New coronavirus variant
The Prime Minister announced on 19 December that there was a new variant of the virus.
Some frequently asked questions on the new variant can be found below.
Rapid community testing for symptom-free people
From January 18, the council is offering free rapid community testing to certain people living and/or working in the borough without symptoms.
One in three people with COVID-19 do not show symptoms and are unaware that they might be spreading the infection – this testing can help identify these individuals. Once identified, we are able to trace contacts and prevent transmission of infection to others.
It’s available for:
- People who are unable to work from home, come into contact with the public and have no access to other rapid testing – for example taxi drivers, tradespeople, carers, social workers, nursery staff, etc.
- Close contacts of people who are clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) to COVID-19. We are not asking CEV take part, only their close contacts.
The testing, which is free, will take place at Riverside Children’s Centre, North Shields, and is available to book now. The site is open seven days a week with varying opening times.
Tests are self-administered and results are available within an hour, enabling people to quickly self-isolate.
The testing is to identify positive cases and it’s really important that those taking part continue to follow the government lockdown and public health advice, even if they test negative.
You can find out more information, including opening times, and book here.
Please note, the rapid tests are for people without symptoms. Testing remains available for everyone in the borough with symptoms. If you have symptoms (a continuous cough, high temperate or loss/change to your sense of smell or taste), you should self-isolate and book a test at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119.
Covid-19 Support Hub
Our dedicated support hub has been stepped back up for those in need of immediate help and support and who can’t call on family, friends, neighbours or carers.
It is available to anyone in urgent need of non-clinical help in the borough, but priority will be given to those identified by the NHS as clinically extremely vulnerable due to health conditions.
Support will be tailored for individual needs, including welfare phone calls, help with accessing food shopping and medicine deliveries.
The opening hours for the COVID-19 support hub are Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm, and is available via TEL: 0345 2000 101 or emailing email@example.com
The council’s emergency contact numbers remain available as normal. You can find details on these here.
North Tyneside-based charity VODA is coordinating volunteers in North Tyneside, please visit www.voda.org.uk for more information including if you would like to volunteer.
Walk-through testing sites
Two walk-through coronavirus testing facilities, on behalf of the Department of Health and Social Care, have opened. One is at the Parks Leisure Centre, Howdon Road, North Shields and the second is in the Coronation Street car park in Wallsend. Testing hours will be 8am-8pm, 7 days a week.
The facilities are temporary and form part of the Government’s nationwide drive to improve access to testing for communities. The sites have been chosen to ensure that the community has a local testing facility available which can be easily accessed.
Anyone with coronavirus symptoms, can book a time slot to get a free swab test that takes less than a minute at this site. If you have symptoms, you should book or order a test straight away at nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119. There is currently a very high demand for tests, so if you can’t get through to the booking system at first, or the time or location you’re offered aren’t convenient, try again in a few hours.
Resuming of care home visits
National guidance has been updated for visiting in care homes, which describes how they can provide safe visiting for friends and family of residents during this period of national restrictions. We have written to all care homes in North Tyneside to outline how care homes can facilitate this, as well as how the council can support them to do so.
The national guidance includes criteria that a home must meet to facilitate COVID-secure visiting.
While the decision to provide COVID-secure visits is an individual decision for each care home to make, we would encourage homes to facilitate this as soon as they are able, ensuring that the criteria is met. In doing so, homes can continue to reduce the risk of transmission of the virus and protect residents and staff, while at the same time allowing residents to be reunited with their relatives once more.
Those wishing to visit a friend or family member in a care home should check with the provider that they’re open for visits.
Public Health advice
You can read the most up to date advice from Public Health England on their website.
You can also stay up to date with useful NHS info.
The government has set out its plan to return life to as near normal as possible by helping control the virus and staying alert. This means you must:
- work from home if you can
- limit contact with other people
- keep your distance if you go out (2 metres apart where possible)
- wash your hands regularly
Do not leave home if you or anyone in your household has symptoms.
Our Public Health team has provided information on health and wellbeing during COVID-19, including support to stop smoking, protect mental health and keep active. You can access this advice here.
Parents of children from 0 - 19 years-old can get advice and guidance from our 0 - 19 Public Health Service
Read advice on what to do if your child is unwell or injured during the coronavirus pandemic.
North Tyneside Covid-19 Outbreak Control Plan
A plan that aims to prevent any future localised outbreaks of coronavirus in North Tyneside and also manage any new spikes of infections has been published.
You can find that plan here.
Test and trace support payment
The Government announced that from 28 September in England, there will be a new legal duty on all those who test positive for COVID-19 or are identified by NHS Test and Trace as a close contact, requiring them to self-isolate. Failure to comply will be an offence carrying a fine of at least £1,000 and up to £10,000 for multiple breaches.
Alongside this new requirement, the government is providing funding for a Test and Trace Support Payment scheme for people on low incomes who are unable to work while they are self-isolating and are financially impacted because they cannot work from home..
Individuals who are required to self-isolate and who meet the benefits-linked eligibility criteria will be entitled to £500. This will be payable as a lump sum. These payments will be subject to income tax but not National Insurance contributions.
Who will be eligible for the Test and Trace Support Payment?
To be eligible for the Test and Trace Support Payment, an individual must:
- have been asked to stay at home and self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace directly via a phone call or email, or by the NHS Covid -19 app, either because they've tested positive for coronavirus or have recently been in close contact with someone who has tested positive; and have responded to messages received from NHS Test and Trace (by email, text, letter, or phone call) in which they provided their contact details; and where they have tested positive, the details of their close contacts;
- If the app has advised you to self-isolate because you’ve been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus, you’ll need to request an NHS Test and Trace Account ID. For further information what to do https://faq.covid19.nhs.uk/article/KA-01339
- be employed or self-employed;
- be unable to work from home and will lose income as a result; and
- be currently receiving Universal Credit, Working Tax Credit, income-based Employment and Support Allowance, income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, Income Support, Housing Benefit and/or Pension Credit.
When making you claim you must provide the following evidence.
- A notification from NHS Test & Trace asking you to self-isolate (including your unique NHS Test and Trace Account ID. This is an 8-digit code also known as a CTAS number.
- A bank statement,
- Proof of employment, or if you are self-employed, self-employment assessment returns, trading income and proof that you cannot work from home and that you will not receive any employment or business income for the isolation period
- Proof of one of the qualifying benefits shown in point 4 above.
For those people who meet the criteria in point 1 to 4 above but are not in receipt of the required benefits outlined in point 4, may still qualify for some support if they have low income and can demonstrate they are suffering financial hardship You will need to explain in detail why you are in hardship and provide us with information around your income and household circumstances.
Please note: NHS Test and Trace is a national system. Local Councils have no control over this system and are unable to review any individual cases that do not meet eligibility criteria outlined. It is important that anyone who has received a notification to self-isolate must self-isolate for the full period.
Information in other formats and languages
You can find the most up to date Government advice at www.gov.uk – this information is published in html format suitable for use with screen readers.
Information on Coronavirus in additional formats and languages
The Government has published:
Easy Read guides on:
- New rules about Covid-19 in England - the 3 tiers
- Making a Christmas Bubble with Friends and Family
- COVID-19 Winter Plan
- Keeping your workers safe
- Social Distancing Guide
- Stay at home: What to do if you or someone in your household has symptoms of coronavirus
- Looking after your feelings and your body
- How to apply for Universal Credit
- Domestic abuse: get help during the coronavirus
- Young carers and young adult carers: providing care during coronavirus
- Get support in work during coronavirus outbreak if you have a disability or health condition (Access to Work)
- A guide for people who could get very ill from coronavirus
Guidance in other languages including: Arabic, Bengali, Cantonese, Mandarin, French, Gujarati, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi and Urdu:
- Making a Christmas bubble with friends and family
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): reducing risk in adult social care
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): Social distancing
- COVID-19: guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection
- Safe use of places of worship
- How to support children and young people's health and wellbeing during Covid-19
- How to look after your mental health and wellbeing during Covid-19
- Guidance on funerals during Covid-19
- Guidance for contacts of people with a positive test result for Covid-19
Information in some languages only
For guidance and information in British Sign Language (BSL):
- Letter to clinically extremely vulnerable people from Matt Hancock – British Sign Language - YouTube
- Signhealth are producing BSL videos with the latest information and health advice.
- Daily updates from the Government with BSL interpretation are on BBC 107 or 231 at 5pm and on BBC iplayer – you will need to register or sign in.
- National Deaf Children’s Society have advice for the parents of Deaf children and for Deaf young people.
- Department for Work and Pensions Disability Helpline- contact them by video relay service about Personal Independence Payments (PIP), Disability Living Allowance and Attendance Allowance
For Blind people and people with sight loss:
Letter to clinically extremely vulnerable people from Matt Hancock is available in braille, audio and large print formats, email Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) or call 0303 123 9999
The Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) is publishing Covid-19 news and guides
Large print publications:
- Making a Christmas bubble with friends and family
- Local restriction tiers: what you need to know
- COVID-19 Winter Plan
The followig videos are aimed at supporting people with learning disabilities and carers
This video is for people with learning disabilities to help them understand about the tier system in place in England. It describes what you can and can’t do.
This video is for people with learning disabilities to help them understand why wearing a face mask is important, how to find a face mask that suits them and how to get used to wearing it.
This video is for family members or carers of people with learning disabilities to help them understand why wearing a face mask is important, how to find a face mask that suits the person they support and how to help them get used to wearing it.
This video is for people with learning disabilities to help them understand the rules on Christmas bubbles over the Christmas period.
How council services are affected
We have plans in place to make sure our services for the most vulnerable can continue but some services will be affected.
Births deaths and marriages
The office at Preston cemetery is closed but the team can still be contacted by email and telephone.
Services at Tynemouth and Whitley Bay crematoria, as well as the three burial chapels at Preston, Holy Cross and Dudley, are limited to up to 10 mourners and it is advised that congregations space themselves out as much as possible. Face coverings are mandatory inside for those who can wear one.
Appointments can now be made at The Riverside Children’s centre for Birth Declarations on 0191 6438899.
Libraries will still be able to offer an order and collect service for our residents.
Libraries will still be closed for general public access but residents will be able to continue to use our online catalogue and request specific books, or ask our staff to put together a selection.
The order and collect service is available from White Swan Customer First Centre, North Shields Customer First Centre, Wallsend Customer First Centre, Whitley Bay Customer First Centre, John Willie Sams Centre in Dudley and the Oxford Centre in Longbenton.
We will also be able to continue providing limited access to the public computers in our libraries, which we know a number of residents find immensely useful.
This is restricted to one session a week, up to a maximum of 45 minutes and must be booked in advance by phoning the relevant library. Residents will not be able to walk in and use a computer without a booking.
Branch libraries in North Tyneside will also be offering an order and collect service from Tuesday 8 December. Contact your local library for more information.
Car parking permits
Non-essential services have been reinstated, but may be operating at a slightly reduced service. This includes services such as planting, graffiti removal, public rights of way management, weed spraying and grass cutting.
Street cleansing services have continued throughout the pandemic and continue to prioritise the emptying of dog and litter bins, and the removal of fly tipping. We will also continue to remove fly tipping and carry out street sweeping in priority areas including the coast and town centres.
Public toilets are open across the borough and are open from 10am to 4pm.
Please follow the guidance on posters inside and out.
Waste Recycling Centre
The Household Waste Recycling Centre, managed by Suez, at Wallsend Road, North Shields, is operating in a limited capacity, by appointment only, and with strict social distancing measures. Find out how to book here.
Allotments can be used, providing strict social distancing and health advice is observed. For full details click here.
Home to School Transport
The Home to School Transport Service will be operating for eligible children who are returning to school from Monday 1st June 2020.
The Local Authority has been working with schools to review transport arrangements to ensure children travel safely to school during the current pandemic.
We understand that, due to the current situation, many parents will feel that the best option for their child is to drive them to school using their own vehicle. We would like to remind parents that should you wish to transport your child to school in your own vehicle, the Local Authority will reimburse you at a rate of 40p per mile and will pay for four journeys to school and back each day.
For those parents who require transport to be provided by the Local Authority, it is our priority to ensure that children are safely transported and that drivers, passenger assistants, parents, and school staff are all protected. As a result, we have had to amend routes to reduce the number of children in each vehicle. While we cannot ensure that the driver and/or passenger assistant for your child's journey will be unchanged as the coronavirus situation continues, we will do our best to keep transport arrangements as regular as possible.
We have asked transport providers where possible to:
- apply social distancing in vehicles by reducing the number of pupils per vehicle and increase the amount of space between passengers.
- restrict the number of passengers travelling in a saloon car to no more than 3 (the driver, the passenger assistant and the pupil).
- travel without a passenger assistant when transporting older children, if this is safe to do so and only if the Headteacher of the school agrees this. (Larger vehicles will also have a reduced number of passengers and providers will eliminate face-to-face seating).
- make every effort to use a fixed pairing system, ideally with a driver and passenger assistant from the same household, but this will not always be possible.
- ensure vehicles are well-ventilated to increase the flow of air, for example, by opening a window when it is safe to do so
- ensure all drivers and passenger assistants follow hygiene rules and promote the cleaning of surfaces, handles and seats in the vehicle with anti-bacterial products on a regular basis
- If you would like to arrange to apply for a mileage allowance to transport your own child, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 0191 6438726.
Repairs are able to continue despite the new national restrictions, with all repairs done in a socially distanced manner.
As always, if you would like to report a repair or have any questions please contact us on 0345 2000 102 or email email@example.com
Tyne and Wear Homes
All business is being conducted via email. The team will not be sending out medical assessment forms, landlord references, or letters during this time. Applications will still be processed in line with the 15 working day target.
Sport and leisure services and activities
Please see here for the latest information.
Many highways services that were suspended have resumed - there's more information here.
North Tyneside Living Retirement Accommodation
The borough's playsites and skateparks have now reopened, with exception of the water park in Whitley Bay.
In line with national guidance, new signage will be displayed at each location. The signs will remind visitors to follow good hygiene practices and not to exceed the individual play site’s maximum capacity.
A takeaway service is being provided from cafes at the Rising Sun Countryside Park, Northumberland Park and Wallsend Parks.
Some public toilets in parks remain closed. The following park toilets are now open: Tynemouth Park, Churchill Playing Fields, Wallsend Park, Rising Sun Country Park.
The environmental education programme and use of conferencing rooms is suspended.
The Mouth of the Tyne Festival has been rescheduled to 8-11 July 2021
The North Tyneside 10k Road Race has been rescheduled to SUNDAY 4 APRIL 2021
Tynemouth Food Festival has been postponed and new dates will be announced soon
Other cancelled events include Cullercoats Harbour Day, Whitley Bay Carnival, Goldwings Light Parade, VE Day celebrations, Fake Festival, Shiremoor Treat, Great North Wheelchair Line Up, Whitley Lodge Fair, North Shields RNLI Day.
A full list of cancelled or rescheduled events can be found at www.visitnorthtyneside.com
We are working to deliver planning services during the outbreak, however our planning reception service has been temporarily suspended. Find out how to contact the team here.
For any other licensing queries, please be aware that, as with the Taxi Licensing service, our office is not open to visits by the public. To get in touch, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications should be made online through gov.uk or by post: Licensing, Block C, The Killingworth Site, Harvey Combe, Killingworth, NE12 6UB.
All elections including any by-elections for casual vacancies that may emerge have been postponed until May 2021.
A review of meetings of the Authority that are scheduled to take place in the next few weeks is ongoing and some meetings are now being held virtually and streamed live publicly on the Authority’s YouTube channel. In addition urgency provisions contained in the Constitution and Officer Delegation Scheme as appropriate will be invoked to ensure the Council’s decision making processes continue.
Ward surgeries are cancelled until further notice. If you need to contact your ward councillor please do so via e-mail or telephone. Contact details can be found here.
Household waste, recycling and garden waste are being collected as normal. Find your collection dates on our handy online look up tool.
If you have symptoms of coronavirus (Covid-19) please make sure you double bag your household waste. Tie these bags up and keep them in the room you are self-isolating in, in a covered area so you aren't coughing over them, for 72 hours before popping them in your household waste bin.
Even if you do not have symptoms please help protect our collection staff and make sure your bin lid is fully closed for collection to prevent contamination.
Council tax support and hardship fund
The Council operates a Council Tax Support scheme to help those on low income pay their Council Tax. The Government is providing additional funding for those working age residents receiving Council Tax Support to further reduce the Council Tax they have to pay.
Over nine thousand working age households living in North Tyneside who are in receipt of Council Tax Support will benefit from a reduction of up to £150.00 on their Council Tax bill.
58% of these will not have to pay any Council Tax for the financial year 2020/21, removing the worry of how to meet their Council Tax during these difficult times.
This additional support will automatically be granted and claimants do not need to make a claim. New Council Tax bills will be issued as soon as possible with the additional support applied.
Any Council Tax that is paid in April for those who do not need to pay anything will receive a refund.
If you currently do not claim Council Tax Support and you are on a low income, you should check whether you are entitled to claim by using the online calculator and submitting a claim.
Support for residents
Employment and financial support
Employment and skills
Find out more about how our Employment and skills team can help you.
Temporary pavement licences
A temporary pavement licence enables the placement of temporary furniture, such as tables and chairs, outside cafes bars, and restaurants. For more information and how to apply, click here
Domestic abuse support
We know that this is a difficult and worrying time for everyone – but particularly so for adults and children living with domestic abuse.
We want you to know that we are continuing to offer support to domestic abuse victims, where possible this will be over the phone or online.
Support for local businesses
Click here for a letter to businesses from our Director of Public Health and an 'action card' for workplaces on outbreak management.
The Government has announced a number of measures to support businesses and their employees during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, to support the economic recovery.
There is a dedicated page with all of the latest guidance, FAQs and information for businesses announced by the UK Government on the North Tyneside Business Forum website.
Further information on the support for businesses can be found on the gov.uk website.
Guidance for employees, employers and businesses can be found on the gov.uk website
Practical Business Advice & Support
The Business Helpline is available from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, on (0191) 516 6699. Messages will be taken out of hours and a return call made the next morning.
The Business Helpline staffed by an experienced business adviser at the Business Factory North Tyneside.
You can also email email@example.com
For practical business support, please refer to the North Tyneside Business Forum’s dedicated page and register to join North Tyneside Business Forum for free or follow them on social media. Information will be going out first through these channels to businesses across the borough.
For access to Business Start up & Growth support plus access to specialist consultants visit The Business Factory.
The Business Recovery Programme is also providing Quick-access, free and practical hands-on support for North Tyneside businesses to aid their recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic more information can be found on the Business Support page.
National Trading Standards’ Business Against Scheme provides advice on how not fall victim to fraud.
Christmas Support Payments for Wet led Pubs
On 1st December 2020 the government announced the introduction of additional support over the festive period for wet-led pubs in areas under Tier 2 or 3 restrictions. The scheme is called the Christmas Support Payment (CSP).
You must apply for the grant no later than midnight on Sunday 31 January 2021.
Under the CSP scheme, wet-led pubs within North Tyneside will be eligible to receive a one-off lump sum payment amounting to £1,000. To be eligible you must be a wet-led pub which derives less than 50% of your income from food sales.
The following eligibility criteria will apply:
- You must operate as a Public House;
- Based in North Tyneside
- Trading on the 4th November 2020;
- Have an active Business Rates account on 1st December 2020;
- Derive less than 50% of your sales income from food (as part of the post payment grant checks you may be asked to provide evidence that demonstrates that less than 50% of the business sales income is from food);
- Not have exceeded the permitted state-aid threshold;
- Not be in administration, insolvent or where a striking-off notice has been made.
For the purpose of the CSP, a Public House should under normal circumstances (without local or national restrictions) be open to the general public, allowing free entry other than when occasional entertainment is provided, allow drinking without requiring food to be consumed and permit drinks to be purchased at a bar.
The following types of business are excluded from the definition of a public house and are therefore not eligible for the support:
Restaurants; Cafes; Nightclubs; Hotels; Snack bars; Guesthouses; Boarding houses; Sporting venues; Music venues; Festival sites; Theatres; Museums; Exhibition halls; Cinemas; Concert halls; Casinos.
For eligible applications, grants will be paid to the registered business rate payer for the business property.
Further information can be found at GOV.UK.
Small Business Grant Fund and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund
In line with Central Government guidance these grant schemes are now closed.
Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund
Funding for the Local Authority Discretionary Grant Fund has been fully allocated and the scheme is now closed.
Local Restrictions Support Grants
North Tyneside Council are currently delivering 7 grant schemes on behalf of Government. These are for the periods:
- 18 Sept – 04 Nov 2020
- 05 Nov – 01 Dec 2020
- 02 Dec – 29 Dec 2020
- 30 Dec 2020 – 04 Jan 2021
- 5 Jan onwards
Businesses should, if they haven’t already done so, refer to the eligibility document below, and if you haven’t already done so please apply using the application form (Tier 2 and National Lockdown #2). Businesses which have already received payments should not make an application for future payments, this will be automatically applied for eligible periods.
Please note the Additional Restrictions Support Grant is being used, in line with the 7 North East Councils, to support businesses which are not ratepayers and those in the supply chain to Hospitality, Leisure & Accommodation occupying commercial premises.
Businesses which are not forced to close under law, but have chosen to close are not eligible for the current grant scheme. Businesses without commercial premises are also not eligible.
If you need to get in touch by phone you can call (0345) 200 0101.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) - Urgent Needs
An increase in demand for both PPE and non-PPE products has put the supply chain under significant pressure.
It is important that usage of PPE equipment across all sectors is in line with the following guidance: Gov.UK national guidance.
New PPE Portal
The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) has put in place a PPE Portal allowing Healthcare providers to order from a central inventory. The PPE portal can be used by social care and primary care providers to order and receive critical coronavirus (COVID-19) personal protective equipment (PPE). The Portal can be accessed below:
Who Can Use the PPE Portal
You can only log in and place an order if you have received an email invitation to register. The PPE portal can be used by:
- residential social care providers
- domiciliary social care providers
- children’s care homes and secure homes
- children’s residential special schools
If you’re a provider in one of these categories, your invitation to register will be sent to your email account registered with Care Quality Commission (CQC), NHS Business Services Authority (BSA), NHS England or the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
When to Use the PPE Portal
The PPE portal is an emergency top-up system.
You should continue using your business-as-usual and wholesaler routes to access PPE. You should only use the PPE portal for additional PPE if needed and quantities available to order are set out on the website.
National Supply Disruption Response (NSDR)
The National Supply Disruption Response 24/7 helpline 0800 915 9964 is still available if you are not able to get PPE from your usual sources. This is a freephone number in the UK. They may be able to supply emergency and small kits, for example 100-200 units of each type of PPE.
You will need to supply the following information during your call:
- name, email and telephone number of the requestor
- name, email and telephone number of a contact for the next 24 hours (for example out of hours cover if the original requestor will be unavailable)
- delivery address, including postcode; and named contact for receiving deliveries
- confirmation that your organisation can receive the delivery outside of normal business hours
- number of COVID-19 patients being treated (confirmed and suspected)
- number of beds in your organisation (if appropriate)
- details of your current stock situation
- how long your current PPE stock provides cover for (for example less then 24 hours; one to two days, or more than two days)
- which products you are requesting and in what quantity
The NSDR is focused on fulfilling emergency orders, for example orders required in less than 72 hours. They do not have access to the full lines of stock but they are able to mobilise small priority orders quickly.
Support and resources to help children, young people, carers and their families
We recognise that children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) and their parents/ carers are facing numerous challenges as a result of Coronavirus (Covid-19). This document is intended to explain what support is available on a local level to children, young people, carers and families and to offer resources to support children, young people and their families during this time.