Coming out of Lockdown

Updated: 17/12/2020

(COVID-19) Community testing: explainer (England)

1. Introduction

Community asymptomatic testing is a major new tool to help identify and isolate individuals who have COVID-19 but do not have symptoms and may inadvertently be spreading the virus. Alongside the deployment of tests to NHS front-line staff, social care and other critical settings, testing of asymptomatic individuals within the community can help suppress COVID-19 and offer communities a direct route out of the toughest restrictions.

This builds on the pilots of community testing which are taking place in Liverpool and Merthyr Tydfil. Since the Liverpool pilot began, over 200,000 people have been tested, and this testing has formed an important part of the strategy that has helped to significantly reduce prevalence there.

The government will support local authorities to deliver rapid community testing in whatever way best meets the needs of their citizens. The Community Testing programme will offer local authorities in Tier 3 (with the highest level of restrictions) and those in Tier 2 who are at significant risk of entering Tier 3, the opportunity to apply to trial a sustained testing regime (for an initial period of 6 weeks). Local Authority Directors of Public Health will be able to develop approaches that will work for their community, with national support and funding.

The opportunity to participate in the community testing programme is open to all local authorities in England in Tier 3 and those in Tier 2 who are at significant risk of entering Tier 3, but capacity constraints mean we will only be able to work with some in the first round. If successful, the programme can be expanded in 2021.

2. Asymptomatic testing

Before the roll-out of a vaccine, and beyond NPIs, the only way to stop the spread of COVID-19 is to identify people who have it and help them, and their contacts, to isolate so that they do not infect others.

Community testing using rapid lateral flow tests can help significantly increase the number of infectious people who know they are infected and can then isolate. These tests have been demonstrated to be able to detect viral antigen rapidly with high specificity, a sufficient degree of sensitivity, and a low kit failure rate.

With 1 in 3 individuals with COVID-19 not showing symptoms, it can help identify those people who are infected and potentially infectious, but asymptomatic and unaware that they might be spreading the disease, so that they can isolate and protect others.

The more people in an area who participate in community testing, the greater the impact on the virus – so there is a strong incentive for communities to pull together and get tested.

3. Working with local authorities

The community testing programme will seek to establish close working relationships with participating local authorities through locally based teams who will be there to support local authorities in their initial setup phase.

These teams will work through established regional structures which provide a link back into the DHSC and support coordination between areas and with government agencies.

Participating local authorities will be able to access:

  • the appropriate supply of lateral flow tests
  • help with planning logistics and set up
  • funding support and communications support

In deciding which local authorities to work with, the government will consider a number of factors including:

  • the state of the pandemic in each area
  • the presence of a robust plan showing how the local authority could make use of community testing resources
  • the capabilities that each local authority can bring to maximise the effectiveness of the scheme
  • the strength of partnerships between health authorities, NHS Test and Trace and local NHS trusts
  • logistical factors such as the availability of suitable locations to set up test sites
  • commercial considerations to ensure that community testing delivers the best possible value for money

4. Encouraging and enabling people to get a test

To get the most out of community testing, levels of both turnout and compliance with self-isolation need to be as high as possible. The more people test and the more positive cases isolate, the greater the reduction in prevalence, which may help an area move out of Tier 3 restrictions, and reduce the risk of a Tier 2 area entering Tier 3.

Community testing will be locally delivered. It is for local authorities to determine the best way to focus testing, maximise the reduction in prevalence and enable benefits for their communities. The government will equip local authorities to encourage people to engage with community testing by:

  • supporting self-isolation
  • creating safe new opportunities for those who test negative
  • removing barriers to testing
  • raising the profile of the testing programme
Community Testing – full prospectus

Updated: 07/12/2020

Travel Corridor updates for St Ives and VAT on admission charges to attractions.

VAT on admission charges to attractions
Travel Corridor updates for St Ives

Updated: 03/12/2020

Well here we are Tier 1 thanks to all your efforts in keeping us & our town safe so a huge well done it has been a very difficult year so it’s even more of an achievement!

That and being voted the happiest place to live in the UK, quite a week!

So we are all preparing to reopen next week, the town is looking great some nice weather will be great and of course late night shopping next Thursday to look forward to so that we can all shop local for Christmas.

Also, keep an eye on St Ives in December’s Facebook page for all that’s going on during the festive season.

Today I have plenty of attachments as follows

  • The latest update for pubs, restaurants & takeaways re working safely
  • A copy of the Covid 19 Winter Plan
  • Actions for taxis & PSV drivers to protect against Covid
  • Test to release for International Travel details
  • Finally a copy of the Government watchlist area by area.

After reading that you will need a weekend off!

Applying for coronavirus Business interruption loans
Test & Trace guidance for the workplace
Working safely in Heritage locations
Managing playgrounds & outdoor gyms
St Ives Winter Covid Leaflet

Well here we are Tier 1 thanks to all your efforts in keeping us & our town safe so a huge well done it has been a very difficult year so it’s even more of an achievement!

That and being voted the happiest place to live in the UK, quite a week!

So we are all preparing to reopen next week, the town is looking great some nice weather will be great and of course late night shopping next Thursday to look forward to so that we can all shop local for Christmas.

Also, keep an eye on St Ives in December’s Facebook page for all that’s going on during the festive season.

Today I have plenty of attachments as follows

  • The latest update for pubs, restaurants & takeaways re working safely
  • A copy of the Covid 19 Winter Plan
  • Actions for taxis & PSV drivers to protect against Covid
  • Test to release for International Travel details
  • Finally a copy of the Government watchlist area by area.

After reading that you will need a weekend off!

COVID19 Winter Plan
Guidance for PSV & Taxi Drivers
Government Watchlist
Guidance for Hospitality
International Travel Guidence

(COVID-19) Guidance for the Christmas Period (England)

Meeting friends and family

There are different rules on meeting friends and family, depending on when you meet them.

From 2 December to 23 December

From 2 December to 23 December, you must follow the guidance for the tier in your area.

From 23 December to 27 December

From 23 December to 27 December, you may choose to form a Christmas bubble.

A Christmas bubble will be able to spend time together in private homes, to attend places of worship, or meet in a public outdoor place.

In all other settings, people should follow local restrictions in the tier in which they are staying.

If you do not form a Christmas bubble, you should continue to follow the guidance for the tier in your area. You may still meet with your support bubble or childcare bubble.

From 28 December

From 28 December, you must follow the guidance for the tier in your area. Christmas bubbles will no longer apply.

Visiting bars, pubs and restaurants

From 2 December, the rules on who you can meet with in bars, pubs and restaurants will depend on your tier. The rules might be different for indoor and outdoor hospitality settings. Check the rules for your tier.

Between 23 and 27 December, the rules on who you can meet in bars, pubs and restaurants will not change.


Visiting churches and other places of worship

From 2 December, you can attend places of worship in all tiers. The rules on who you can meet with whilst at places of worship will depend on your tier. Check the rules for your tier.

Between 23 and 27 December, you may also attend a place of worship with members of your Christmas bubble. This applies in all tiers.

There is further information in the guidance for the safe use of places of worship during the pandemic.


Visiting shops and Christmas markets

From 2 December, the rules on who you can meet with in shops will depend on your tier. The rules might be different for indoor shops and open air shops, such as Christmas markets or Christmas tree markets. Check the rules for your tier.

Santa’s grottos are able to open in all tiers where they are located in venues otherwise permitted to open. Venues should put in place appropriate covid-secure measures, including social distancing.

Between 23 and 27 December, the rules on who you can meet in shops will not change. This includes Boxing Day sales.

There is further information in the guidance for people who work in or run shops, branches, stores or similar environments.

Attending events, including performances and Christmas lighting ceremonies

From 2 December, the rules on attending events, including performances and Christmas lighting ceremonies will depend on your tier. The rules might be different for indoor and outdoor events. Check the rules for your tier.

Between 23 and 27 December, the rules on indoor events will not change. You can attend outdoor events with your Christmas bubble.

There is further information in the guidance for people who work in performing arts, including arts organisations, venue operators and participants.


Celebrating New Year’s Eve

You must follow the rules on where you can go and who you can meet, including on New Year’s Eve. Your Christmas bubble will no longer apply. Check the rules for your tier.

Carol singing

COVID-19 spreads from person to person through small droplets, aerosols, and through direct contact. Singing, shouting and physical activity increases the risk of transmission through small droplets and aerosols. If singing does take place, steps should be taken to reduce the risk of transmission, including limiting the number of people participating as far as possible. The cumulative effect of aerosol transmission means the more people involved, the higher the risk of transmission.

Carol singing or carol services can take place if all attendees follow the advice in the suggested principles of safer singing and guidance for the Performing Arts developed by an expert group coordinated by Public Health England. This applies to both professional and amateur choirs.

Those performing or rehearsing:

  • In a professional capacity; or
  • As part of a supervised activity for under 18s

are not limited in number and do not have to adhere to gathering limits but should still follow the performing arts guidance.

For adult amateur performances and rehearsals, you should consider the case for proceeding (or not), given the wider health context in your area and the context of your participants, particularly if vulnerable individuals are involved.

If you do proceed, you should follow performing arts guidance and will be subject to local gathering limits. This means that if more than one group of six (in tier 1) or household (in tier 2 or 3) is performing or rehearsing indoors, they must not interact, ‘mingle’, or otherwise socialise together. You should maintain social distancing between groups or households at all times, including when entering or leaving the building or in any breaks. Direction can continue to take place during the activity i.e. between a conductor and a group, but other physical and social interaction is prohibited.


Indoor performances

Professional and amateur choirs may perform in any indoor venue permitted to open, as per the restrictions in each tier and should follow the rules outlined above.

Based on public health advice for indoor performances, the audience or congregation should not participate in any activity that can create aerosols, including singing, shouting and chanting. The maximum number of people present should take into account the area of the space and the requirement to maintain 2m social distancing at all times. This follows the advice generally for the Performing Arts. Particular attention should be paid to how participants can arrive and leave the site safely while maintaining social distancing.

Attendees should walk or cycle to the event and avoid public transport or sharing a car with anyone outside their household in line with safer travel advice.

Outdoor performances

Professional and amateur choirs may perform outdoors in any venue permitted to open, as per the restrictions in each tier and should follow the rules outlined above.

Where a performance is held outdoors, an audience or congregation may join in with singing and should follow performing arts guidance. This means that audience or congregation members should follow social distancing of 2m and event organisers should ensure this is maintained. Attendees should remain seated where possible. The maximum number of people present should take into account the area of the outdoor space and the requirement to maintain 2m social distancing at all times. Particular attention should be paid to how participants can arrive and leave the site safely while maintaining social distancing.

Door-to-door carol singing can take place in a group(s) of no more than six participants. If there are more than six people in total, each ‘group’ must not interact, ‘mingle’ or otherwise socialise. Participants should adhere to public health advice, including to ensure that you maintain at least 2m distance from anyone you do not live with and the threshold of any dwellings.

Attendees should walk or cycle to the event and avoid public transport or sharing a car with anyone outside their household in line with safer travel advice.

For further information, please refer to the Performing Arts guidance and guidance for the safe use of places of worship during the pandemic.

Going to work

If you are working during this period, you should continue to do so from home where you can effectively do so.

Going to school, college and university

You should continue to attend your school or college until the last day of normal term time. Schools and colleges should not change their Christmas holidays or close early this term. Parents should continue to send their children to school during term time and students should continue to attend college right up until the end of term – our senior clinicians continue to advise that the best place for children and young people is in education. The time-limited change to social restrictions over Christmas does not require any children to be taken out of school prematurely.

Returning home from university

If you are a university student living at university away from home, you will be able to return back during the student travel window, from 3 – 9 December. You should travel home when your face-to-face teaching has finished. You should take any test offered to you by your university, whether or not you have symptoms. This will reduce the risk to your friends and family. All Universities have been asked to move all teaching online by the 9 December. There are some exemptions for certain courses.

Students that have been living away from home should read the guidance on student movement and plans for the end of term.

Attending events organised by schools and other education settings, including nativity plays

Performances by pupils, such as nativity plays and other seasonal events, should take place within existing school bubbles and avoid mixing across groups.

Whether audience members, including parents, are permitted to attend festive performances will depend on the tier in their area.

In tiers 1 and 2, audiences are permitted to attend, subject to the appropriate safeguards being in place.

In tier 3, audiences are not permitted. In these areas, schools can use alternative methods such as live-streaming and recording performance.

Schools planning a performance should consult the guidance on music, dance and drama and the performing arts guidance.

Supervised activity for children is exempt from limits on gatherings in every tier. This means children’s choirs and other out-of-school settings can continue. Providers who run community and other out-of-school activities for children should follow the protective measures guidance for holiday or after-school clubs and other out-of-school settings.

Childcare

Over the Christmas period, local restrictions and exemptions remain in place. Therefore, registered childcare, other supervised activities for children, and childcare bubbles are permitted. However, as Christmas bubbles can be formed (between 23 and 27 December) we advise against the use of normal childcare bubbles during this period, except where absolutely necessary. This reduces the risk of spreading coronavirus between Christmas bubbles.

Visiting relatives in care homes

You will be able to continue visiting relatives in care homes in all tiers. Visits should be held with social distance and PPE in place, outside or in other Covid-secure visiting areas.

Where testing is available, residents will be able to have visits from up to two visitors each week in all tiers by Christmas. If a visitor has a negative test, is wearing appropriate PPE, and following other infection control measures, then it may be possible for visitors to have physical contact with their loved one, such as providing personal care and holding hands. Detailed guidance will be published in the coming days.

Travel within the UK

From 2 December to 27 December the advice on travelling outside of your tier, including for overnight stays, will depend on your tier. Check the rules for your tier.

Between 23 and 27 December, you may travel between tiers and other nations of the UK if necessary to meet with other households in your Christmas bubble or return home. Once at your destination, you should follow the rules in that tier.

You should not travel to see your bubble before 23 December, or travel back after the 27 December except in exceptional circumstances (for example, if a member of your Christmas bubble develops symptoms of COVID-19 and you are required to self-isolate). Anyone travelling to or from Northern Ireland may travel on the 22 and 28 December.

Transport routes may be busier than normal. You should:

  • plan ahead, check for disruption before you leave, and avoid the busiest routes, as well as busy times
  • avoid making unnecessary stops during your journey
  • avoid sharing a car with people not in your household or Christmas bubble
  • keep your distance from other people when you travel, where possible
  • wash or sanitise your hands regularly
  • wear a face covering on public transport in England unless you’re exempt

If you plan to travel to Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, you should read guidance from WalesScotland, or Northern Ireland before you travel.

You can stay in a hotel, including in tier 3, during the Christmas period as long as you’re staying by yourself or with other members of your household.

You can stay in private rented accommodation with members of your household, or your Christmas bubble.

If you need to travel with your Christmas bubble, wherever you are, you should follow Safer Travel guidance.

Travel abroad

From 2 December you may travel abroad, including to visit friends and family, subject to any restrictions in place at your destination. However, those in Tier 3 should avoid leaving their tier, including for international travel, other than for work, education or caring responsibilities. Before travelling you should check relevant travel advice.

Travel to the UK from abroad will continue to be governed by the travel corridor approach. Individuals will need to self-isolate for 14 days if arriving from or have travelled through a non-travel corridor country or territory. From 15 December 2020, passengers arriving into England from countries not featured on the government’s travel corridor list will have the option to take a test after 5 days of self-isolation, with a negative result releasing them from the need to isolate. You must not form a Christmas bubble if you have coronavirus symptoms or are self-isolating.

Between 23 and 27 December, the rules on international travel will not change.

Volunteering

Volunteers play a crucial role in supporting people over the Christmas period and you can continue to do so in all tiers.

Where possible, you should volunteer from home. If you cannot do so, you can volunteer outside your home.You should also follow advice on how to help safely. If you are volunteering, you must follow social distancing guidance. If you do not follow this advice, you could put yourself at risk of infection, or risk spreading it to others.

Find out more about ways to volunteer.

Weddings, civil partnerships and funerals

From 2 December, the rules on weddings, civil partnerships and funerals will depend on your tier. Check the rules for your tier.

Between 23 and 27 December, the rules on weddings, civil partnerships, and funerals will not change.