extending our rapid testing to the community.

Anyone living or working in North Somerset can have a test, but we particularly encourage critical workers and volunteers in roles which bring them into contact with the community to get tested.

The aim is to support everyone who cannot work from home in the current lockdown as they deliver key services like childcare, transport, essential shopping, and looking after vulnerable people.

Community testing to find people who have Covid-19 with no symptoms is helpful as they can then isolate and prevent the virus from spreading.

The first testing site will launch at Somerset Hall, Portishead, on Monday (18 January). It will be open seven days a week from 9am-5pm for pre-booked appointments.

A second site is expected to follow soon, with information announced when the details are finalised.

For more information about testing visit www.n-somerset.gov.uk/rapidtesting

Slots can be booked now at www.n-somerset.gov.uk/bookrapidtest

If you have symptoms you must continue to book at www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test

Information about financial and practical support available for anyone who needs to self-isolate is available at www.n-somerset.gov.uk/together

Mobile testing units – testing if you have Covid symptoms

For anyone who has symptoms of coronavirus, the mobile testing units (MTU) are operating at Locking Road car park, Weston-super-Mare, and Castlewood in Clevedon.

Both centres will be operating seven days a week until at least Monday 25 January.

The Department for Health and Social Care (government) decides where to have mobile testing units and when they will be open.

You can book a free test online at www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test or by calling 119.

North Somerset Together – helping you through lockdown and self-isolation

As well as providing practical support to our community through a network of local volunteers, North Somerset Together also includes an online portal which signposts to information and support available to anyone self-isolating or struggling with lockdown.

Alongside the forms to request help from volunteers with shopping and prescriptions if you are shielding, you will also find details of who is eligible and how to claim the £500 government grants for anyone who has to self-isolate.

There are links to local organisations that can help if you have financial challenges, as well as advice on mental and physical wellbeing.

To find out more visit www.n-somerset.gov.uk/together

Launch of Long Covid assessment centre

Long Covid is a condition that can affect people in many different ways and our understanding of how to manage it is still evolving. New research has shown one in five people with coronavirus develop longer term symptoms. These can include “brain fog”, anxiety, depression, breathlessness, fatigue and other debilitating symptoms.

Sirona care & health, our community healthcare provider, is now taking referrals from GPs for people whose Long Covid symptoms are significantly impacting how they are able to function in day-to-day life.

They are also working alongside other partners across North Somerset, Bristol, and South Gloucestershire to develop advice and support using digital resources and working closely with GPs.

Families urged to access free school meals during lockdown

Families across North Somerset are being encouraged to continue accessing free school meals during the latest lockdown restrictions following reports from other parts of the country that inadequate meals have been provided.

Our schools have been supporting families who receive free school meals but can't attend school since the beginning of the pandemic, often working with their local communities to harness the support of local voluntary groups and businesses alongside their usual meals provider.

Each school has their own arrangements in place to make sure no child goes without meals during term-time. These arrangements include contracts with a range of suppliers for their meals during term time, and they may also offer food packages, vouchers or a mix of both.

If other families are struggling and are unsure if they're entitled to support, they can apply for free school meals online.

During the recent Christmas holiday, and upcoming termly break the government has provided extra funds to councils to make sure children don’t go without meals. All schools have been asked to sign up to a nationally recognised voucher scheme which is secure, limited to food products and can be used at a wide range of stores and supermarkets. This has proved easy to use and popular with families and schools alike.

Is your business missing out?

We encourage businesses that have been negatively affected in any way by the Covid-19 pandemic to get in touch via our new dedicated phone line or email address so we can work with those businesses to identify which grants they can claim for and help them to apply.

So far, we have given out £46m of government grants to around 4,000 businesses across the area. However, we believe there are still many businesses in North Somerset who could be eligible for one or more of the various grants available but have not yet come forward.

Businesses should contact the council's business grants team on 01934 888 114 or email businessgrants@n-somerset.gov.uk.

Support includes:

  • One-off top up grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses worth up to £9,000 per property to help businesses through to the spring.
  • £594 million discretionary fund to support other impacted businesses.

In other news…


Photographer sought to capture Weston's heritage enhancements

North Somerset Council is seeking a photographer to capture future historic enhancements to Weston's town centre.

Major resurfacing scheme in Pill

A £190,000 scheme to improve the roads in Pill will start on Monday (18 January 2021).

Climate Emergency six-month progress report

At yesterday's meeting of Full Council, North Somerset Councillors considered a Climate Emergency six-month progress report.

Helping you get online

A free service aimed at increasing the level of basic digital skills and abilities in North Somerset residents is now available.

Facebook Live – 14 January 2021

In case you missed it, you can catch up with our latest Facebook Live on our YouTube channel, with automated subtitles.

Members of our Executive and our Director of Public Health answered questions on a range of topics including coronavirus, parking, garden waste, the local plan, recycling, free school meals and business support grants.