Coronavirus

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Jack Brooke-Battersby
By Jack Brooke-Battersby

Senior Staff Writer

24 March 2020

| | 4 min read

Council

Changes to services in fight against coronavirus

Newcastle City Council announced some service changes today in the fight against the spread of Coronavirus. 

Newcastle Civic Centre
Newcastle Civic Centre

Newcastle City Council announced some service changes today in the fight against the spread of Coronavirus. 

The measures were brought in following the Prime Minister’s address to the nation in which he announced tighter measures to restrict people’s freedom of movement for at least three weeks to try and slow the spread of the virus. 

People should only leave the house for four reasons: shopping for necessities as infrequently as possible; one form of exercise a day alone or with members of your household; for any medical need or to provide care or help for a vulnerable person and travel to and from work but only when it can’t be done from home. 

The city council requests that these rules are strictly adhered to. 

Council chief executive, Pat Ritchie, said: “My heart goes out to those who have lost their lives to this dreadful virus. Our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families at this very sad time. 

“The council continues to act on the latest advice from Government about limiting social contact so we can slow the transmission of the virus and help our colleagues in the NHS who are bravely fighting this invisible enemy. 

“As a consequence, more council staff who can work from home are doing so and we continue to support those who have to come into work. 

“In the face of adversity, we continue to provide key services such as refuse collections and social care and are training up more and more staff every day so they can step in to do alternative jobs as colleagues fall sick or have to self-isolate. But this is not easy and is placing a lot on our staff to whom I pay tribute. 

“We have also taken the decision to free up our entire estate of pay and display parking spaces for key workers but would emphasis these are for essential use only. 

I ask that residents bear with us and observe to the letter the new restrictions on freedom of movement announced by the Prime Minister. Its importance cannot be overestimated if our hospitals are to have a fighting chance over the coming weeks. 

Newcastle City Council chief executive Pat Ritchie gives update on council's position in fight against coronavirus

Changes to services

The impact of the restrictions on council services with immediate effect are as follows: 

 

Registration services 

  • There will be no birth registrations for the next three weeks at which time the situation will be reviewed. Registrations can be done later 
  • Death and stillbirth registrations by appointment will continue at the Civic Centre as normal 
  • Wedding ceremonies will be cancelled until further notice 

Bereavement services 

  • Attendance at funerals will be limited to immediate family only (spouse or partner, mother or father, children and partners, brothers and sisters and their partners – no more than 20 mourners) 

Access to the Civic Centre 

  • The Arches reception will operate on reduced hours, now from 8.30am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday. Please note that only those registering deaths and accessing emergency services should now visit the Civic Centre 

Social care 

  • Home visits continue following Public Health England guidelines 
  • All adult care centres are open and are following Public Health England guidelines. Some are closed to visitors 

Car parking 

  • All pay and display parking will be suspended for 21 days from tonight (Tues March 24) and parking will be free to support key workers in critical roles including council staff. 
  • 700 free car parking spaces have been made available to critical care staff at the Royal Victoria Infirmary and a further 87 spaces freed up for staff at the Freeman Hospital. Residents have also offered up their visitor passes and driveways to hospital staff 

Assistant Director of Operations and Parking Services, David Hall, said: “This is all about supporting key workers across the city - that is why we are freeing up our entire estate of on-street and off-street parking spaces.  

But I would urge people to park appropriately or face getting a ticket. Unless you are permitted to, do not park on double yellow lines, in disabled bays or near junctions which could cause an accident especially with so many emergency vehicles on our roads. 

“This arrangement will be in place for 21 days and then be reviewed.” 

Council Tax 

  • We will continue to collect council tax, but if you are struggling to pay then please get in touch using our online enquiry forms on this link or email us council.tax@newcastle.gov.uk 
  • If your income has changed due to Coronavirus you may be entitled to council tax reduction; more details can be found on this link 
  • Instalments can be paid over 12 months and we can amend instalment plans for people struggling to pay. 
  • If you are struggling to pay and your income has changed due to Coronavirus please contact us by using our online enquiry forms on this link or email us council.tax@newcastle.gov.uk 
  • For those who are self-isolating and cannot go to the Post Office or use an automated payment line we will accept payments over the phone01912787878 

Household Waste & Recycling Centres 

  • All Household Waste & Recycling Centres are now closed until further notice  
  • Please store your rubbish appropriately until the centres are reopened and it can be properly disposed of 
  • For information on reducing the amount of rubbish you create, visit our Food Waste page. 

Bin collections 

  • Bin collections continue, with green general waste, blue recycling and brown garden waste pick-ups scheduled to take place on their usual days. Please put your bins out as normal 
  • Families should clean regularly, and store used cloths and tissues separately for 72 hours prior to placing them in their general waste bins  
  • Find out more about what to do with your rubbish during the outbreak on our Waste Disposal Advice page 

Schools 

  • Approximately 1,100 children attended 83 schools across the city today. They are open to those deemed vulnerable or children of key workers who genuinely need a place 

Environmental services 

  • All grass cutting and shrub bed maintenance has ceased until further notice 

Parks and leisure 

  • Parks remain open for brief exercise, but all play areas are closed. 
  • Libraries and community hubs remain closed 

Grainger Market 

  • Fresh fruit and veg, fish, meat and pet store remain open on reduced hours (9am-4.30pm) but this is under review. Shoppers must maintain social distancing (2m apart) while in the market 
  • Council traffic enforcement officers are doing deliveries on behalf of the traders 

Highways 

  • Construction sites for Haddricks Mill and smaller roadworks schemes have been shutdown to allow staff to be reallocated to other essential services 

Housing Advice Centre 

Your homes Newcastle 

YHN housing and customer service staff are delivering services as usual. They can be contacted directly by phone or email. Only emergency repairs are being carried out. They can be reported by calling the enquiry centre or visiting the website www.yhn.org.uk