Last updated: 27 May 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19)


Overview

Our Public Health team is working closely with Public Health England (PHE), which is leading the national COVID-19 response.

Situation in the UK

The Government has enforced measures, asking people to stay alert. This means you must:

  • Stay at home as much as possible;
  • Work from home if you can;
  • Limit contact with others;
  • Keep your distance if you go out and stay two metres apart from others;
  • Wash your hands regularly.

See the GOV.UK website for the latest information on the outbreak:

Find the latest UK Government information (GOV.UK) (external link)

The Government has also produced a data tracker for coronavirus cases in the UK:

COVID-19: Data tracker (GOV.UK) (external link)

Updates from your local district or borough council

For the latest updates on local services run by your district or borough council, please visit the relevant website:

Find my local district or borough council

Status of our services

Communities

Communities

Ceremonies

Marriages and Civil Partnerships

The current Government advice remains that all weddings, civil partnership formations and appointments to give notice are currently unable to take place. Although there has been speculation the Government is thinking of enabling small legal ceremonies after Monday 1 June, there has been no further clarification on what this might look like.

We have therefore decided to plan to allow weddings and notice appointments from Monday 15 June, hoping that we will have clarity and these will be able to go ahead. This is dependent on Government guidance and cannot be guaranteed at this stage.

West Sussex County Council ceremony rooms will, during the initial reintroduction period following Monday 15 June, only be able to accommodate the legal minimum number of persons for statutory ceremonies, in order to keep everyone safe. This means the couple, their two witnesses and the two registrars.

Licensed venues may be able to accommodate more depending on Government advice, which might vary according to the venue.

If you wish to postpone or cancel your booking please contact us. We do not charge for like-for-like postponements.

New bookings from January 2021 are being taken. However, we will not be able to take any 2020 bookings until we return to our offices and can take safely take notices of intent, and have ensured we prioritise the legalities for currently booked ceremonies.

New Citizens – Citizenship Ceremony    

If you have a letter from the Home Office advising you to attend a Citizenship Ceremony, you have a six-month window to attend from the date on your invitation letter. This has been extended from the standard three months.

Libraries

All West Sussex Libraries are now closed until further notice. However, our teams are working hard to ensure you can still access the service online. 

View our current offer to read books, magazines and newspapers digitally, listen to audiobooks and learn from home. We are also working on filming some of our regular library activities, such as Toddler Rhyme Time, for you to use.

Library FAQs

Registration Services

Registration offices are currently closed in Midhurst, Burgess Hill, East Grinstead, Littlehampton and Storrington.

Registering a death:

All registration appointments will be conducted by telephone with immediate effect. Please book your appointment as normal, but do not attend the Registration Office.  

Whilst we will do our best to contact you during the allotted half hour, this may not be possible, so please bear with us and you will get a call that day. 

If the doctor has already handed you the Medical Cause of Death Certificate, please drop it in to one of the following registration offices, as soon as possible: Crawley, Chichester, Haywards Heath or Worthing. This must be done before the time of your appointment. 

COVID-19: Information for the bereaved (GOV.UK) (external link)

Registering a birth:

Following Government guidance, we are currently unable to offer birth registration appointments. Further updates will be posted on our website.

Parents can now make a claim for child benefit or universal credit, prior to the birth being registered. Until we are able to reinstate birth registration, we understand that you will not be able to register within the normal 42 days. 

Record Office

The West Sussex Record Office is now closed for foreseeable future.

Fire Service

Fire Service

West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service

We have robust plans in place to ensure we can continue to deliver our emergency response.

However, we are reducing some of our non-critical work in the community to help prevent the spread of the virus.

We are also carrying out our free Safe and Well Visits via phone, Skype and by posting a useful resource document, instead of face-to-face visits. Call 0345 8729 719 or email safeandwell@westsussex.gov.uk to book yours.

Be assured: if you dial 999 and need the fire service, we will be there.

Fire safety advice for businesses from West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service

 

Waste

Waste

Household Waste Recycling Sites

Household Waste Recycling Sites (HWRSs) are now open.

Residents are asked to only visit sites if their journey is necessary and their waste is not suitable for kerbside collection.

Currently the sites are accepting just two waste streams; household black bag type waste and green garden waste only. Plans are being drawn up to accept a wider range of materials and more information on this will be published soon.

Visit Waste Prevention West Sussex for for further information and frequently asked questions.  

Vans and pickup trucks can enter sites from Saturday 23 May. Residents will still need to bring a permit for these type of vehicle.

Unfortunately trailers will still not be allowed at this time to allow for social distancing in light of restrictions around COVID-19 and to limit queues.

Recycle for West Sussex website (external link)

Waste and recycling collections

Please look for information and updates by your local district or borough council, as they operate these and will be able to advise of any disruption or changes.

Children's

Children's

Children and Family Centres

We have stopped delivering our normal offer from Children and Family Centres and Youth Centres, until further notice. This includes stopping all groups and events for children, young people and families.

Children’s Social Care

This service is currently running as usual and our staff are working hard to prioritise our vulnerable residents.

Fostering

We continue to welcome enquiries and applications to foster with us, visit our fostering website or call our recruitment team on 0330 22 27775.

For the time being, our monthly information sessions have been suspended.

School admissions

You can contact our school admissions service by emailing admissions.north@westsussex.gov.uk or admissions.south@westsussex.gov.uk.

Adults

Adults

Changes to the Care Act 2014 for adult social care

The government has put in place a range of measures to help local authorities deliver adult social care whilst managing the pressures caused by the current COVID-19 situation.

These are changes to some local authority duties around assessment of people’s needs and their eligibility for council-funded care and support. These measures are known as ‘easements’ and local authorities were able to put these in place from 31 March 2020.

They are temporary and will only be used if they become absolutely necessary. Please find out more with our useful guide, here together with an Easy Read version:

LEAFLET: Easements for adult social care EASY-READ LEAFLET: Easements for adult social care

We are not yet operating the easements. However, if this changes we will let people who use services, family and friend carers, and all providers know.

Any decision would also be reported to the Department of Health and Social Care.

Adults’ Services Day Services

We have suspended all of our day services across West Sussex - including Rowans Gym in Worthing and all groups using space in our buildings.

However, we’re working on delivering a service for families and carers who fall into the keyworker category, and those who’s critical needs can’t be met any other way. 

Talk Locals and Community Drop-ins

These have been suspended for the foreseeable future.

Meals on Wheels

Our deliveries are currently operating as normal and we're accepting new clients. Call 01903 718893 to find out more.

Support for family and friend carers

We're working with Carers Support West Sussex, as well as the voluntary and community sector on increasing support to family and friend carers.

Travel

Travel

Highways

During this time of national crisis there is some work that needs to continue to ensure we keep the county running both now, and as we come out of this period.

That will include some construction particularly on key transport routes and in schools. Where this work continues, we are following Government advice and guidelines closely.

The situation is under constant review and we are ensuring that any contractors working on our behalf are also complying with Government advice and following social distancing guidelines.

Transport

We are working with the transport sector to understand what impact coronavirus (COVID-19) is having and how we may need to respond. Residents wishing to use public transport for essential travel should check with each operator before setting out on their journey.

Social distancing when using transport networks

If it is essential for you to leave your house, please ensure that you maintain social distancing guidelines and adapt your journey where necessary – such as crossing the road to maintain a two-meter distance from others.

If you have a concern about a location where members of public are unable to social distance, please contact us.

However, we currently have limited resource available and would ask that you consider whether practical alternatives could be implemented before raising a request.

Blue badges

Most staff who answer these enquiries and deal with applications are working remotely and unlikely to process correspondence sent by post. Please apply online and email the team.

If you are unable to reapply for a blue badge, or your renewal application is delayed, Penalty Charge Notices will not be issued to residents using their badges with an expiry date of 1 January 2020 onwards.

This relaxation of enforcement against expired blue badges should continue until 30 September 2020. We are unable to confirm if this applies to private car parks or areas outside of West Sussex.

On-street parking

Social care and NHS workers can park free-of-charge in West Sussex County Council on-street spaces during the outbreak.

Please display supporting evidence in your windscreen, such as a photocopy of your work pass (with sensitive information removed), or a letter of evidence from your employer.

Buses

There are significant changes to the bus services currently running across West Sussex. 

Please check with the bus operator for the latest details. 

Statement on bus services

Bus passes

Pensioners and vulnerable people with West Sussex County Council bus passes can now use them earlier on weekdays. This is so they can take advantage of some supermarkets’ first hour of trading being dedicated to older and vulnerable shoppers.

From now, and for the duration of the outbreak, residents can use their passes prior to 9.30am on weekdays. They could already use them at any time on weekends and public holidays. All bus pass holders are urged to please follow Government guidance on social distancing when travelling on public transport.

Environment

Environment

Public Rights of Way

There is no legislation that allows West Sussex County Council to close Public Rights of Ways, in response to COVID-19. People who choose to use local Public Rights of Ways for their daily exercise should follow the Countryside Code and adhere to social distancing guidelines.

If you have Public Right of Way crossing your land, DEFRA has issued advice (below) on providing alternative routes on your land.

COVID-19: A message to Public Right of Way landowners

We have suspended routine inspections and maintenance work and are only taking action on Public Rights of Way where reported issues require work to ensure public safety.

Buchan Country Park

The Visitor Centre and toilets at Buchan Park are closed. The car park remains open during the week, but this is being monitored and if numbers of visitors are deemed too high to enable social distancing, it will be closed.

The car park is closed at weekends and on bank holidays. Local people can access the site via the Public Right of Way network and should adhere to social distancing guidelines.

Recruitment

Recruitment

We’re still recruiting to maintain essential services across West Sussex, including careers in: Adults’ Services, Children’s Services, and our Fire and Rescue Service. Please see our full list of vacancies.

All interviews will be conducted via phone or video. If you have any questions, please contact our Recruitment Team.


Keeping people safe

Social and community care

Wellbeing

Wellbeing

There are numerous resources and top tips available to support you with your wellbeing during the outbreak.

Take a look at the advice on our website:

Staying healthy during COVID-19

The Government has also released guidance for the public, on the mental health and wellbeing aspects of coronavirus: 

COVID-19: guidance on mental health and wellbeing (GOV.UK) (external link)

The West Sussex Wellbeing website also provides a range of information, particularly useful for people in later life who are looking to maintain good physical and mental health during the outbreak: 

Coronavirus and older people (West Sussex Wellbeing) (external link)

Scams and fraud

Scams and fraud

During the pandemic, it is important you remain aware of coronavirus related scams.

Fake emails claiming to be from the Government, shops selling false protective masks, and rogue traders offering coronavirus testing are some of the scams people need to be wary of.

The most common coronavirus related scams are as follows:

  • People offering cures or vaccines for coronavirus;
  • Home cleaning services;
  • People impersonating healthcare workers, claiming to be offer ‘home-testing’ for coronavirus;
  • Emails saying that you can get a refund on taxes and utilities;
  • Fake products available to buy online that say they can protect you or cure coronavirus.

For additional information on how to stay safe online, see below:

Staying safe online (West Sussex County Council)

 


School and education

The County Council is continuing to work closely with West Sussex schools to support a phased return of pupils in a safe and managed way.

Detailed discussions are being held with school and academy representatives to consider the government’s position that schools should begin to reopen from next month.

Further details can be found on our latest press release.

COVID-19: closure of educational settings (GOV.UK) (external link)

Schools transport

Parents whose children are continuing to attend school via public bus should visit the bus operators’ websites to check the times and routes available. Please note:

  • Journeys at school times may have changed to run slightly;
  • Buses that usually divert to a school gate may no longer do so, meaning children may need to walk from the nearest stop;
  • A change of bus may now be necessary rather than there being a direct journey.

Children who travel on council-provided transport

Our suppliers have been asked to operate a full service from now until further notice. Due to possible staff shortages, some flexibility may be needed.

All parents who do not accompany their children are advised to have a contingency plan agreed with their child in case transport is late or does not arrive.

Prevention

General guidance on health protection is available on the Government website.

COVID-19: guidance on health protection in schools and childcare facilities (GOV.UK) (external link)

Public Health England’s School Zone also offers fun e-Bug resources aimed at primary school children, which share information on how to stop germs spreading.


Businesses and employers

The Government is providing up to date COVID-19 guidance for employees, employers, and businesses.

COVID-19: guidance for employers and businesses (GOV.UK) (external link)

Government has also launched a package of measures to support businesses and the self-employed through the impact of COVID-19.

If you're a business, employer or self-employed, visit the Business West Sussex website to access support and information.

COVID-19: Business West Sussex website (external link)

Suppliers

We have introduced measures to support our suppliers and the local economy during this time:

COVID-19: Financial support for suppliers

Providers

If you are struggling to get supplies of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), please make an emergency request: 

Make an emergency PPE request

Resources

There are a variety of COVID-19 resources available for you to download and print, including advice on staying at home, hand washing and information for children:

COVID-19: Public Health England resources (GOV.UK) (external link)

Easy-read resources, specifically related to coronavirus, are also available:

COVID-19: Easy-read resources (keepsafe.org) (external link)

Translated guidance

The UK Government has translated the stay at home guidance into a range of languages.

Newsletter

Sign up to our newsletter and receive regular updates on COVID-19. Here you can also choose to be notified of general news in West Sussex: 

COVID-19: Register for the latest news (GovDelivery) (external link)

Community Hub

We've joined forces with local community groups to help and support vulnerable people during the coronavirus outbreak.

See our community hub to:

  • tell us you, or someone you know, needs help
  • volunteer your services to help us in our response to this virus.
Find out more about the Community hub (COVID-19)

 


COVID-19 testing

Anyone with symptoms that started within the last three days can now ask for a test. Tests are not suitable for children under five.

Tests can be booked at the national drive-through sites. In Sussex, these are Gatwick and Brighton Amex. Those unable to travel can order home test kits. 

For more information, and to book a test, visit the NHS website: (external link)

Essential key workers

Across West Sussex, there are a range of testing options available for:

  • Essential key workers who have symptoms
  • Essential keyworker’s household members who have symptoms
  • Frontline health and care workers without symptoms if their employer considers them to be at high risk of catching and transmitting the virus because of the nature of their role or because they travel between multiple sites.

Testing is only available with a pre-booked appointment and is most effective when carried out within five days of the onset of symptoms.

  • Employers and independent key workers should use the Sussex Booking Hub to book tests. In addition to the nationally-run sites, the hub also offers appointments at locally-run sites in Bexhill and Bognor and at mobile testing sites deployed to areas of high demand. For symptomatic essential key workers who are unable to travel, home tests are also available from community testing vehicles.
  • At present, this wider range of options is not available via the national website and can only be accessed through the Sussex Booking Hub Email.
  • Employers and independent key workers to Email requests to with the following details: 
  1. Full name of person to be tested
  2. Do they have a car, and vehicle reg if so
  3. Full name of keyworker (if different)
  4. E-mail and/or mobile for confirmation and results 
To check keyworker eligibility, visit the Government website (external link)
  • Plans for regular testing for NHS staff without symptoms are currently being developed and rolled out.

Care home residents and staff

  • New suspected outbreaks must be reported to local Health Protection Teams as usual for testing of initial cases and infection control support.
  • Following initial establishment of an outbreak testing for residents with or without symptoms and staff working without symptoms, care home managers can request testing kits from the national website. At present, these are prioritised for homes that care for older people or those with dementia. This is being expanded to include other adult social care settings over the coming weeks. 
For the latest guidance and to arrange tests, visit the Government website (external link)

 

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