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Local control plan Q&A

Published Thursday 10 December, 2020
Last updated on Thursday 10 December, 2020

The Kent and Medway Health and Wellbeing Board met on Tuesday 8 December, and discussed the Covid-19 Local Outbreak Control Plan.

To read the report on the plan, visit the the Medway Council website.

Questions from the public were submitted via forms on the Kent County Council and Medway Council website, and the board agreed these, and the answers, would be shared on the websites of the organisations represented on the board.

The questions from the public were clustered around 5 themes:

  1. Fines:

Q: Should Bailiff threats and visits - especially those involving clinically vulnerable individuals - be suspended during the crisis period? (Medway)

A: All enforcement agency action and all recovery action were suspended during the first and second lockdown; Direct Debits were continued to be collected, however, and agencies have only communicated with individuals(electronically) who were already working on their repayments prior to lock-down. There has been no court action during this time, and none are currently planned.

Q: Will vulnerable parents be fined if they can’t send their children into school and can’t find anyone else to do it on their behalf? (Medway)

A: Policies relating to school attendance and direct liaison are matters for individual headteachers to handle. There is national guidance and support available for anyone who is clinically extremely vulnerable.

2. Data:

Q: Should the total/ rolling numbers of KCC/MC pupils and school staff members who have contracted COVID-19 be publicly available information?

A: The publication of any data on outbreaks or incidents in a school setting follows the current national guidance. Any data that could be potentially identifying – including totals or rolling numbers of KCC/MC pupils and school staff members who have come down with the virus – would violate data protection legislation and would therefore not ever be made publicly available.

Q: Does the infection rate published for Medway include hospital patients who actually come from other areas? If it does, how will it affect any further re-strictions/ virus control methods placed on Medway residents? (Medway)

A: Rates of infection that are published online and reported nationally only reflect cases amongst those who are registered as living in Medway. Non-Medway residents who are in hospital for COVID-19 would not have their data entered into this reporting and would not impact Tier Classification or other virus control methods.

3. Day Centres:

Q: Should day centres for the elderly still be open? Why can’t care be provided at home rather than up to 15 people mixing at once? (Medway)

A: When the first lockdown occurred, all day care/support providers were required to close their buildings in accordance to guidance at that time. The loss of, or reduction in, these services during the COVID-19 crisis proved to be hugely challenging for those who used them and their families and carers, often resulting in significant mental and physical decline amongst all mentioned. As such, we enacted the guidance and exceptions rule within Public Health England regulations to keep these services open in the second lockdown with significant restrictions in place. Only those who have the greatest need of these services are provided with access to them, for example, and regular quality and assurance visits are undertaken by Council staff to ensure those services that are open comply with government guidance.

4. Essential shops:

Q: Why are you allowing shops such as B and M to open? They are not essential shops and are encouraging people to mix in these types of stores when there is no need. To control the spread, opening of shops should be limited to food shops and shops selling essential repair items. It doesn’t matter how many plans you come up with until you stop people going out for non-essential items and journeys the virus will continue to spread. (Medway)

A: Both Medway and Kent County Council adheres strictly to government guidelines as to which types of premises are permitted to open during lock-down. Both Councils ensure that all retailers comply with the relevant regulations and has the power to close those that do not under the Coronavirus Act (2020). If any resident feels that a particular shop is failing in its duties to protect its customers or is open inappropriately through lockdown, they should refer to Police.UK’s online reporting tool. This ‘Tell Us About’ page asks the public to provide the address where they believe a breach of COVID-19 measures is - or has been - happening.

5. School closure:

Q1: With the increase in cases throughout Medway - especially amongst school-aged children – isn’t it time schools closed? Many local schools are closing for 2 weeks. (Medway)

Q2: Why are the schools and colleges still open with such high transfer of this virus? It’s obvious that students are bringing home the virus into households and risking lives of families and wearing masks in classrooms are still not mandatory. (Medway)

Q3: Why are the schools and colleges still open with such high transfer of this virus? It’s obvious that students are bringing home the virus into households and risking lives of families and wearing masks in classrooms are still not mandatory. (Medway)

Q4: Will school closures be considered from the 2nd of December onwards?

Q5: Why don’t all schools close and why don’t you set up proper online learning for the school children? (Medway)

Q6: Can schools be closed? Outbreaks are disproportionately affecting teach-ing and adult staff in schools and it is no longer safe for children to attend. A two/three-week complete closure of all schools will surely help clear the spread at schools and onwards into the community. (Medway)

Q7: As infection rates in schools are rising, do you plan to close schools to provide a ‘fire break’? (Medway)

A: In accordance with national guidelines, schools will continue to stay open even as Kent and Medway enter into Tier 3. In any instance where a case or outbreak occurs, the school in question is risk assessed and appropriate action is taken to safeguard all individuals involved with consideration of the community at large. The decision to close an affected school is at the discretion of the Headteacher. In accordance with Department for Education guidelines, Headteachers are also tasked with resourcing appropriate online learning portals and platforms for their remote students. The Council acts to provide advice and guidance to schools as required and requested.

For more information about the Kent and Medway Health and Wellbeing Board, visit the Medway Council website.