Coronavirus update - message from Elected Mayor of Watford Peter Taylor
19 March 2020
This is an update about Coronavirus, what is happening in our town and what work we are undertaking as a council as well as support available in our community. I am sure you can also understand that this is a fast moving situation and so we will update this with any news or changes when we can.
I know that this is a concerning and unprecedented time for many in our town, but by working together and supporting each other we will get through this.
It is important that people follow the government’s health advice. This includes regular hand washing (each time for 20 seconds), avoiding touching your face, working from home when you can and avoiding large gatherings.
If you have a symptom of Coronavirus, you must self-isolate at home for seven days if you live alone and fourteen days if you live with others, from the day the first person in a household has symptoms. Everyone in your household must do the same. The symptoms are either:
- a high temperature – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
- a new, continuous cough – this means you've started coughing repeatedly
The government and Public Health England have introduced a number of measures in order to control the spread of the virus, which we should adhere to. These include social distancing measures, the closure of schools starting on Friday (except for children of key workers), the closure of some London Underground stations and other measures. Please follow this link for the official advice on this. Transport for London have published the list of stations shut today.
Many people have already been in touch offering support to ‘at risk’ groups in our town. We are so grateful for these offers of help. We are working with our local charities to set up an official Watford Borough Council volunteer service, which we will share details of shortly. In the meantime, if you are in need urgent support because you are self isolating, please contact Herts Help at 0300 123 4044.
Supporting the Vulnerable
One of the key priorities of the council at this time is to support vulnerable people. We are working in particular to find a safe space for those rough sleeping to self-isolate and identify those in particular need of medical attention. We are also working to identify those who in particular need of support who are currently self-isolating.
The Police have issued this safety warning regarding people potentially taking advantage of those self-isolating. Please remember never to give out your bank details or hand cash to a stranger.
I am pleased that the following supermarkets have introduced the following opening hours for over 70’s and other vulnerable customers.Please respect these hours to make sure that at risks groups can get the items they need.
Tesco Extra Watford – The store will have special opening hours on Monday, Wednesday and Friday 9-10am for vulnerable and elderly customers.
Sainsbury’s – Sainsbury’s will be using the first hour of each day it is open, starting from today (19 March), for elderly and vulnerable customers. Please check their website for opening hours. From Monday 23 March, elderly or disabled customers will have priority on online delivery slots.
Morrisons- Morrisons will be providing a phone service for customers without the internet to order groceries over the phone. I will send an update when this number is launched.
Iceland– Iceland in Watford is opening from 8-9am each day for just the elderly and vulnerable to shop.
We know that many local businesses are already struggling. The government has announced unprecedented levels of financial support for businesses and we will be working hard to support local businesses to take advantage of these schemes. This includes providing business rates relief as soon as it is possible and working with the Watford BID and Chamber of Commerce to support individual businesses in trouble.
The HMRC have also established a helpline for the self-employed and businesses affected by COVID19. Please call 0300 456 3565 or 0800 0159 559 if you need help/advice.
The council is well prepared to work during this time, prioritising key services such as bin collections and our funeral services. Future council meetings have now been cancelled based on government advice. Licensing and planning meetings will be held virtually with members of the public still having the opportunity to contribute to these meetings.
Watford Museum and Cheslyn House will be closed indefinitely on the basis of advice from Public Health England. Watford Palace Theatre and the Watford Colosseum will be closed to the public as well and no longer hosting performances. Our annual Easter Wat’s on activities have also sadly had to be cancelled.
The Town Hall is open. However, to protect yourself and others, and in line with government guidance, we are asking customers to use our online service or telephone (01923 226400) channels rather than visiting us to avoid non-essential face to face contact.
The government is advising people to exercise regularly and our parks and open spaces are still open for the public to use and stringent hygiene measures have also been put in place in these areas by our Parks Team.
We know how important it is that people have up-to-date and accurate information and know how to get help if they need it. Every household will receive an information leaflet from the council next week so they know the official places to get support from.
Our councillors have been phoning hundreds of older residents to check up on them. This is also to help identify who may be in need of support. Please do not give your bank details to anyone who you do not know or people over the phone who are offering to provide help.
As I am sure you understand, information is changing all the time and this is a fast moving situation, so I will be updating you daily with official information that I hope it of help to you and your family.
I am so grateful to everyone who had offered to help or is doing their best at this difficult time – especially our NHS and everyone at Watford General Hospital. They do such a tremendous job for us, day in day out whatever the circumstances they are faced with. We owe them an enormous debt of gratitude.
This is a tough and unprecedented time but together we will get through it.
Elected Mayor of Watford