Thanet, along with the rest of the country, will now be bracing itself for the economic and social impact following a public briefing by Prime Minister Boris Johnson where he has advised people to avoid all ‘unnecessary’ social contact.
In the conference today the PM said the advice was for people to work from home if possible, avoid pubs, clubs, and theatres and for any person with symptoms the entire household should self isolate for 14 days.
Talking of pubs and other social venues he said: “What we are doing is giving very strong advice that public venues such as theatres should no longer be visited.
“The proprietors of those venues are taking the logical steps that you would imagine, you are seeing the change happen already.
“As for enforcement, we have the powers if necessary but I don’t believe it will be necessary to use those powers.”
The conference also said those over 70, people with significant health conditions and pregnant women should also begin self isolating in a matter of days -by the weekend – for a 12 week period to ‘shield’ them from the virus.
He said anyone in the same house as someone who has a cough or fever would have to isolate for 14 days.
Non essential travel should not be undertaken and mass gatherings would no longer be supported. Schools will not be shut down at this time.
The PM said the measures were ‘draconian’ but added: “We are asking people to do something difficult and disruptive to their lives,” in a bid to reduce spread of the coronavirus and ease pressure on health services.
Covid-19 testing is to be ‘scaled up’ as the government predicts the health crisis will last weeks or months.
The PM said the measures are part of the “fight back” against the disease. Admitting the economy will take a hit he said he expected it to ‘bounce back.’
Daily PM briefings will now take place.
How will residents and businesses cope?
Kent County Councillors Barry Lewis (Margate ) and Karen Constantine (Ramsgate) say they are concerned about how many Thanet residents will manage during the next weeks and months in the wake of the Government’s latest advice on Coronavirus.
Cllr Barry Lewis is calling for a suspension of council tax for all households so that the ‘saving’ can be used for other household essentials. He said: “The reality is it will take quite a long time for any money, benefits etc to be paid to people. This is something the county council can do quickly which will really help people”.
Cllr Karen Constantine is calling for KCC to establish a hardship fund, funded from KCC reserves, so that those on zero hour contracts can continue to pay for accommodation and meet food and other essential costs. She’d like to see the fund available to any resident suffering hardship as a result of the Government’s measures. She said: “It’s now extremely important to get genuine robust support into place as quickly as possible. If national Government can’t or won’t do it, KCC should”.
Cllrs Lewis and Constantine are urging Kent County Council to be bold, to act urgently and to focus on those communities that are already struggling.
Care providers in Kent and Medway
The Kent Integrated Care Alliance (KiCA) is supporting the government and working with the care sector to ensure vulnerable adults in the community can be supported by care and support workers.
Ann Taylor, Chair of KiCA, said: “We are all aware that the spread of the coronavirus will affect everyone of us in some way over the coming months. Both staff and people using health and social care services need to be aware that current levels of care and support will be greatly reduced as we move into the peak of this pandemic.
“Whether in a care home, or in the community, there is no doubt our current lifestyles will be greatly compromised for some time to come. We want to reassure you that care providers in Kent and Medway are coming together to maintain and support the most vulnerable people in our county.
“The Alliance is pooling resources and staff to ensure the effective use of our social care workforce, and that that we can achieve the biggest impact during these difficult times. We are appealing and putting out a ‘call to arms’ for volunteers and people who have previously worked in the health and social care sector to make contact with their local care providers to offer their services.
“As you can imagine care providers are facing huge pressures to maintain the current provision of community based care as well as trying to support the local health economy by ensuring clinical beds are free for those who are seriously ill. We invite anyone who is currently not working due to the disruption, but fit and well, to approach their local care providers to offer short-term contract support until the country returns to normality.
“The county’s social care sector is also particularly keen to here from individuals who may have transferable skills from other sectors such as; hospitality, hair and beauty, retail, and childcare. If you would like to help, please contact local care providers in your area or contact KiCA directly on the following email firstname.lastname@example.org where signposting assistance will be provided.”
As of 9am on 16 March 2020, 44,105 people have been tested in the UK, of which 42,562 were confirmed negative and 1,543 were confirmed as positive.
55 people are confirmed to have died from the disease. In Kent 12 people are confirmed to have 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.