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FAQs: Walsall local COVID alert level – High

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General information - High Alert level

What level of alert is Walsall currently in?

Walsall is currently in the ‘HIGH’ level of restrictions, Tier 2 on the new national COVID-19 Alert Level system. The government has released detailed guidance about the restrictions in place in areas where the local COVID alert level is high:

Click here to read the UK Government guidance: Local COVID alert level high

What does a 'HIGH’ level alert mean?

This means new restrictions are now in place to try and ensure we slow the spread of the virus as much as possible locally:

  • You must not socialise with anybody who you do not live with or have formed a support bubble with, in any indoor setting, whether at home or in a public place, including hospitality venues.
  • You must not socialise in a group of more than six outside, including in a garden or other space, such as beaches or parks (other than where specific exemptions apply in law).
  • Businesses and venues can continue to operate, in a COVID-secure manner, other than those that remain closed in law.
  • Certain businesses are required to ensure customers only consume food and drink while seated, and must close between 10pm and 5am.
  • Businesses and venues selling food for consumption off the premises can continue to do so after 10pm as long as this is through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-through.
  • Schools, universities and places of worship remain open, but you must not mingle with anyone outside of your household or support bubble.
  • Weddings, civil partnerships, receptions and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of attendees.
  • Exercise classes and organised sport can continue to take place outdoors. These will only be permitted indoors if it is possible for people to avoid mixing with people they do not live with or share a support bubble with, or for youth or disability sport.
  • You can continue to travel to venues or amenities that are open, for work or to access education, but should look to reduce the number of journeys you make where possible.
  • You must also continue to follow social distancing guidelines, wear face coverings where required, wash your hands frequently and work from home if you can.

Why has Walsall been placed in the HIGH category?

Walsall has been placed in the alert level HIGH as our infection rates are above 100 per 100,000 people. Central government do not believe the measures previously in place were doing enough to contain the virus. This decision has been informed by the number of new cases and the predicted impact on health, care and wellbeing services in the area.


How long will Walsall be in the HIGH alert category?

We currently have no information from government about how we move out of HIGH. However, we would expect any easing of restrictions to come as a result of a significant reduction in the number of new cases.


Are we going to move up into the VERY HIGH alert level?

At present, there is no clear criteria in place for VERY HIGH, but it is likely to be a combination of a number of new cases occurring, the impact cases are having on health, care and wellbeing services and an assessment of how effective the current restrictions are. Alternatively, central government may impose this change.

 

I am unsure if I live in Walsall as I don’t have a WS postcode, does this mean I am affected by the new restrictions?

If you pay your council tax to Walsall Council, you are classed as a Walsall resident and must follow the new restrictions. If you are unsure you can use the government’s postcode checker and enter the postcode of the place you want to find information about. For example where you live, work, or visit. You will then be able to find out what you can and can’t do.

If you live outside of Walsall, you should not be entering households within Walsall.  Given that COVID-19 doesn’t respect city or town boundaries, or postcodes, we strongly advise you to follow the measures. If you live in a neighbouring Local Authority area please continue to check their websites for up to date information.

 

What happens if I do not follow the new restrictions?

As the new restrictions come into place, residents can expect to see greater enforcement of the rules from organisations with enforcement powers, such as Walsall Council and West Midlands Police.

 

What do I do if I start experiencing coronavirus symptoms?

If you start to experience coronavirus symptoms, it is important that you get a test. Visit www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or call 119 to book a test.

 

Schools

Are schools still open?

Yes, schools remain open.

 

Protecting the vulnerable & support bubbles

What is a support bubble?

A support bubble is a close support network between a household with only one adult in the home (known as a single-adult household) and one other household of any size.
You should not change who is in your bubble. For more information on click here for support bubbles.

 

Can I still visit a care home?

You should not visit a care home except in exceptional circumstances, for example to visit an individual who is at the end of their life.

 

What is the guidance on shielding and protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable?

New guidance has been released by the government for those classed as vulnerable

If you are classed as clinically vulnerable you could be at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19:

  • You can go outside as much as you like but you should still try to keep your overall social interactions low 
  • You can visit businesses, such as supermarkets, pubs and shops, whilst keeping 2 metres away from others wherever possible 
  • You should continue to wash your hands carefully and more frequently than usual and maintain thorough cleaning of frequently touched areas in your home and/or workspace 

Clinically vulnerable people are classed as follows or have the following conditions: 

  • aged 70 or older (regardless of medical conditions) 
  • under 70 with an underlying health condition listed below (that is, anyone instructed to get a flu jab each year on medical grounds):  
  • chronic (long-term) mild to moderate respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis 
  • chronic heart disease, such as heart failure 
  • chronic kidney disease 
  • chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis 
  • chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), or cerebral palsy 
  • diabetes 
  • a weakened immune system as the result of certain conditions or medicines they are taking (such as steroid tablets) 
  • being seriously overweight (a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above) 
  • pregnant women.

There is a further group of people who are defined, also on medical grounds, as clinically extremely vulnerable to Coronavirus – that is, people with specific serious health conditions. At each local COVID alert level, there is additional advice that clinically extremely vulnerable people must follow.  At local COVID level alert: high:

  • You must not meet with people indoors in any setting unless they are part of your household or support bubble. This includes private homes, and indoors in hospitality venues, such as pubs and restaurants. 
  • You may continue to see friends and family you do not live with outside, including in a garden or other outdoor space. If you do so, you must not meet in a group of more than 6. In England, this limit of 6 includes children of any age. 
  • At this alert level, our additional advice for clinically extremely vulnerable people is that you keep the number of different people you meet with low. The fewer people you meet, the less likely you are to catch COVID-19. 
  • You are encouraged to continue to go outside with your household and/or support bubble because of the benefits of exercise. If you do choose to meet other households outside of your support bubble, this must be outside, must be in groups of less than 6 people and we advise you to keep the numbers low. 
  • You do not need to maintain social distancing within your household. 

 

Daily life, travel & socialising

Are shops still open and can I go shopping?

Yes, shops remain open in Walsall. You must continue to wear a face covering inside any shop and continue to follow the Government’s Hands, Face, Space advice:

  • Hands: Wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds.
  • Face: Wear a face covering in indoor settings where social distancing may be difficult or where you encounter people you do not normally meet.
  • Space: Stay 2m apart from people you do not live with, or 1m-plus with extra precautions in place if 2m is not possible.

Are local pubs and restaurants still open?

Yes, hospitality businesses such as pubs and restaurants remain open with a 10pm curfew in place.

 

Can I go and meet my friends or family in a pub or restaurant?

No. You cannot meet friends or family who you do not live with or are in a support bubble with in any indoor premises, including pubs or restaurants.

 

Are active living centres and gyms open?

Yes, these remain open but please ensure you adhere to strict social distancing measures.   

 

Can I go to meet a friend or relative in their home in an area not subject to these restrictions?

No – and they cannot come to your home either. Separate households cannot mix either at home, or in other indoor settings.  


Can I still go on holiday?

You can still go on holiday with members of your household or support bubble, provided you are not travelling into or through a VERY HIGH alert level area.

 

What about funerals/weddings/civil partnerships? 

  • The new guidance includes an exception for funerals – up to a maximum of 30 people. Wakes and other commemorative events are permitted with up to 15 people present (not to take place in private dwellings). For gatherings after a funerals, for example at a pub, the general rules for pubs apply and must follow COVID-19 mitigation guidance: You must not meet socially with friends and family indoors in any setting unless you live with them or have formed a support bubble with them. This includes private homes, and any other indoor venues such as pubs and restaurants. 
  • Wedding and civil partnership ceremonies and receptions must only take place in COVID-secure venues or in public outdoor spaces unless in exceptional circumstances. Weddings, civil partnership ceremonies and wedding receptions are restricted to 15 people. Receptions should be sit-down meals to ensure people can keep their distance from each other, and mustn’t take place in private dwellings. 

Can people still do work in my house?

It is recognised that for providers of in-home services, it is often not possible to work from home. There are exceptions where people from different households can gather beyond the new limits. These exceptions include work, volunteering to provide voluntary or charitable service. For more information see guidance on working safely in other people’s homes, which applies to those working in, visiting or delivering to home environments. These include, but are not limited to, in home workers – such as repair services, fitters, meter readers, plumbers, cleaners, cooks, visiting childcare providers, and surveyors (this is not an exhaustive list) to home services – such as delivery drivers momentarily at the door. 

 

Can I move home?

Yes, you can still move home if you’re in a high alert level area. Estate and letting agents and removals firms can continue to work and people looking to move home can continue to undertake viewings. 

 

Can I travel to University?

Yes, students living at their university term-time address in a high alert level area should follow the same guidance on meeting other people and travel as others in that area. 

Commuter students (those who live at a family home and travel to/from university each day) should be able to continue to travel to/from their university for education purposes. 

 

Can I visit my work office outside of Walsall? 

Yes, if working from home is not possible.  

 

Can you travel through Walsall to get to other areas?

Yes, but you cannot go into someone’s house in Walsall if you do not live with them, or they are not part of your household bubble.  

 

I do a job that involves me working in other people's homes (e.g. mobile hairdresser or a handyman) can I still do my job?

People can go into others’ homes or gardens for specific purposes set out in law. Please see the guidance for further details.  

 

Can I still attend routine health appointments such as dentists?

Yes, the guidance states that routine appointments are available. Changes have been made to keep individuals and the team safe during treatment. Residents are encouraged to contact their health service directly via email or telephone to discuss COVID-secure appointments and should not attend in person unless told to do so.

 

Retail & hospitality businesses

How many family members are allowed inside an indoor venue like a pub, café or restaurant? 

We advise Walsall business to carefully use their judgement on whether groups seem credible when booking for or entering your premises. Keep a log to record where you have had or believe that you have had problems.   

At present, different households / support bubbles are not permitted to gather or socialise inside including homes and indoor venues like pubs, cafés and restaurants with other households / support bubbles.  If separate households / support bubbles do want to meet up at your venue then it must be outside in a garden or other outdoor space: Only 6 persons from different households are allowed to gather, this limit of 6 includes children of any age. It is important that social distancing control measures are in place between members of different households/support bubbles.   

If 12 single unrelated people who do not live together came into a pub, café or restaurant would they have to sit according to the current social distancing rules? If so this would mean our seating/table capacity is full, what would we do then?  

Yes they would have to sit separately and not mix unless they were from a shared household or single support bubble.  This may well mean that if every person was from a separate household/support bubble they would each have to sit at a separate table and depending on your capacity this may mean that you are full.  The capacity of your premises will depend on the findings of your COVID-19 risk assessment and how many people you can safely accommodate at this time. 

 

If people come to the pub or restaurant and say they are from the same bubble do I need to ask for proof of this? Can I ask for proof legally? Can you clarify what my duties are and how I can carry this out? 

Reasonable attempts should be made to ensure that persons are gathering from one household/support bubble when they are sitting inside. Reasonable checks must be also be made for those sitting outside that persons will not be gathering in larger groups than 6 persons from more than one household/support bubble (This can be larger, if they are part of one household/support bubble).   

National guidance on working safely for restaurants offering takeaway or delivery.

  • Check with customers on arrival or when booking who they are with and how many people will be attending.  
  • Put up signs to remind customers to only interact with their group/household/support bubble (depending upon whether they are inside/outside).   
  • Check the government coronavirus website regularly for updates .   
  • Review also your violence and aggression risk assessment.   
  • If persons are aggressive towards you and your staff, call the police as you would normally, however depending upon resources of the police at the time and the issue, would depend upon whether they would be able to attend.   

Can people still play darts and pool as long as we still sanitise the areas and equipment after each use? 

  • Inside : For more than one person to be playing i.e. against another person they must all be from the same household/support bubble, they must also be wearing a mask, and be able to maintain 2 metres (1 metre plus) from other persons that are sitting at their tables within the rest of the pub.   
  • Outside: Up to 6 persons from different households can play together as long as people from different households/support bubbles socially distance from each other.  (Equipment must be cleaned once that individual has finished with it).  Where possible they should bring their own equipment to minimise risk of transmission 
  • The equipment should be cleaned between each households/support bubbles use.  
  • Carry out a risk assessment as to what cleaning is required.    

Can we still have entertainment in our venue? 

At present  

Can we stay open for longer if we serve food?  

No.  Serving food makes no difference to the rules on operating hours. Public houses and restaurants are not permitted to be open between the hours of 10:00pm and 5:00am.  Last orders must be called to give sufficient time to enable closure by 10:00pm.   

Past 10pm takeaway establishments are strictly only permitted to offer a delivery service. 

 

We serve food does this mean the social distancing rules relaxed? 

No.  Serving food makes no difference to the rules on social distancing. You must stay at least 2 metres apart or 1 metre with a face covering or other precautions from anyone who is not in your household / support bubble.