Councillor Julian Bell, leader of Ealing Council - statement on coronavirus

My sympathies are with those who have already been affected and with anyone who has lost or will lose loved ones.

The council is working closely with government, our local partners, like voluntary groups and the NHS, and with business groups on our response to this fast-moving situation.

Ealing CVS is offering advice and signposting for the local community and other voluntary groups. 

I would like to reassure you that crucial council services are working normally and our priority remains to care for our elderly and vulnerable residents. We have robust contingency plans in place to ensure that we can continue to deliver these vital services over the coming months.

Ealing Council has also announced temporary closure of most of the borough’s libraries and the cancellation of council meetings as part of measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Unfortunately, we cannot stop the virus from spreading, but for most people this is a mild illness. For older people or those with pre-existing conditions it can be serious.  We can all play our part in delaying the spread and limiting the impact on the elderly and other vulnerable groups by following the chief medical officer's advice on travel, social distancing and self-isolating.

Please don’t believe everything that you read online and on social media. Instead, I ask you to check trusted sources including the council and central government to make sure you have the latest information.

This will be a testing time, but Ealing’s community is our greatest strength. I have seen local people quickly and instinctively come together in recent days to support those who may need help. This community spirit will be invaluable in the weeks ahead and I ask everyone to reach out to any vulnerable or elderly neighbours, including single parents and those that live alone.

Do your bit to help flatten the curve

Please follow and share the following advice to play your part in delaying the spread of COVID-19 and protecting those who may be more vulnerable in our community:

  • Help keep yourself and others safe by washing hands regularly with soap and water for at least twenty seconds or use hand sanitiser.
  • If you have a new, continuous cough or a high temperature (37.8 degrees and above) you must stay indoors for seven days if you live alone. If you live with others and one of you develops symptoms, the whole household must stay indoors for 14 days. These restrictions apply from the start of the symptoms. Please follow the guidance on self isolation and do not contact your GP.
  • If you can help by delivering shopping or other items for someone who is self-isolating, leave them on their doorstep, do not go into their home.
  • It is a sad truth that in difficult times fraudsters will take advantage. Do not give personal information to, or open the door to, people who you do not know.
  • Be considerate in the way you shop and do not buy more than you need so that others are not left without. Our local food banks are well supported by the community but may need more help, so please continue to donate at supermarkets.
     
  • Residents who are interested in providing support to the local community can register for the British Red Cross Community Reserve scheme. No specialist skills are required however volunteers must be over 18. If required, volunteers would only be asked to respond in their local communities.
  • If you are concerned about the welfare of an elderly or vulnerable person you can contact the council on 0208 8825 7170.This line is staffed during office hours and will not provide health advice.  
  • Please check online updates from trusted sources including the council and central government to make sure you have the latest information.
     
  • If you're self-isolating, you must not put any personal waste into outside bins for 72 hours as part of measures to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. You must place used cleaning materials in a plastic rubbish bag and tie it, before placing it in a second tied bin bag, and disposing of normally after 72 hours.

Help is available

If you are experiencing hardship please do visit our website for:

  • Local Welfare Assistance – if you are struggling to buy food you can get food vouchers and money for essential household items.
  • Discretionary Housing Payments – may be available to top-up housing-related benefit for a limited time to cover housing costs such as rent.
  • Council Tax – if you are experiencing exceptional hardship you may be able to claim a discretionary reduction in Council Tax.

 

Local business

I know that Ealing residents will be stepping up to support the efforts both to contain the spread of coronavirus and to support vulnerable local residents. Ealing Council will be doing likewise alongside you.  But I urge you to support local businesses and those they employ.  While the government has identified support, our high streets will still struggle and could face financial calamity as a result of this crisis.  So do support your high street and those that work in our shops.

We also urgently need the national government to step up and support individuals who are doing the right thing by boosting financial support for those who are sick, self-isolating or in financial difficulty.

Advice for businesses can be found on the government’s website.

Council offices/schools

Ealing Council has also announced temporary closure of most of the borough’s libraries and the cancellation of council meetings as part of measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

To help with the government’s social distancing strategy, all but one of Ealing’s libraries are set to temporarily close from Thursday 19 March. To ensure some access to vital services is maintained, Ealing Central Library will remain open, with extra cleaners allocated to keep it as clean as possible. The number of public access computers at the library will be reduced in order to ensure users are kept a reasonable distance apart.  

The government has announced that from Friday (20 March 2020) UK schools will close until further notice as part of ongoing measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus. There will be spaces made available for the children of key workers and vulnerable children to remain in school.

We are awaiting further information from the government about who falls into this category and how schools will adapt to support this.