We held our latest media briefing this afternoon, and, as ever, I would like to share with you my opening remarks to ensure you are up-to-date on our response to the pandemic. I am also sharing Cllr Hawken’s statement from the same session:
Cornwall Council is continuing to work hard on behalf of our residents during these extraordinary times, putting your interests first and using our resources wisely. Our covid-19 email address is firstname.lastname@example.org, and telephone line on 0300 1231 118 remain open and available for residents to use for any covid19-related queries. In addition, we have a telephone line dedicated to those deemed clinically vulnerable to get in touch for support and advice. That number is 0300 1234 334.
I’d like to begin by talking about our business grant schemes, and how Cornwall Council is working to support our business community through what will inevitably be a difficult winter for us all. We have been accepting applications for our Local Restrictions Support Grants or LRSGs since last Friday and have already seen a positive response from businesses all over Cornwall.As of this moment we’ve received 3,500 grant applications, and I’m pleased to say that the first payments will be sent out today. They should appear in bank accounts from Friday.
This Friday we will launch another grant scheme, the Additional Restrictions Grant, or ARG for short. Cornwall has been allocated £11.4m by the government for this, with up to £3,000 available to each business in most circumstances. It’s important to distinguish between this new grant and the Local Restriction Support Grants that launched last week. ARGs are for businesses that don’t pay business rates but have either been forced to close or limit their trading during the latest lockdown and still have fixed ongoing costs to pay, like rent or mortgage payments, loans or lease agreements, or workspace rental.
In this way they differ from the Localised Restrictions Support Grants – the LRGs- which are for businesses that do pay business rates and have been told to close by the government.
Like other grant schemes, we’ve tried to make this process as straightforward and transparent as possible so everyone who wants to apply can do so quickly and easily once the scheme opens on Friday. You can find more details about eligibility criteria and how to apply on our website at cornwall.gov.uk/SmallBusinessGrant
I urge any business that wants to apply for either grant to get in touch as soon as possible. Protecting Cornwall’s business community through this latest lockdown and on through the winter months is a vital part of the recovery process, and we will continue to do all we can to help.
This is especially true as we look towards Christmas, and the prospect of a very different kind of festive period.
It’s difficult to contemplate a trip to the shops when we’re still in the middle of a lockdown, but our high streets will need us over the festive season more than ever. That’s why it’s important that, where we can this holiday season, we Keep it Cornish and buy local.
That’s the idea behind our Keep it Cornish campaign, which encourages residents to support our high streets and local businesses in a covid-safe and responsible way. We’re working in partnership with organisations like the Federation of Small Businesses and the Cornwall Chamber of Commerce to promote our high streets in any way we can.
Of course, in the midst of a pandemic many are choosing to shop online, which means those who aren’t yet online risk missing out.
So in the coming weeks we’ll be working with businesses from all sectors and of all sizes to provide simple, actionable advice on how to sell online.
You can find more information about the Keep it Cornish campaign on the Let’s Talk Cornwall website at letstalk.cornwall.gov.uk
As we enter the final fortnight of this second lockdown we continue to see a worrying rise in Coronavirus infections – particularly in East and North East Cornwall.And whereas previously these infection spikes were confined to work settings where large groups of people regularly mix, we are now seeing a rise in community transmission.The virus doesn’t discriminate. It will infect a loved one as readily as a perfect stranger, and it can easily spread whether you’re at home or out in public.So I cannot stress enough how vital it is that we all continue to follow the public health guidance around social distancing, wearing face coverings, and washing our hands regularly.That doesn’t just mean when we’re outside our homes.
If you or a family member has symptoms or has tested positive you must self-isolate, and you and those you live with must follow the same guidance at home as you would when outside.I understand that is especially difficult if one member of the family tests positive and others do not, but it’s vitally important that we do everything we can to limit the spread of the virus in our communities.
To help, we’ll shortly be releasing a guide with information and straightforward advice on how to self-isolate at home so you can help keep other family members safe while you recover.
Cllr Hawken’s remarks:
We have seen an increase in the number of cases of COVID in our schools, particularly over the last 3 weeks and particularly in the East. Which is a reflection of the increased number of cases in our local communities.We have seen cases rising in Saltash, Launceston, Liskeard, Torpoint and Bude and all of us have to continue to follow the public health guidance to try and reduce the spread of COVID, not just in these communities, but across Cornwall.There have been decisions to close a handful of schools across Cornwall for a brief period to enable deep cleaning and for a reassessment of the COVID safety plans or where number of staff self isolating is an issue teaching has had to go online.
I know this has led to conversations about whether schools are safe and should they close? We need to put this into perspective: 0.2% of the total school population in Cornwall have tested positive for COVID.What we do know is that the majority of single cases in schools and the small number of clusters often relate to the contact and spread of COVID we see in the community – they are just more visible in the school environment.Only in a very small number of situations have we been able to identify transmission from a school setting. School leaders are up to date with current COVID safety practice through regular communication.Our Public Health team are working with schools and their bubbles or table plans and friendship groups to successfully identify key contacts and avoid sending home children to self-isolate unnecessarily.
We feel this offers, in many cases, minimal disruption to education. All of this is done with the collaboration and hard work of the school affected, who have been working hard to put in place a home learning experience for those that do have to self-isolate. Part of slowing the spread in our community is following the guidance on bubbles. Your child is allowed in two bubbles – one for school, with their classmates, and one support bubble, to help with childcare and that can be either friend or family member.
If you chose grandparents as your extra bubble they can only look after one set of grandchildren. If they have two sets of grandchildren, they will have to choose to form a bubble with one set only…They must not mix bubbles. We all need to follow the guidance from Public Health – It is our responsibility and our responses, which are key to keeping numbers down here in Cornwall in our communities and our schools.