Good afternoon and welcome to the 18th issue of this regular Sunday email.
Two or three weeks ago the message from the Prime Minister was that, hopefully, we would be back to near-normality by Christmas. The direction of travel was one of lockdown easing, with pubs and restaurants reopening, as well as a feeling that we seemed to be getting through it. Now, there’s a real sense of the brakes beginning to go on. We saw it with the quick quarantine measures imposed on people returning from Spain… and now travellers returning from Luxembourg face restrictions too. Then we saw the reintroduction of certain restrictions across a wide swathe of northern England as Covid cases crept up again.
The number of confirmed infections is on the rise with the Office for National Statistics (which is regularly testing households in England) estimating that there are now around 4,200 new infections a day, compared with 2,800 a week ago. This is not a return to the height of the epidemic in March, when there was an estimated 100,000 infections every day, but it is telling. The government is clearly concerned that there’s a real danger of a big spike – or second wave – of the disease and there is significant apprehension that what is happening in other parts of Europe may happen here if we are not careful. To some extent, that has been the story of coronavirus: we have tended to follow what has emerged in mainland Europe. Let’s hope the government’s action is sufficient to curtail the virus…and also let’s hope that people living in these northern areas abide by the new rules…for all our sakes!
As usual, get in touch with me if you have any news or information that you think village residents might like to hear about.
Just as they said it was safe to come out of the water!
We all know what happened to Leicester when there was a local spike in Covid-19 cases: they were thrown back into total lockdown. That city is just beginning to emerge from its enforced restrictions as new cases are not arising so fast. But now millions of people in parts of northern England are facing new lockdown restrictions, which ban separate households from meeting each other at home after a spike in Covid-19 cases. The rules impact people in Greater Manchester, east Lancashire and parts of West Yorkshire (that’s getting a bit close for comfort). The health secretary, Matt Hancock, told the BBC the increase in transmission was due to people visiting friends and relatives. He said: “The government has had to take "targeted" action based on information gathered from contact tracing, which showed that "most of the transmission is happening between households visiting each other, and people visiting relatives and friends".
Interestingly, earlier in the week Thirsk & Malton MP, Kevin Hollinrake, circulated the attached map on Facebook which suggested Hambleton, Ryedale and Richmondshire had some of the lowest infection rates in the country. He said: “No reason for complacency, but this is really good news.”
Latest government advice
As of yesterday, 1 August:
• Employers have more discretion, in consultation with their employees, on how to ensure people can work safely in their workplace or continue working from home.
• The clinically extremely vulnerable no longer need to follow advice on shielding, though should still take particular care to follow the social distancing guidelines when meeting people.
BUT, some measures to ease restrictions, which were supposed to come into force on 1 August, have now been put back until 15 August at the earliest:
• Bowling alleys, skating rinks, casinos and all close contact services, such as beauticians offering facial treatments and make-up applications.
• Live indoor theatre and concerts, which were due to resume with socially distanced audiences, will not take place.
• Pilot sporting events allowing limited numbers of spectators at Goodwood, the Crucible and The Oval, will not go ahead.
• Wedding receptions of up to 30 guests were to be allowed but they are not now permitted, though ceremonies with that number attending may still go ahead. Physical distancing rules must be followed. Receptions or parties after weddings should not take place, but small celebrations – with groups of up to two households indoors, or up to six people from different households outdoors – are allowed.
From October, the government still intends to allow audiences to return to stadiums, but of course this is subject to how the virus is being contained and how people are handling the restrictions on social distancing etc.
Virus isolation period extended from seven to 10 days
Last Thursday the government announced that people who test positive for Coronavirus or show symptoms in the UK must now self-isolate for at least 10 days. The change was made as ministers try to avoid a resurgence of the virus. Until now, those showing key symptoms – a new continuous cough, a temperature or loss of taste or smell – have had to self-isolate for at least a week. The new advice is in line with World Health Organisation guidance. The chief medical officer said the change is "particularly important to protect those who have been shielding and in advance of the autumn and winter when we may see increased community transmission".
A reminder about test and trace
I have included details of the government’s test and trace arrangements in earlier emails but it’s worth repeating the basics at this time as all around us the dangers of a fresh wave of the disease are apparent. This information is taken from North Yorkshire County Council’s website – https://www.northyorks.gov.uk/coronavirus-covid-19-testing – and in my opinion is well presented and easy to understand.
There are two parts to the NHS test and trace service.
Part 1: for someone with symptoms of coronavirus
- isolate: as soon as you experience coronavirus symptoms you must self-isolate for at least 10 days. Anyone else in your household must self-isolate for 14 days from when you started having symptoms.
- test: order a test immediately.
- results: if your test is positive, you must complete the remainder of your 10-day self-isolation. Anyone in your household must also complete self-isolation for 14 days from when you started having symptoms. If your test is negative, you and other household members no longer need to self-isolate.
- share contacts: if you test positive the NHS test and trace service will send you a text, email or call you with instructions on how to share details of people with whom you have had close, recent contact and places you have visited. It is important that you respond as soon as possible. You will be told to do this online via a secure website or you will be called by a contact tracer.
Part 2: if you are contacted by the NHS test and trace service because you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus
- alert: you will be alerted by the NHS test and trace service if you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus. The alert will usually come by text, email or phone call. You should then log on to the NHS test and trace website, which is normally the easiest way for you and the service to communicate with each other – but, if not, a trained call handler will talk you through what you must do. Under-18s will get a phone call and a parent or guardian will be asked to give permission for the call to continue
- isolate: you will be told to begin self-isolation for 14 days from your last contact with the person who has tested positive. It’s really important to do this even if you don’t feel unwell because, if you have been infected, you could become infectious to others at any point up to 14 days. Your household doesn’t need to self-isolate with you, if you do not have symptoms, but they must take extra care to follow the guidance on social distancing and handwashing and avoid contact with you at home
- test if needed: if you develop symptoms of coronavirus, other members of your household must self-isolate immediately at home for 14 days and you must book a test. If your test is positive, you must continue to complete the remainder of your isolation and you will be asked about your contacts since they must also self-isolate. If your test is negative, you must still complete your 14-day self-isolation period because the virus may not be detectable yet – this is crucial to avoid unknowingly spreading the virus.
Book a Coronavirus test
Key workers and anyone who has Covid-19 symptoms can have a test. As part of the national testing programme for coronavirus (Covid-19), drive-through Mobile Testing Units, run by the Department for Health and Social Care, will be operating in the following locations over the coming days:
- Monday 3 August – Northallerton – Allertonshire School, Brompton Road, Northallerton, DL6 1ED
- Tuesday 4 August – Thornton Le Dale – National Trust Car Park, No.5. Chestnut Avenue, Pickering, YO18 7RR
- Wednesday 5 August – Scarborough – Scarborough Park & Ride, Seamer Road, Scarborough YO12 4LW
- Thursday 6 August – Whitby – Whitby Park and Ride, Whitby, YO21 1TL
- Thursday 6 August – Richmond – Round Howe Car Park, Reeth Road, Richmond, DL10 4T
Before you attend you must book a test. There are two ways to do this depending on which testing group you are part of. Tests can be booked from 8pm the night before. To book a test visit: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
In certain cases, home test kits can be delivered to someone’s door so they can test themselves and their family without leaving the house. Home test kit availability will be initially limited, but more will become available.
There’s a link on the North Yorkshire County Council website to request a home test.
Local mask retailer
Further to the information about face coverings in last week’s email, I’ve been told that the City Tailor in Finkle Street, Thirsk, is making a pleated style in a variety of fabrics and sizes, washable and very reasonably priced. There are some on display but you can also choose your own fabric to be made up. Colours include purple, dark navy, blue, bright red, wine red, apple green, turquoise, peach, red polka dot, hot pink, green, lilac, brown, dark brown and khaki. Sizes available: adults extra-large, £5 each or 4 masks for £15; adults large £5 each or 4 masks for £15; adults medium (ladies or skinny men) £5 each or 4 masks for £15; teenage between 13 and 18 years of age £2.50 each and kids between 4 and 12 years of age £2.50 each. Orders can be made on line or via the shop. Check out City Tailors on Facebook or ring 01845 525636
Better Health Campaign
A new national campaign is under way to encourage millions of adults to lose weight, improve their health and reduce their risk of serious illness, including Covid-19. Public Health England is hoping for a national rethink about personal health as nearly two thirds (63%) of adults in the UK are overweight or living with obesity. The campaign literature states: “Gaining weight is often a gradual process that takes place over a number of years and modern life doesn’t always make it easy. But this extra weight causes pressure to build up around vital organs, making it harder for the body to fight against diseases like cancer, heart disease and now Covid-19. By reducing your weight within a healthy range, you can cut your risk of being critically ill with the virus. To improve health and wellbeing, individuals should aim to have a BMI below 25 and above 18.52 .
To support people to live healthier lives, Public Health England’s Better Health campaign will provide a variety of tools and apps to help individuals make healthier food choices, become more active and prevent future weight gain. One of these tools is a Weight Loss Plan app, which provides 12 weeks’ worth of content that can be personalised and tailored to the goals and needs of the individual. Physical activity can support weight loss which can help reduce risks. More information: https://www.nhs.uk/better-health/
The silent pandemic: How lockdown is affecting future health
And as if to back up the need for a national health campaign, the latest research from the Covid Symptom Study app (which has been downloaded by 3.5 million people in the UK), shows that almost a third (29%) of those surveyed have gained weight since March 2020. This data suggests an average increase in body weight across the country being 0.78 kg (1.6 lbs), and up to 3 kg (6.5 lbs) in those who reported increased snacking have gained weight. The factors that may have contributed to weight gain during lockdown include increased snacking (35%), decreased levels of physical activity (34%), increased alcohol consumption (27%) and a less healthy diet (19%).
Last week’s email contained details of the governments ‘shock’ announcement about holidaymakers returning from Spain having to go into 14 days of isolation. The last minute announcement not surprisingly caught out thousands of holidaymakers already in Spain and threw many more holiday plans in to disarray. The exclusion of Spain (including the Canaries and the Balearics) from the ‘holiday corridors’ scheme followed a surge in Covid-19 cases in many parts of the country. This week another country – Luxembourg – has been identified as a virus hotspot and anyone returning from there must isolate. Unfortunately there’s a growing number of European countries which might be next on our government’s quarantine hit list.
The good news is that ministers are also looking for a way to reduce the current 14-day quarantine period for arrivals to the UK, meaning that quarantine and self-isolation time periods could be standardised at 10 days.
Once we experienced the world of phone and video consultations with our doctors it was perhaps inevitable that the idea of continuing them after the pandemic would be put forward. Well, Health Secretary Matt Hancock last week said that there had been a "hugely positive" response to virtual appointments during the coronavirus pandemic and unless there is a clinical reason not to, they should continue. He said: “They worked particularly well in rural areas.” He told a meeting at the Royal College of Physicians: "From now on, all consultations should be tele-consultations unless there’s a compelling clinical reason not to. Of course if there is an emergency, the NHS will be waiting and ready to see you in person, just as it always has been. But if they are able to, patients should get in contact first via the web or by calling in advance. That way, care is easier to manage and the NHS can deliver a much better service. Not only will it make life quicker and easier for patients but free up clinicians to concentrate on what really matters." It will be interesting to see how this idea develops.
Eat Out to Help Out
Starting tomorrow diners will be able to get money off their bill on certain days in August to encourage a return to cafes, pubs and restaurants. It’s hoped the scheme will provide a boost to the struggling hospitality industry, now that the national lockdown is easing. The promotion gives people a discount of up to 50% when eating or drinking soft drinks in a participating restaurant or other food establishment. It is valid all day Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 3 to 31 August, in all parts of the UK that are not in a local lockdown. The maximum discount available is £10 per person when you eat or drink in. It is not available on take-away food. You can check out which venues have joined the scheme in our area by following this link: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/get-a-discount-with-the-eat-out-to-help-out-scheme
The Angel at Topcliffe
Greg Tassel, the General Manager at The Angel, has been in touch as he wants to inform villagers that The Angel is definitely taking part in the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme. Booking a table in the restaurant is highly recommended any day of the week as it has been very busy, especially at weekends. The garden is still operating on first come first basis for food and drinks. To book email email@example.com or call 01845 578000.
Jobs on offer
Greg also wanted to let locals know that The Angel is currently looking to recruit a kitchen porter to work mainly Mondays and Tuesdays (lunch & dinner) as well as some weekends. They’re also looking for a night porter to work two nights a week – Tuesdays and Wednesdays. If interested contact Greg on 01845 578000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Swan says thanks to all its customers
In the month since The Swan reopened after lockdown, business has been extremely good says landlord George Lambert. “Our customers have been fantastic! They’ve been extremely supportive and understanding of the strict social distancing rules that we have had to introduce. Whether coming in for a drink, visiting our restaurant or just calling to collect a takeaway meal, everyone has been wonderful and it has been a pleasure to welcome back old customers and a few new ones too.” The Swan serves food at socially distanced tables and reservations are necessary. Takeaway meals to order. Times are: 5 to 8:30pm Monday to Saturday and 12 noon to 4pm on Sunday. Telephone 01845 595185.
Gas works cause road closure
The first section of the road from Asenby to Rainton (Asenby Forge to Park Road) will be closed for five days from Monday, 10 August to Friday, 14 August for gas main works.
There is to be a meeting in St. Columba’s Church at 7pm on 17 August for the election of Churchwardens. This meeting may be attended by those whose names are on St. Columba’s Church electoral roll and all persons resident in the parish whose names are entered on a register of local government electors by reason of such residence. This meeting will be followed by the Annual Parochial Church Meeting and the first meeting of the Parochial Church Council.
St Columbas remains closed for services for the time being. Discussions are taking place to see how and when the church can reopen safely and an announcement will be made in due course.
Neighbourhood Watch – ‘Safety in Neighbours’ burglary campaign
Now that we’re all starting to ease out of lockdown, we need to make sure that as well as keeping ourselves safe, we’re keeping our homes and neighbourhoods safe. More people out and about means burglary is expected to rise, which is why the Neighbourhood Watch has launched a new social media campaign, in partnership with the Home Office, to warn everyone to be on their guard and provide practical tools to prevent burglary. Those of you who make use of social media will see the eye-catching campaign and have the chance to watch a range of videos showing how neighbours can help keep others safe. The campaign hashtag is #SafetyInNeighbours
The ‘WIDE’ combination of security measures reduces your risk of burglary nearly 50 times more than an alarm? Find out how to get your home WIDE safe at https://www.ourwatch.org.uk/crime-prevention/crime-prevention-toolkits/burglaries
The Lifestyle Challenge
North Yorkshire Police’s popular Lifestyle Challenge competition is back and better than ever for 2020! The challenge is open to all 8 – 18 year olds who are resident in York or North Yorkshire. It’s more difficult this year because of Covid-19, but the basic idea is for up to six friends to join together – either virtually or in person (adhering to social distancing guidance) – to think up a project and then do it! The project could benefit a specific road or street, your village community or your environment. It’s entirely up to you. It just needs to make a difference in your community.
The project needs to be based on one of the five following categories:
• Volunteer Hero – Choose a charity that means something to you and support them. This can be through fundraising or volunteering in the work they do. The organisers would particular like to see you support charities who have helped our communities get through the Covid-19 pandemic.
• Community Challenge – You could identify some vulnerable or isolated people within your community and help them. Perhaps you could raise awareness and understanding of mental health in the community, or do something that creates a feel good factor in your community and reduces anti-social behaviour.
• Crime Buster Challenge – Design and deliver a project which prevents or reduces crime in your community. Maybe you could create a video which raises awareness of fraud and cybercrime or online exploitation. Perhaps there are certain groups in your community who are susceptible to certain crime types and you could help to protect them against being targeted?
• Care & Respect Challenge – You could design and deliver a project which educates people about bullying or the harm and damage hate crime can cause?
• Educating Others Challenge – Your project could help educate and prevent children and adults getting involved in drug and alcohol abuse, county lines, or how to stay safe online, how to care for their mental health or the issues around missing young people and exploitation.
To find out more go to: https://northyorkshire.police.uk/what-we-do/public-campaigns/lifestyle/
Bags 2 School – reminder about next recycling event
The next ‘Bags 2 School’ recycling event will be on Monday 21 September. So please start cleaning out your wardrobes and drawers. As last time, the event will be held at Topcliffe & Asenby Village Hall and the proceeds will be shared between the Village Hall and Topcliffe Scout groups. As a reminder, we would welcome any of the following items: – Men’s, Ladies’ and Children’s clothing – paired shoes (tied together or elastic band around) – handbags – hats – bags – scarves and ties – jewellery – lingerie – socks – belts – soft toys – household linen – household curtains – household towels – household bedding (bed sheets, pillow cases and duvet covers). Please note that we are unable to accept duvets and blankets, pillows and cushions, carpets, rugs and mats (including bath, shower and toilet mats), soiled, painted, ripped or wet clothing, school uniforms with and without logo, corporate clothing and workwear or textile off cuts, yarns or threaded material.
• Refuse –Mondays 3, 17 and 31 August.
• Recycling and green bins – Thursdays 13 and 27 August
• Recycling – Mondays 3 August, 17 and 31 August.
• Refuse – Mondays 10 and 24 August.
• Garden waste – Thursdays 13 and 27 August.
MESSAGES & INFORMATION FROM EARLIER EMAILS, BUT WORTH MAINTAINING FOR REFERENCE
• Local Facebook sites: ‘Top Residents’, ‘Topcliffe & Asenby Village Hall’ and ‘Asenby Institute Community Space’.
• Asenby Bus Shelter Library – a ‘community hub’ with library exchange.
• Asenby Playing Field – The playing field continues to be open for exercise purposes, but the Parish Council is keeping the playground section (swings, slide, roundabouts etc.) closed until further notice.
That’s all until next Sunday. Stay alert, keep safe and keep well.