Updated - 22 May 2020 22:20
We understand this is a worrying time for many residents in our city and that you may have lots of questions on a variety of different topics. You'll find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.
On 10 May changes were made to the measures introduced to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Information will be updated as further changes are introduced.
What help and advice is available for businesses?
There is a range of advice and help available for businesses including grants, loans and business rate holidays. The support you are eligible for will depend on the size and type of your business. . You can find more details here.
What support is available for small businesses?
The government have introduced grants to help small businesses. You can find out if your business is eligible and apply for a grant here.
When will I get my business grant?
We’re supporting businesses through the coronavirus pandemic by helping all eligible businesses access funding. If you have completed a form, and are eligible, you can expect payment into your bank account within five to 10 working days
Is there a deadline for applying for a grant?
Current Government guidance makes no reference to a cut-off date for funding. We urge all eligible businesses to provide us with their details so we can make payment as soon as possible.
Will I be notified when I get the grant?
We will be in touch with all businesses who have received a grant, though it is likely payments will be in your account first.
Which sectors are currently receiving a business rates holiday?
Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses who pay business rates will benefit from a 12 month payment holiday this financial year. The process is done automatically and you don’t need to contact the council.
Where can I get my business rate account number and unique property reference number if I don’t have access to my bill or other correspondence?
Please email email@example.com and they will provide this as quickly as possible.
Do all businesses need to complete an application form or are some automatically assessed for grants?
If you have paid a business rates bill by Direct Debit within the last three months, we will already have your bank details and your payment will have already been made. Where this is not the case, you need to complete the online form to apply.
Can businesses who don’t pay rates apply for the grants?
Government guidance is clear that only businesses who are the liable for the business rate bill (even if there are no business rates to pay) will be eligible for grant funding. If you do not pay business rates, or you are not listed as the liable party for the business rates for your property, you will not be eligible for this grant. There may be other support available.
If the above businesses can’t apply for grants is there any other support available?
There may be additional financial support for businesses which cannot receive support through the Small Business and Retail Leisure and Hospitality Grants. This could include businesses in shared spaces. We are awaiting on further guidance on this from government. There is also a range of advice and help available for businesses. You can find more details here
What happens if I can’t afford to pay my staff because of coronavirus?
The government has introduced a temporary Job Retention Scheme to help businesses pay their employee’s salaries if their businesses are affected by coronavirus. You can find out more here.
Where can I find out more about support for businesses?
You can find out more information on the advice and support available for businesses, employers and self-employed people here.
Can I reopen my business now the lockdown measures have been relaxed?
Recent changes to the lockdown measures included some business being able to open if it is safe to do so while others must remain closed. You can find the latest information on which businesses and premises can open here.
What do I need to do before I reopen my business?
To help businesses, employers, employees and self-employed people understand how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic the government have published guidance to cover different types of workplaces such as factories, offices and construction sites. You can find more information here. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19
What is Citylife Line?
CityLife Line is a new service that will match the volunteers who want to help vulnerable people during the coronavirus outbreak with those who need help and support. You can find out more here.
How do I volunteer with Citylife Line?
You can find out more and register to be a Citylife Line volunteer here.
How do I get help from Citylife Line?
You can find out more about Citylife Line and request help or support here.
How do I request a food package?
If you have an urgent support need which requires a same day response, please contact our telephone helpline on 0191 277 8000 otherwise please complete the online form here Please be considerate to others when considering the urgency of your situation.
I’ve received a letter from NHS England saying I’m extremely vulnerable, how do I get help?
If you have received a letter from NHS England stating that you have a medical condition which means you are clinically extremely vulnerable to Coronavirus please register for the national support programme at here. You do not need to also request support from Citylife Line unless your situation needs an urgent response
Employment and benefits
I can’t go to work because of Coronavirus can I claim any benefits?
You can find information on the benefits that may be available here.
I have a Job Seekers Allowance interview. Do I still need to attend?
You can find the latest Government advice on whether to attend benefits related interviews and appointments here
Should I be going to work during the coronavirus pandemic?
Government guidance states that employees should work from home wherever possible but there are some jobs where this is not possible. You should speak to your employer to find out if you are required to continue to go to work or return to work following the changes.
Is there any help available for self-employed people?
You can find more information about the governments Self-employment Income Support Scheme here.
Can my employer force me to return to work?
Government guidance says that you should work from home unless it is impossible for you to do so. If it is not possible to do your job from home, for example if you operate machinery or work in the construction industry, you should return to work if it is safe to do so unless you work in one of the industries that must remain closed.
The government have set out five steps to working safely that all employers must take before asking employees to return to work. This includes completing risk assessments. They have also published sector specific guidance for some industries including construction and manufacturing.
You should not return to work if you or anyone in your household has symptoms of coronavirus, is self-isolating or in the shielding category.
What can I do if I don’t think my workplace is safe?
If you are concerned that your employer is not taking all practical steps to promote social distancing or make your workplace safe then you can report this to your local authority or the Health and Safety Executive who can take a range of action, including where appropriate requiring your employer to take additional steps. You can find more information here.
Libraries, parks and leisure
Are libraries staying open?
Due to government measures libraries are now closed.
Will I be charged if my library books are late?
No one will be charged for library books that are overdue because of coronavirus. If you want to you can renew them online.
Can I go to the park?
There are a limited number of things you can do that you couldn’t do before. This includes spending time outdoors for exercise, fresh air, sunbathing, picnicking and going to the park. You must adhere to social distancing guidelines when you are outside you home. You can find more guidance on staying safe outside your home here.
Why is the playground closed?
Government measures require some businesses, venues and facilities to remain closed to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus. This includes communal spaces in parks such as playgrounds and outdoor gyms. You can find out more about disruption to council services here.
Can I use the tennis and basketball courts in Leazes Park?
Some outdoor sports courts including tennis and basketball courts like those in Leazes Park can reopen. If you use a sports court you must adhere to social distancing including staying two metres apart and only play with members of your household or one person from another household. You can find more information on staying safe outside your home here.
Are car parks open and are opening times changing?
We have not made any changes to our car park opening times, but this is being kept under review. You can find the most up to date information on our car parks here.
Will the council waive parking charges for key workers during the pandemic?
To support key workers in the city we provided free parking in all our pay and display spaces for seven weeks from March 24 until Monday 18 May when charging resumed for most motorists.
Healthcare workers can still park free of charge in pay and display bays. If you think this applies to you please email firstname.lastname@example.org from your Hospital Trust email address. Please use the subject line "NHS Parking" and include details of your vehicle in the email before using these bays.
Are there any car parks that NHS staff can park in free of charge?
The council is providing free parking in three car parks for critical care workers at the Royal Victoria Infirmary until at least June 23. These car parking spaces are at Claremont Road (183 spaces), Morden Street (84 spaces) and Leazes Park Road (50 spaces) and will be available on a first come, first served basis. You can find more information here.
Registration and Bereavement Services
How do I register a death?
From Monday 30 March 2020 all deaths and still births will need to be registered by telephone. To make an appointment to register a death or still birth please call 0191 2787878 and ask for the Registration Services. We will explain the process when you call to make the appointment.
Are there any changes to funerals?
Only immediate family will be able to attend a funeral and with no more than 20 mourners allowed.
How do I register the birth of my baby?
From Tuesday 24 March 2020 we are not registering births until further notice. Births can be registered at a later date. Parents can make a claim Child Benefit or Universal Credit before the registering the birth if this has been delayed as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. If you have any questions about registering a birth please email email@example.com.
If a wedding or civil partnership is already booked will it go ahead?
Due to Government measures we are not currently carrying out any weddings or civil partnerships until further notice.
Will all wedding and civil partnership fees including statutory fees be refunded?
You will receive a full refund for any ceremonies that are booked. If you have a question about your own wedding or civil partnership that has been cancelled as a result of Coronavirus, including queries about statutory fees, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Can a marriage or civil partnership licence be transferred to a later date?
If you have a question about your own wedding or civil partnership that has been cancelled as a result of Coronavirus, including queries about licences please email email@example.com
Will my citizenship ceremony go ahead?
Due to Government measures we are not currently carrying out citizenship ceremonies. Due to the current pandemic the period for booking a citizenship ceremony after receiving your invitation from the Home Office has been increased from three months to six months.
Can I get documents verified for my EU Settlement Scheme application?
The EU Settlement Scheme ID Verification Service has been suspended until further notice.
Are the cemeteries still open?
All cemeteries in the city remain open subject to visitors following strict government guidance on social distancing.
Rent and Council Tax
Is there any help to pay my rent if I lose my job as a result of coronavirus?
The government has introduced legislation to suspend evictions from social or private rented accommodation. If you are struggling to pay your rent because your financial circumstances have changed due to coronavirus you should speak to your landlord about your situation or contact the Private Rented Service for advice.
What if I can’t afford the rent on my council home due to coronavirus?
Your Homes Newcastle (YHN) and the council understand that this is a difficult time and that some tenants may be suffering financially. We are following Government guidance on what actions need to be taken around coronavirus and the potential financial impact that the outbreak may have on our customers. You can find out more here.
Can council tax payments be moved from April to January to June to March to make the first two months free instead of the last two?
We can spread instalments over 12 months or amend instalment plans for people struggling to pay. If your income has changed due to Coronavirus please contact us using our online enquiry form or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Will the council cancel or suspend council tax payments to help hard up families who need to self-isolate?
It’s important to remember that council tax pays for essential services that are delivered to all residents in the city. If your circumstance have not changed due to the impact of coronavirus it is especially important that you continue to pay your council tax.
We understand that this is a difficult time and some of our residents many be struggling financially. If you’re finding difficult to pay your Council Tax because of coronavirus you can find out about the support available here.
Retail, leisure and hospitality industry
Is the Grainger Market going to close?
There are no current plans to close the Grainger Market but this could change if Government advice changes. Any changes to opening times will be posted on the Grainger Market Facebook page. The Grainger Market is now providing deliveries of fresh food. For more information visit www.graingerdelivery.com
Will the Grainger Market deliver to Gateshead or just Newcastle?
You can find information on all the postcode areas that the Grainger Market will deliver to at www.graingerdelivery.com
How will you stop food shops increasing prices because of coronavirus?
Our trading standards team will look into any reports of food premises who have increased their prices during the pandemic. We will report any issues to the Competitions and Marketing Authority who have set up a coronavirus taskforce to crack down on companies cashing in during the outbreak by bumping up prices or exploiting people’s fears with misleading claims about products. We urge all retailers to behave responsibly in these exceptional times.
Are Ice Cream vans allowed to operate?
Making a visit to an ice cream is a not an essential visit and may cause people to congregate breaking social distancing requirements and put public health at risk. Technically an ice cream van is the same as a takeaway and the vendor will need to take steps to control queues and proactively manage social distancing.
What should I do if a business is open when it shouldn’t be?
If you see or know of a businesses or premises that is open that you believe shouldn’t be please report this in confidence be emailing email@example.com.
Why has the council started grass cutting again?
The council is carrying our grass cutting work that is essential to maintain Newcastle’s open spaces, ensuring safety and public wellbeing. This includes keeping sight lines clear around roads, paths and junctions and areas that people are using for their daily exercise to allow as much space as possible. Staff will adhere to social distancing guidelines.
Are the Welford Day Centre and Resource Centres open or closed?
Welford Day Centre is still open as normal (Mon - Friday 9am till 4pm). All of the Resource Centres (Connie Lewcock, Byker Lodge, Scrogg Road and Castledene) are open. There is no respite care available at Castledene. All Resource Centres are closed to visitors.
What provisions are being made for homeless people in the city during the pandemic?
You can find information on the support we are offering to homeless people during the pandemic here.
Where can I get help for someone who is sleeping rough?
If you know someone who is sleeping rough in Newcastle you can find out what support we are offering here
When will my child have to go back to school?
The government has announced a possible phased return for some primary school pupils from June and we are working with schools to look at the government guidance on this. Schools will notify parents and carers of any updates regarding a possible return. You can find more information here.
Will I be fined if I don’t send my child back to school on 1 June?
The government have confirmed that parents who don’t send their children to school during the pandemic will not currently be fined.
Can I meet friends and family from outside my household?
You can meet one person from outside your household if you are outdoors. You can only do this on a one to one basis. Public gatherings of more than 2 people from different households are prohibited in law. You can find more information on staying safe outside your home here.
What should I do if someone breaks social distancing rules?
If you believe someone is breaking social distancing rules you can report this to the police using their online form.
Do I still have to stay at home?
Government guidance says you should stay at home as much as possible but that you can leave home for the following limited reasons:
- To go to work if it is not possible for you to work from home
- To go to shops that are allowed to open to get things like food and medicine
- To exercise or spend time outdoors
- For any medical need, including to donate blood, avoid injury or illness, escape risk of harm, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
Even when doing these activities you should minimise the time you spend away from home and make sure you maintain social distancing. You can find more information here.
Can I visit family members at their home?
To reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus you should not visit other people’s homes. You can meet one person from another household outside but you must maintain social distancing. You can find more information on here.
Do I need to wear a face mask if I leave my house?
Face coverings are not compulsory but the government are advising people to wear face coverings in enclosed public spaces where social distancing is not possible or where you are more likely to come into contact with people you do not normally meet, for example, on public transport or in some shops.
A face covering is not the same as surgical masks used by healthcare and other workers. These need to be reserved for those who need them to protect against risks in their workplace such as health and care workers.
Can I move home?
The government has amended the coronavirus (COVID-19) regulations to make clear that people who wish to move home can do so but you must stick to social distancing rules. You can find more information here.
What is the council’s social distancing policy for bin collections?
We are minimising contact between refuse collection staff and full social distancing measures are in place in the depots. Staff wear gloves at all times when carrying out their duties. Residents are asked to ensure they follow government advice on disposing of their waste and on social distancing which includes not approaching our refuse collection staff. You can find more advice on cleaning and waste disposal here.
Are the recycling centres open?
Our 'tips' reopened on Monday May 11, with strict social distancing measures in place. Please remember that most visits to a HWRC are not considered essential travel under the Government's lockdown guidance. Until it can be disposed of correctly please continue to store your rubbish appropriately. You can find more information here.
Are bin collections being stopped?
There are no plans to stop bin collections. Priority is being given to General Waste Collection. Recycling and Garden Waste is planned as normal and any service disruption will be minimised as far as possible.
Will bin collection days be changing?
There are no plans to change bin collections as a result of coronavirus. You can find more information on bin collection days here.
You can find out more about disruption to council services here.