We are doing everything we can to support Plymouth through the COVID-19 pandemic and respond to the rapidly changing national effort to prevent it spreading.
Our priorities include preserving life and limiting harm to the people of Plymouth, keep all key services running as long as possible whilst minimising risk to staff and residents and supporting the local economy .
We are using our established plans for managing a major incident and our pandemic plan to co-ordinate our response, working closely with partner agencies in the city, as well as regionally and nationally.
City Council employees are working hard to manage the impact on COVID-19, maintaining key local services where possible, protecting the elderly and vulnerable, while implementing the fast-changing directives from Government.
We have had to suspend some services in line with government guidance and to support the social distancing and ‘stay at home’ measures.
All employees who are able to work from home are now doing so and 82 per cent are currently working from home.
Some employees are continuing to deliver key services that cannot be delivered from home. For example, our social care staff are supporting children and adults while our refuse crews continue to empty bins across the city.
Our cleansing teams are working hard to keep Plymouth safe and clean and our highways maintenance crews are carrying out essential inspections and repairs to keep roads and footways safe, so that key workers and vital supplies can keep moving during the coronavirus outbreak. We ask that people do not abuse them while they go about their work.
All employees are being reminded to follow safe distancing and hygiene measures at all times. PPE is being provided where necessary in line with the latest national guidance, though finding sufficient supplies of the right PPE has been very challenging.
CARING FOR THE VULNERABLE IN PLYMOUTH
Caring for Plymouth
We are helping implement one of the largest humanitarian efforts in peacetime Plymouth, coordinating support for those residents who have been identified as being the most medically vulnerable.
We are ensuring they can receive food, medicines and emotional support through Caring for Plymouth, an alliance between the Council, Livewell Southwest and a large number of voluntary and community sector organisations.
All the staff providing the service have had background checks and are specially trained. The service is provided by a range of agencies.
Plymouth Good Neighbours Scheme
We have launched the Plymouth Good Neighbours Scheme to recruit and coordinate volunteers who can support those who need help during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We are working closely with community groups to help those who are not able to leave their homes, ensuring they have food and medication and any other support they need. Volunteers are being matched with different charities and groups when particular experience and skills are needed.
This scheme can be accessed on the Council’s website and at a later stage will use the ‘Our Plymouth’ online platform which will aim to become the primary volunteer-matching channel for Plymouth, working with all groups and charities across the city.
The Good Neighbours Scheme has already signed up more than 500 volunteers, and had offers from organisations to use premises for storage, and courier companies offering delivery drivers. Anyone wanting to sign up should visit the Plymouth Good Neighbours Scheme web page.
Homeless people and rough-sleepers
We have offered accommodation to all 39 of the people currently identified as rough sleepers. If you receive any reports of people who may be homeless or sleeping rough, please contact the Council on 01752 668000 or see our online advice.
Children’s services teams are continuing to support vulnerable children and young people in need of protection. Families can be under immense pressure at this time and we are acutely aware of the need to focus on any potential rise in domestic abuse. We would ask you to direct people to the Plymouth 24 hour phone line 0800 458 2558 and online advice.
Many businesses are being hit hard by the impact of COVID-19. In an effort to ease the burden on businesses, we have deferred payments of business rates for two months so that businesses can pay their normal bills over 10 months rather than 12.
Our teams have been working hard to implement the financial support packages for businesses, and we have been actively lobbying government using all channels to escalate the serious issues that some of our businesses are facing.
We have already paid grants to more than 2,000 businesses, totalling more than £25m.
Any businesses seeking advice and guidance should visit our Invest in Plymouth website.
INFORMATION ON SERVICES AND SUPPORT AVAILABLE
Bins and street cleansing
We are continuing with the city’s bin collections, though garden waste collections have been suspended and the two household recycling centres closed.
We are asking residents to help us by:
- Holding on to any DIY waste until restrictions have been lifted. If you can’t store the waste on your property please postpone these projects. Don’t put it in your normal bins or back lanes.
- Not putting garden waste in bins. We recommend home composting if you can or storing waste on your property until restrictions have been lifted.
- Not fly tipping or dumping rubbish in back lanes. As well as blocking access for refuse or emergency vehicles and spoiling your neighbourhood, you could be prosecuted.
- Placing any bags that contain used tissues in a second bag, tying them securely and keeping them separate from other waste for at least 72 hours before adding them to your brown bins.
- Cleaning bin handles and washing your hands after putting out your bins and bringing them back in.
Education and schools
Most schools have been opening to take vulnerable children and children with special needs, as well as the children of key workers where no alternative provision is available. We have been supporting schools in implementing these arrangements.
We are ensuring that children who are eligible for free school meals continue to receive support and we have provided between 3,400 and 5,700 meals each week across the 67 schools covered by CATERed.
We are also working to ensure that families do not lose out on using the national supermarket voucher scheme.
Adult social care
Our social care teams are supporting Derriford Hospital in ensuring people can leave hospital by securing beds and bed spaces in the community.
Births, deaths and marriages
The Register Office is closed and birth registrations, notices of marriage, civil partnerships and all ceremonies have been suspended until further notice.
We are now only conducting death registrations over the phone until further notice. Please do not call us – we will be provided with next of kin details as well as the medical certificate of cause of death by the doctor/hospital involved and will then contact you.
Funeral and cremation services continue to run at Weston Mill Cemetery and Crematorium but the office is now closed for general public enquiries and access to the Book of Remembrance Room is limited to one person at a time.
We have sadly had to limit the number of mourners allowed to attend funeral and cremation services to a maximum of 10 people.
Priority family members should be:
- Children (and partners)
We are now offering webcasting at a reduced cost of £30 and will continue to record every funeral service which can be emailed to families.
If you have an enquiry about a burial or cremation please email email@example.com or call 01752 306104 or 01752 304837.
We have made all Council car parks free for emergency services, the NHS, care workers and key workers.
The focus is on making sure those providing essential services are safe, which is why we continue to enforce yellow lines, footway parking, disabled parking bays, business bays and doctors/emergency bays.
Residential permit restrictions will remain as they were set up, to help local people park near their homes, particularly in areas close to the city centre and to large employers.
We are asking that people continue to observe restrictions to help keep entrances and roads clear for emergency services and carers who need to visit the vulnerable.
Our free car parks at Jennycliff, Mount Batten and Devil’s Point are closed until further notice.
These are all popular visitor sites and in line with government guidance we are asking you not to travel by car unless it is essential, even to go for a walk – please stay home and save lives.
As these car parks are predominantly used for leisure purposes, the closures will not impact on key workers.
Council Tax payments – support
Our finance teams are supporting households who are worried about their ability to pay their Council Tax if their income has been impacted by COVID-19.
We are offering revised Council Tax payment options and implementing Council Tax discounts for those who receive Council Tax Support
If you are of working age and on Council Tax Support you will automatically get a £150 discount off your Council Tax bill for 2020/21.
New Council Tax Support customers will also get the discount, while funds are still available.
Self-employed people are being offered the chance to defer payments for a few months if they find themselves in difficulties as a result of their income drying up. Find out more and register online here.
Concessionary bus passes
We have lifted the restrictions on times for the use of concessionary bus passes to help people to take advantage of the dedicated shopping hours at supermarkets.
All libraries are closed but the library service is providing free online resources including eBooks, magazines and audiobooks.
We are also continuing to offer some activities such as Rhyme Time online.
Parks and green spaces
All our play areas, tennis courts, ball courts and skate parks are closed.
Our parks remain open for exercise but please don't gather in groups. When exercising please stay at least two metres away from people you don't live with.
You can walk your dog while taking your daily exercise, but please keep it on a lead to help maintain social distancing.
Help us to keep our parks and green spaces clean by clearing up after your dog, using bins where provided or taking any rubbish home with you.
Tamar Bridge and Torpoint Ferry
The bridge is open and the ferry is operating. The tolls on both have been temporarily waived, as well as Tamar Tag account fees.
Our team is warning people about a spate of COVID-19 related scams.
Our youth services team is available to young people through Facebook.
COVID-19 testing station
We have helped the NHS open a drive-through covid-19 testing centre for health and care staff at Plymouth Medical and Technology Park.
The aim is to enable key personnel back to get back work as soon as possible, to ease pressure on their colleagues.
The South West is behind London and other parts of the country in the rising number of Covid cases. The centre will help us take maximum advantage of that breathing space, to get staffing levels back up in our hospitals and community teams.
The NHS say they are hugely grateful to the Council for providing the site and mobilising to get it ready in such a short time and that our level of support has been ‘exemplary’.
The steps the government is taking to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic will save lives. However, sadly, people will lose loved ones as a result of this disease.
Like all local authorities up and down the country we are making preparations for an increase in the number of deaths as a result of COVID-19.
We are making preparations in our cemeteries and our crematoria but are taking the precaution of setting up a temporary mortuary facility to cope with additional pressure on the system.
This facility will be at Agaton Fort in Ernesettle which we have acquired on a temporary basis. The temporary facility will be built at this site so that the deceased can be carefully stored with dignity in a robust and secure location should the need arise.
Keeping residents and businesses informed
We are also providing updates through regular email bulletins. You can sign up here: https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/UKPCC/subscriber/new
We have a wide range of information about support for businesses at our www.visitplymouth/invest.co.uk