Businesses, schools and organisations in Thanet have been taking precautions in a bid to contain the coronavirus spread and many events are now being cancelled or rescheduled for later dates.
Small businesses across the isle are reporting a drop in trade whilst supermarkets are experiencing bulk buying from panicked customers.
Taxis, isle coach operators and independent travel businesses are also being hit as more people choose to ‘self-isolate’ as a precaution against the virus.
Many self-employed residents are questioning how the government will help them cope with the loss of trade over the coming weeks with the virus peak not expected until mid to late June.
As of 9am on 17 March 2020, 50,442 people have been tested in the UK, of which 48,492 were confirmed negative and 1,950 were confirmed as positive. The latest confirmed number of deaths will be announced later today.
As of yesterday (March 16) 55 people were confirmed to have died from the disease. In Kent 12 people have been diagnosed with the virus with a further two in Medway. Confirmed cases in Thanet include one at Birchington Vale, another in Westgate, and a parent of a Chatham & Clarendon grammar student.
Business rate relief
If you are a pub or retail business that receives business rate relief, your latest business rate invoice may be incorrect.
Following the latest government changes:
Eligible pubs can now claim £5,000 relief (£1,000 previously).
Eligible retail stores can now get 100% Business Rate relief. (30% previously)
New bills are being prepared.
Face-to-face assessments for all sickness and disability benefits will be suspended for the next three months, the government announced today (March 17).
The temporary move, effective now, is being taken as a precautionary measure to protect vulnerable people from unnecessary risk of exposure to coronavirus as the country’s response ramps up in the ‘delay’ phase. We will ensure those who are entitled to a benefit continue to receive support, and that new claimants are able to access the safety net.
It affects claimants of Personal Independence Payment, those on Employment and Support Allowance and some on Universal Credit, and recipients of Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit.
The suspension of face-to-face assessments also covers new claims to those benefits.
Work and Pensions Secretary Thérèse Coffey said: “As we move into the next phase of our response to coronavirus, it is right we take steps to protect those with health problems.
“Temporarily suspending face-to-face assessments for sickness and disability benefits will allow us to ensure we continue to provide a safety net for those in need, while removing unnecessary risk of exposure to this disease.”
Anyone who has a face-to-face assessment appointment scheduled from today onwards does not need to attend and will be contacted to discuss next steps and alternative arrangements, which could involve either telephone or paper-based assessments. It is expected this measure will be in effect for the next three months but will be regularly reviewed in line with Public Health advice.
No further action is required by any claimant as a result of this change. They will be contacted with advice on next steps.
Suspending face-to-face health assessments is a precautionary measure which reflects the Prime Minister’s decision to trigger the ‘delay’ phase.
Isle schools have issued guidance and some, including Newington primary, have cancelled trips and gatherings such as school discos.
A message to parents of Newington pupils says: “It is incumbent on us to reduce the risks to children and visitors as much as possible. One way to attempt to do this is to reduce the number of contacts that we have between the school community and external visitors, as well as reducing the number of times when large numbers of people come together in one place. This means that trips and visitors will be reviewed.”
St Gregory’s Catholic Primary School Margate is cancelling the following events:
• PTFA Special Person Shop on Friday 20th March
• All assemblies
• Y3/4 Author’s Abroad Day on Tuesday 24th March
• Science Workshops Wednesday 25th March
• KS1 Open Afternoon on Thursday 26th March
• Brilliant Club to Kings College on Monday 30th March
Almost all isle schools have issued notices on their websites with coronavirus guidance and links to government information.
Helping each other
The Thanet community is pulling together to make sure help is offered to those who may have to self-isolate due to the coronvirus.
Numerous facebook pages, including New Thanet Chat, have posts advising those in self isolation who have a request for help with shopping or other errands to let the community know so arrangements can be made.
The Broadstairs facebook page has a pinned post where people can ask for help. Dozens of people have posted to the page to offer their services.
Thanet Community Transport already provides a shopping service for anyone who is unable to get out. All staff are CRB/DBS checked. They are happy to help anyone who needs shopping in the current situation. Please call on 01843 602030.
A Ramsgate resident was so upset after witnessing elderly shoppers struggling to get provisions in stripped bare supermarkets that he has gone on a mission to help.
Lewis Pindar, 29, has bought toilet rolls, pasta and washing up liquid and is asking for help to get supplies such as water, tinned and dry food, hygiene products, pet food and antibacterial wipes or spray so he can distribute them to older residents.
He said: “I’m doing it because there’s a lot of vulnerable people who can’t get out to get the essential bits they need, especially those who are the most vulnerable to the virus itself so they can’t even go out for fear of contracting the virus.
“I’ve seen so many old people out today and they can’t buy anything. It’s upset me. Sometimes it just takes one person to take charge to start a movement to help people and others jump on and make it happen.
“I can’t do it by myself, I’m not well off or anything, so every little helps. It’s just about getting these bits to people who need them. I haven’t enough for a lot yet, I’ve put all I can in, but I’ve got other people now donating bits to me which is good.”
To donate items or let Lewis know about someone in need email him on email@example.com
New help groups offering aid to those affected by the coronavirus outbreak are springing up on facebook -including one for Thanet and another for Kent.
The groups are in response to the growing number of cases as the virus spreads and the resultant panic buying which has stripped supermarket shelves.
Food Warehouse at Westwood Retail Park will open an hour earlier at 7am on Tuesday (March 17) with the first hour of shopping for pensioners only.
Store manager Casey Abbott, who made the decision, said: “This is only for OAPs and it will be at my discretion for them to come in. This will give them the chance to shop peacefully for one hour.”
J Prentis Westgate grocers is also offering ‘contactless delivery’. You can call, text or email they will put your order together and deliver it free of charge. Call 01843 834934.
Thanet Wanderers Schools Programme
Cary Wright announces that regrettably, after discussion with the organisers and personnel at the schools, the schools festival due to be held tomorrow (March 17) and next week on March 25-26 have been cancelled.
The after schools Hhubs will also be put on hold until further notice. Both of these measures are part of the precautionary measures to support the initiatives to curtail the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
The Pavilion Youth and Community Cafe
We hope everyone stays well, and looks out for those around us who we may be able to help as well.”
Levellers at Dreamland
The Levellers have decided to postpone their upcoming Dreamland gig on March 21 until September 3. Existing ticket holders should contact SEE tickets for next steps here: bit.ly/2eo7Ctw
Margate Museum and Tudor House
The museum and Tudor House in Margate have closed due to risk to volunteers, who mainly fall in the high risk age category.
A statement says: “In the current risk situation, with the Coronavirus ,The Trustees are closing the museum for at least two weeks from today, March 14. This is to minimise the risk to our volunteers who mainly fall within the range of high risk age group. We apologise for any inconvenience but hope that you will understand our reasons.
“We thank you for your support, any queries can be left on message or on firstname.lastname@example.org. or 01843 231213.”
Birchington Medical Centre
Bethesda Medical Centre
Patients are being asked to phone regarding new appointments/contacts rather than turning up at the surgery.
Ramsgate Music Hall
A statement says: “We appreciate that these are stressful times for us all and we must remain united as one to move forward. However, the long-term future of the venue is in undeniable danger.
“For those who have purchased tickets for shows that are now postponed, we kindly ask that you take the option to transfer these tickets to the new dates. This requires no action from you; only to confirm that you’re happy for us to proceed with the transfer. These new dates will be announced in time.
“Of course, we will still be offering full refunds, but we would be greatly appreciative if the majority of ticket buyers took the option to simply transfer their tickets. This decision does not need to be made with any urgency, and we’re happy to remain in conversation with each and every one of you, on a case-by-case basis.”
Owner Dom Bridges will be temporarily closing Haeckels treatments in Margate until end of March.
Both Margate and London stores will remain open.
he said: “Our therapists are our heroes so please don’t worry they will be coming to work at the lab with everyone else – and in the event of a school closure we will provide a crèche scenario and temporary learning facilities for older kids (but will be all ocean related)
“In these times, it is important that we look out for one another. Perhaps it’s time to check in on your neighbour, and see if there’s anything they need. Offer your toilet roll to those who truly need it. We will be offering free refills of our liquid hand soap to anybody who needs it in our London shop – no purchase necessary, and it can be in any container.”
Any questions / email@example.com
Delivery of any parcels which cannot be posted through a letterbox, or items that require a signature.
Parcels will be left on the doorstep and postmen/women will step back two metres When the customer comes to the door the postie witness the customer taking the parcel inside rather than asking for a signature.
“Signed” for parcels and letters will be scanned as delivered and the customer will be asked for their name.
The changes are effective immediately, until further notice.
Baby Sensory Thanet
The child care business statement says: “The health and safety of our babies and their caregivers has always been our paramount concern at Baby Sensory and so, with that in mind, we have made the difficult decision to suspend our classes.
“We will extend the current term to ensure you all receive your full 10 weeks and pending any government advice to be released this week, we are hoping to arrange some “wrap up warm” activities outside so that you don’t miss us too much….please follow our Facebook page for any announcements and further information.
“We hope you understand our reasons for taking such necessary action, if you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact us.”
Broadstairs Town Shed
A statement issued today (March 14) says: “Due to concerns over the spread of Coronavirus, we have taken the difficult decision to temporarily close the Shed. We will keep you all posted: if you are a shedder we will be in touch via email or your preferred method of contact, and if we have a job ongoing for you we will be in touch to discuss this with you. For any other enquiries please contact firstname.lastname@example.org “
Broadstairs Easter Food Festival
The Broadstairs Easter Food Festival scheduled for April has been cancelled due to the coronavirus spread.
The festival was due to take place between April 11-13 but has now been cancelled.
Festival director Jo Scott said: “The festival board regrets the announcement of its decision to cancel the 2020 Easter Food Festival.
“We must stress this is not a decision that has been taken lightly. However being a food and drink festival that attracts large numbers of people where the public is invited to sample produce, it’s critical not to create an environment that could exacerbate the current Coronavirus situation.
“Whilst the government has not yet requested the cancellation of events, advisements suggest they are likely to do so prior to Easter.
“With the continued progress of the coronavirus, we feel it would not be responsible to host the event this Spring and it is better to take the decision now rather than cancel at short notice.
“Although many people have been eagerly anticipating the Easter festival, and a great deal of work has gone into its preparation, the safety and wellbeing of our visitors, volunteers and traders alike, must be uppermost in our plans.
“We will channel our energies into making the Autumn Food Festival bigger, better and brighter than ever – so do mark your diaries for October 2-4.”
The Broadstairs Dickens Fellowship
The Committee of the Dickens Fellowship here in Broadstairs has decided to postpone all membership meetings and events for the next few months. This will take immediate effect, so there will be no meetings until further notice. This will also affect the Annual Dinner on May 13 and Tony’s Tour on May 20. If you have paid to be part of either of these events, the Treasurer will be contacting you with a refund.
Tatum Memorial Quiz
the quiz, due to take place on April 25 to raise funds for Pilgrims Hospice, has been postponed. Organiser peter Bishop said: “It is with a massive regret that i am having to postpone this years annual Tatum Memorial quiz due to the current coronavirus happening right now.
“The idea is to make as much money as possible for the Pilgrims Hospice and I feel that the attendance would not be as may as we normally have so feel it is the best interest of all that we postpone it until later in the year when the current situation has passed. I will announce a new date as soon as we feel it is right.”
Organisers of the POW! Festival have cancelled two of the largest events this weekend.
Mind and Body Day, a day exploring physical and mental wellbeing with talks, conversations, masterclasses, and performances, scheduled to take place at Dreamland today (March 14) and The Cocoa Butter Club due to run at Cliftonville’s Lido Cliff Bar this evening will no longer take place. The events will be rescheduled.
In a statement POW! bosses said: “Safety is of the greatest importance to us at POW! Thanet and we have been monitoring the coronavirus (Covid-19) situation very closely. We have decided to postpone our two biggest events this weekend, Mind Body Day and Cocoa Butter Club. All other events are going ahead.
“Despite the fact that Public Health England have advised that there are currently no restrictions on mass gatherings or community events, due to the nature of the night club environment at Cocoa Butter Club we believe it’s not responsible to go ahead with this event at this time. We are looking at late summer to reschedule.
“As regards Mind and Body day, many speakers were unable to make it due to health and travel concerns so we felt that it would be difficult to provide value for money for the ticket price. A new date will be released for this asap.
“We are extremely grateful to our POW! Thanet family, venues, performers, volunteers and production teams for working with us and we hope you can understand our decision. All tickets will be valid for the new dates and refunds are available if you so wish via Brown Paper Tickets.”
Tesco community room
Tesco at Westwood has taken the decision to close their community room. As a result the Ageless Thanet Club on Mondays is cancelled until further notice.
It is understood Bradstowe Lodge nursing home on Broadstairs seafront is restricting visits to residents from Wednesday until further notice.
Monkton Nature Reserve
The reserve has temporarily closed to visitors due to concerns about safeguarding staff and the public while the virus is still a threat.
Heavy Disco Fundraiser in aid of Ramsgate Crisis Cafe
Due to the current circumstances, Margate Arts Club owner Pompom Vandenberg has issued the following statement: “We will unfortunately have to close our doors till at least end of April. We believe the health of our community is more important than anything else.”
Full refunds for the event which was due to take place on March 21 are available via Skiddle or alternatively, if you wish to donate your ticket money to the East Kent Mind Crisis Cafe project, leave it in the Skiddle account it will be collected and donated after March 30.
Broadstairs and St Peters Town Council
The Broadstairs and St Peters Town Council meeting for March 16 has been cancelled as a precautionary measure.
A statement on social media says: “Due to the ongoing uncertainty with the Covid19 virus, the Town Council has made the decision to cancel the March 16 Town Assembly. All reports will now be posted on the website and members of the community are asked to email the Town Council if they wish to raise any questions.”
Limes Medical Centre
The Limes Medical Centre in Margate is using telephone consultations by clinical staff to triage patients then bring in those that need to have a face to face appointment, the same as other GP practices in the county and following Commissioner and PHE advice.
Prescriptions are able to be electronically sent to a pharmacy of the patients choice.
Assistant Practice Manager Errol White said: “We are encouraging patients not to attend the surgery to support the vulnerable patients we continue to see and safeguard services moving forward. There is no reduction in appointments or clinical support.
“Please can patients ring the surgery for more information. We have put extra reception staff on the phone lines to support this. We request our patients follow Government advice at this time and thank them for their co-operation.”
MP Sir Roger Gale
The North Thanet MP has suspended face to face surgeries but will continue with case work and contact constituents by phone. He said: “For the duration of the Coronavirus pandemic I and my team will continue to operate as normally as possible within the issued guidelines.
“While it is clearly necessary, in the interests of public health, to minimise exposure to possible infection and therefore to suspend public access to our Thanet offices we shall continue to process all constituency casework as usual and regular “advice surgeries” will be conducted by telephone – please call 01843-848588 for an appointment.
“I shall endeavour to attend to my normal duties in The House of Commons, where I am at present chairing The Environment Bill through its Committee stage. While the situation that our country, and indeed the world, faces is serious and warrants sensible precaution it is also necessary to maintain a sense of proportion. We can and will see our way through this difficulty, as we have had to endure other challenges, by working together and supporting and caring for each other.”
Ramsgate Care Centre
Ramsgate Care Centre residential home in Boundary Road shut to visitors on Tuesday (March 10) as a precaution due to a suspected case within a one mile radius. The centre has 41 elderly residents.
Owners Select Healthcare Group’s operation director Brett Bernard said: “We would like assure relatives and stakeholders we have no suspected cases of COVID-19 within the home and this measure has been taken for prevention and to protect the vulnerable adults in our care. Additional measures have also been put in to place within the home.
“Posters, increased infection control and restrictive visiting is already in place. We are assessing the situation daily and will makes appropriate changes when needed.”
Kent School of English
Kent School of English is no longer accepting students until at least the end of the month.
Principal Andy Flaig said: “Due to the escalating coronavirus situation, we have agreed with our partner schools and agents that, as of this weekend, KSE will not be accepting any students until March 29 at the earliest. We understand this will affect a lot of people locally – staff, suppliers, hosts, voucher-takers and others – but this decision has been made with the local community’s best interests in mind.
“We will be keeping the situation under review and will act according to the advice we receive.”
The halt in language school business is already having an impact on the supply chain in Thanet such as host families, takeaways in Broadstairs and coach companies.
Birchington Vale caravan park underwent a deep clean on March 12 following confirmation from Public Health England that a customer at the club house on March 7 has since tested positive for coronavirus (Covid-19).
Caravan owners received a message from site owner Park Holidays to advise them of the situation.
The message said: “We have been advised by Public Health England that a person who attended an event at Birchington Vale clubhouse on Saturday, March 7 has tested positive for coronavirus COVID-19,
“We are therefore contacting everyone who may have been in the vicinity of this person to advise them of the situation and provide advice as recommended by Public Health England.
“We have been given assurances by PHE that the individual has taken the necessary precautions and that the likelihood of anyone else attending the event on March 7 contracting the virus is extremely low. They have advised that prolonged close vicinity contact of at least 15 minutes would be required before any serious risk of infection.”
Park Holidays say PHE is satisfied with the hygiene steps taken but an additional deep clean is being carried out anyway.
St Lawrence College
Results of a test are due for a staff member from St Lawrence College in Ramsgate who went into isolation. The teacher recently returned from an organised Latin trip to the south of Italy.
Broadstairs English Centre
At Broadstairs English Centre language school there have been student cancellations and staff are currently working reduced hours due to the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19).
The centre, which has 10 dormitories at its St Peters Park Road base, says the immediate effects of the outbreak are ‘undeniable’ but directors are putting in short and long term plans to protect staff jobs, homestay providers and contractors.
BEC says some Spring bookings have been moved back but has iterated that there is no ‘notion of collapse’ and the school expects to continue flourishing during the second half of year. Bosses say where appropriate, staff will be offered the chance to take up annual leave. It is understood BEC is closing to students until mid-April.
Chatham & Clarendon
In a message to parents the school said a parent of one of the students has been diagnosed with the virus. The student will self-isolate for 14 days. A member of staff who also had contact with the affected person has taken the same measures.
The children’s outpatient department at QEQM Hospital in Margate was also closed on March 4 after a patient -understood to be a child – presented with the possibility of the Covid-19 (coronavirus) virus.
Suspected cases of novel coronavirus investigated by the East Kent Hospitals Trust with admissions understood to include one initially at QEQM Hospital in Margate were revealed by The Isle of Thanet News on February 9.
Precautions but open for business
Bay Tree Hotel, Broadstairs
The hotel has installed anti bacterial gel at the entrances along with wipes and anti bacterial wipes for guests to use plus more rigorous policies around cleaning.
The owners said: “In addition to our normal cleaning schedule we have introduced some additional procedures, and these will stay in place into the coronavirus threat is over
- Hand wipes and anti-bacterial gel is provided at the entrance lobby at the front door
- All door knobs, handles and locks in the public area are cleaned three times a day with anti-bacterial
cleaner. Similarly, with the stair rails. Guest room door furniture is cleaned once a day.
- In the en suite bathrooms, taps, showers and washbasins are cleaned with anti-bacterial cleaner each
- Service staff’s training on hand washing has been re-enforced and no food or drink will be served to
guests without staff thoroughly washing their hands first.
The Brit Inn Margate
The Brit Inn in Margate has ditched beer runners and staff will be cleaning the bar surfaces with sanitising agents every half hour or sooner if required. Hand sanitiser will be on bar at all times.
Cleaning precautions as part of the normal hygiene routine are taking place at venues across the isle such as Proper Coffee in Margate, The Little Ships, The Four Candles pub, Palace cinema, Little Brown Fairy Cake Westgate, Gadds Food and Drink and a host of other traders who all need our business.
Ramsgate mayor and restaurant owner Raushan Ara said adequate financial support for small businesses is vital. She said: “Covid-19 has already been declared by the World Health Organisation (WHO) a pandemic, and cases are increasingly daily in the UK. We have been warned that this crisis may continue, for another three months minimum.
“During this difficult time, it is crucial that small businesses and the self-employed, many of whom are in the hospitality industry, or service providers, are given adequate financial support. The cost of just keeping a business open, with a severe drop in takings, could lead to many businesses going bankrupt.
“If the UK is to avoid a recession, the small businesses, which are the country’s backbone, must survive. Ramsgate town is suffering from a collapse in customers and income. Due to the closures of town centres everywhere, this has placed even more pressure on our vulnerable economy.
“Although the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, mentioned small business rates, there was nothing mentioned for self-employed workers, mortgage relief, or help with the shortfall, in order to pay staff wages. If businesses cannot pay wages, layoffs will have to occur, and this will have a disastrous domino effect on the wider economy.
“What the government needs to do is to make sure that banks take measures to give relief to businesses and self-employed workers during this crisis. The government also needs to give tangible financial support to tide businesses over.
“If you are being affected by these issues, then lobby your MP to speak up on the matter. I do hope that our local MP will raise this in parliament. I wish everyone good health, and please remember, if we all look out for each other, by washing our hands, and following the guidelines, we can slow the spread of the virus.”
South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay
“We’ll be reading, hearing about and watching vast output surrounding Coronavirus. This is going to be tough. Last week’s Budget put the national response front and centre with £30 Billion of help aimed at employees and businesses who are beginning to feel the effects of behavioural change and the illness itself.
“Across East Kent we have an older demographic and a higher than average reliance on the hospitality sector: I am already receiving emails from businesses and constituents concerned for themselves, family and friends. I will not delve into the science, that is for the experts but the government’s plan of suppressing a peak of infection into a smoother and longer curve to better match resources against demand makes every sense to me. Of course, sadly but predictably, some will want to use any opportunity for political gain.
“This is a time when communities will need to work together to make sure that the vulnerable and those in isolation get the support they need with essentials such as prescriptions and shopping. There will be a lot of new ad hoc networks of support being created and I will be devoting my office to assisting in this work with the local authority, the NHS and emergency services. This will not be easy, swift or pleasant but we will come through it together.”
- Andys Airport Cars: We have had booking after booking cancel in the last 48 hours it has had a devastating effect on our trade. God knows whats going to happen next and I feel this is just the start of it
Edward Temple: Lots of small shops /restaurants /pubs and supply chains are going to be hit.. take my job as a fisherman..if people don’t eat out then no demand and low prices or no prices at all… lets hope this is not as bad as the hype… or else a lot of people could be bankrupt
- Christopher Gadd: We have been hit with supply issues already, and customers not spending. At the moment people would rather panic buy at supermarkets, it seems with certain items, price is no issue. Business won`t last long if this is a long term effect
- Damarall Werrey-Easterbrook: I’m a dog groomer and my son is off school, which has meant I’ve had to cancel a week of work. If they close schools my business will suffer even more.
- Diane Quartey; My hubby does the entertainment for the foreign language schools, no students =no work, lots of cancellations, as self employed not much help out there,
- Amy Hogan; I work in the motor trade. No one wants to buy a car or have cars services or repair work done because they don’t want contact with people. It’s such uncertain times for everyone.
- Alison Harper: I have a bridal shop in Westgate. Weddings abroad are being rescheduled. Alterations will be done nearer to the date. Brides that have bought dresses from china are now buying local. Its not stopping the general public popping in to have their trousers etc altered though.
- Denise Hill: Unfortunately yes – cancellations at Langmead Guest House
- Jennifer Maidman: Musicians are being hit very hard. We’re almost all self employed and everything is being cancelled. Contrary to what the government implies, there is really no safety net for the self employed, only once you’re close to destitute!
- Caroline Fasham: Not yet but I am a dog sitter/groomer/walker and am expecting some jobs to cancel.
- Ed Warren: It’s a nightmare!
- Lucy Cook: A slight dip in sales but nothing major – we’re still going strong tbh ? keep calm and drink Proper Coffee
- The Isle of Thanet News: As a small business we have been hit by coronavirus due to event cancellations = advert cancellations.
Current government advice
- if you have symptoms of coronavirus infection (COVID-19), however mild, do not leave your home for 7 days from when your symptoms started (see ending isolation section for more information)
- this action will help protect others in your community while you are infectious
- plan ahead and ask others for help to ensure you can successfully stay at home
- ask your employer, friends and family to help you to get the things you need to stay at home
- stay at least 2 metres (about 3 steps) away from other people in your home whenever possible
- sleep alone, if possible
- wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds, each time using soap and water
- stay away from vulnerable individuals, such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, as much as possible
- you do not need to call NHS 111 to go into self-isolation. If your symptoms worsen during home isolation or are no better after 7 days, contact NHS 111 online. If you have no internet access, call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999