Updates on COVID testing, resources and guidance

Updates from Blackburn BID on testing, resources available and Government guidance

Free rapid tests for all businesses for regular workplace testing

  • As part of the government’s roadmap to cautiously lift restrictions, businesses of all sizes, including those with fewer than 50 employees, can register from today to order free lateral flow tests for their employees
  • Around 1 in 3 people with coronavirus don’t have symptoms, which means they could be spreading the virus in workplaces without knowing. Rapid testing detects cases quickly – in under 30 minutes – meaning positive cases can isolate immediately, breaking chains of transmission.  Regular testing could be the difference between a workplace being able to stay open and operational, or needing to close due to a COVID-19 outbreak. It will form a crucial part of the government’s plan to gradually and safely ease restrictions as we get back to a more normal life.  So far over 3,500 businesses are signed up to offer workplace testing programmes, and over 14,000 have registered their interest in offering rapid testing, with many already rolling tests out.  Businesses have until 31 March to register for the government’s workplace testing scheme, which will remain free until the end of June. All those who can work from home should continue to do so.  
  • You can register here: https://www.gov.uk/get-workplace-coronavirus-tests
  • All local authorities in England are now offering rapid lateral flow testing for small businesses if they can’t offer rapid workplace testing. Businesses can find their local test site here: https://www.gov.uk/find-covid-19-lateral-flow-test-site

Covid-19 Workplace Resource Pack for Workplaces

An information pack is available to help businesses that have Covid-19 cases in the workplace.  The Covid-19 Workplace Resource Pack for Workplaces is available on Blackburn with Darwen Council’s website with all information on how to manage cases, report to the correct bodies and also manage contacts and staff who may be affected. The pack with the guidance and all information can be found here:

https://www.lancashire.gov.uk/business/covid-19-resource-pack-for-workplaces/

Professor Dominic Harrison’s latest Coronavirus briefing

Director of Public Health and Wellbeing, Professor Dominic Harrison’s latest Coronavirus briefing includes details of a report into why Blackburn with Darwen’s risks of Coronavirus have remained high through the course of the pandemic:

“An as yet unpublished national report on ‘enduring transmission’ in areas of high cumulative case rates looked at Blackburn with Darwen, Leicester and Bradford to see why their risks of COVID19 have remained so high over the pandemic. The findings indicate higher risks are related to; higher than average deprivation levels, higher percentages of multi-generational households with a higher number of household members, often resident in smaller housing stock, higher percentages of employees in front line employment who have been unable to work from home or furlough during Lockdowns or restrictions; higher percentages of residents unable to self-isolate when Covid-positive for financial reasons, and a significantly worse local performance of the national Test and Trace system.  The risk of those testing positive being unable to self-isolate is amongst the most significant for continued transmission and is mostly driven by economic insecurity. SAGE evidence suggests that only 15-30% of people fully comply with self-isolation rules. There is a self-isolation payment of £500, but it is too low to support a larger family and two thirds of applicants are rejected when they apply, due to the very high eligibility threshold.  For Lancashire, all of these risks have remained largely unchanged since last summer, when higher rising rates appeared in July after the first lockdown. These higher rates generated localised control measures across Lancashire from August 2020.”  You can find the full briefing here:https://theshuttle.org.uk/coronavirus-column-05-mar/

Updated National Lockdown Guidance

The Government has updated the National Lockdown guidance overnight to set out what you can do from today, 8 March.  You can find it here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-lockdown-stay-at-home

It includes:

  • Legally permitted reasons to leave home now include to exercise, or for outdoor recreation in a public outdoor space.  You can leave your home to exercise or to visit a public outdoor place for outdoor recreation, such as a coffee on a bench or a picnic in a park. This can be on your own, with one other person when in a public outdoor place, or with your household or support bubble. You should minimise the time you spend outside your home, and you should not travel outside your local area. Stay 2 metres apart from anyone not in your household or support bubble and follow the guidance on how to stop the spread of coronavirus at all times.
  • Personal training can continue if participants are from the same household or support bubble. It can also continue if it is one-on-one and those training remain 2 metres apart. Personal training should only take place in a public outdoor place, and not in someone’s private home or garden.
  • Public outdoor places include the following, if they are in your local area:
    • parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, forests
    • public and botanical gardens (whether or not you pay to enter them)
    • the grounds of a heritage site
    • outdoor sculpture parks
    • allotments
    • public playgrounds
  • Outdoor sports venues must remain closed.  Organised outdoor sport for disabled people is allowed to continue.
  • Indoor gyms and sports facilities will remain closed.  
  • All pupils and students should attend face-to-face education in primary schools, secondary schools and further education settings such as colleges. Secondary pupils, further education college students and staff will be offered regular testing from 8 March.  University students undertaking practical or practice-based courses who require specialist equipment and facilities can attend face-to-face teaching and learning with regular testing now in place. All other students should continue to learn remotely.
  • You can also leave home to access or attend registered childcare and supervised activities for children but only where it is necessary to allow parents or carers to work, seek work, undertake education or training, attend a medical appointment or attend a support group.
  • Visits to care homes should be enabled to take place, in line with the guidance, wherever it is safe to do so.
  • Each resident should be asked to nominate a “single named visitor” who can make indoor visits regularly. These visitors will need to take a rapid lateral flow test provided by the care home, and receive a negative result before each visit. Physical contact should be kept to a minimum.
  • You still must not leave or be outside of your home except where you have a ‘reasonable excuse’. This is the law. The police can take action against you if you leave home without a ‘reasonable excuse’, and issue you with a fine (Fixed Penalty Notice).  You can be given a Fixed Penalty Notice of £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400. You can be fined £800 if you attend a private gathering such as a house party of over 15 people from outside your household, which will double for each repeat offence to a maximum level of £6,400. If you hold, or are involved in holding, an illegal gathering of over 30 people, the police can issue fines of £10,000.

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