The 2.2 million people on the clinically vulnerable shielding list in England are to be given specific advice based on the alert level they fall into under the new tier restrictions system.
The shielding group – which is defined by medics as those who are clinically extremely vulnerable, based on age, ethnicity, gender, and individual clinical needs are to be told they no longer need to stay in their homes to keep safe.
This is predicted to range from “meet others outside where possible” for Tier 1 areas, to “ask people in your household, support bubble or volunteers to collect food and medicines” for those whose homes are in Tier 3.
This advice was announced this afternoon by Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Jenny Harries.
However, it is believed that officials are making plans for even tighter shielding restrictions within the Tier 3 areas which have the most worrying levels of coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission, and there are warnings that vulnerable residents in those potential future “prescribed areas” may in fact told to shield by staying indoors as they did during the national lockdown.
Dr Jenny Harries stressed the letters being sent out would contain guidance and not compulsory instructions.
The new advice – which is said to be based on mitigating factors including the ‘rule of six’ and mask-wearing – encourages people to continue to work and take outdoor exercise, and the letters will provide what is being described as “soft” advice in addition to the national restrictions.
For clinically vulnerable residents under Tier 1 restrictions, the advice includes: “Strictly observe social distancing, meet others outside where possible, limit unnecessary journeys on public transport and work from home where possible, but you can still go to work and children should still attend school.
“This is on top of restrictions for everyone to only meet in groups of up to six people.”
For Tier 2 areas – which includes Greater Manchester and widespread areas of the North West – which are under the ‘high’ alert level, the advice states: “Reduce the number of different people met outside, avoid travel except for essential journeys, work from home where possible and reduce the number of shopping trips made or go at quieter times of the day.
“You can still go to work if you cannot work from home because all workplaces should be COVID secure, and children should still attend school.”
When it comes to residents under Tier 3, which is at present solely the Liverpool City Region, the advice will be: “Work from home, in general stay at home as much as possible, and avoid all but essential travel. You should also significantly reduce shopping trips, and if possible use online delivery or ask people in your household, support bubble or volunteers to collect food and medicines.
“People in these areas are encouraged to still go outside for exercise, and can still go to school and to work if they cannot work from home.”
Dr Jenny Harries said: “The new system will provide clarity on how best those in this group can keep themselves as safe as possible depending on the rates of transmission in their local area.
“We will continue to monitor the evidence closely,
“[And] fine tune this approach to make sure everyone in this group is clear about the safest way to go about their daily lives, particularly over the coming winter months,”
You can find more information about who was previously classed as clinically vulnerable here.
For the latest information, guidance and support during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the UK, please do refer to official sources at gov.uk/coronavirus.
Police arrest four men and shut down ‘incredibly dangerous’ cannabis farm in Salford
Police have shut down a suspected cannabis farm in Salford today, arresting four men.
Officers swooped on the property on Arthur Street in Swinton after finding evidence that the house was being used to grow cannabis plants.
The farm has been described as ‘incredibly dangerous’ to other occupants in the area.
Three rooms in the house were full of plants growing, with a huge amount of wiring surrounding them that posed a fire hazard.
The four men detained by Greater Manchester Police (GMP) Salford Neighbourhood Team were subsequently arrested on suspicion of involvement in the production and supply of cannabis and remain in police custody for questioning.
Sergeant Peter MacFarlane said: “Locating a cannabis farm is a great result for the team who are gathering intelligence and working hard to crackdown on drug-related crime across Salford.
“Farms of this nature are also incredibly dangerous to other occupants in the area. The building itself is still being made safe due to the amount of wiring around the plants. Criminals running these types of enterprises have no regard for public safety and in these conditions, an electrical fault from bad wiring could easily start a fire and endanger lives.
“The arrests and seizures then go someway towards disrupting the supply of illegal drugs and the criminality that comes with it, and will also make our communities safer.
“This operation was intelligence led and a huge part of our intelligence comes from members of the public sharing information with us. If you have suspicions about a crime taking place please report it so we can take positive action and bring those responsible to justice.”
You can make a report by calling 101 or 999 in an emergency. You can also report via the LiveChat function on GMP’s website: www.gmp.police.uk
Alternatively you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Featured image: GMP
‘Groundbreaking’ new app to help get homeless people into work launches in Manchester
Homeless families across Manchester are set to benefit from a “groundbreaking” new service that gives them access to employment support.
With the ultimate aim of helping homeless people move out of temporary accommodation and into their own homes, Manchester City Council has announced a new pilot partnership with Beam – a social enterprise that fundraises on behalf of homeless people and connects them with a supportive online community.
Through Beam’s “innovative” app-based platform, homeless people can raise money for items that often end up being financial obstacles to them moving into a permanent home, whether than be funding equipment or training to help them secure stable and financially-viable employment, or towards a rental deposit, moving van, or other homeware essentials, and everything in between.
Donations come from people in the local community, and are shared out equally between participants, so that everyone reaches their fundraising target within an average of 17 days.
Having helped more than 1,300 homeless people “achieve their goals” since being founded in 2017, Beam isn’t just about funding, as it also has a team of caseworkers who provide one-to-one help with employment to those in need.
The caseworkers also lend a hand with searching for properties online, communicating with landlords, and booking house viewings, while Beam also works with a network of vetted landlords to help people find a home
The initiative also provides further support for at least six months after moving.
Over the next year, Manchester City Council says its pilot partnership with Beam will initially support 25 families who are living in temporary accommodation in the region, and move them into their own private rental homes.
Residents can be referred to the scheme by the Council’s housing teams, as well as other local services, and each person is assigned a caseworker from Beam, who then supports them on their journey into stable housing.
“No one chooses homelessness voluntarily,” admitted Councillor Joanna Midgley, Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council.
“And when it happens, it can be devastating, which is why we are looking at a range of solutions to help people secure affordable and decent homes in Manchester.
“Our new partnership with Beam is an innovative approach to improve people’s life chances, supporting them, where possible, into sustainable jobs allowing them to move out of temporary accommodation and into their own homes.