Quite a surprise that we’re not in Tier 1. Turns out only Isle of Wight and Cornwall are in Tier 1 (if you are interested in comparing areas, see this website that correlates the election map of the UK, tiers and covid cases).
Click here to see the full 64 page government Covid 19 Winter Plan.
So we are coming out of lockdown in a higher tier than when we went in. What will Tier 2 mean for us? (Footie fans see if your team is allowed to have spectators back here)
The following regulations are from gov.uk/guidance/local-restriction-tiers (see exemptions and support bubble extension below):
you must not socialise with anyone you do not live with or who is not in your support bubble in any indoor setting, whether at home or in a public place. This means that you sadly can’t have a pre-Christmas meal out with friends unless you’re happy to sit outside.
you must not socialise in a group of more than 6 people outside, including in a garden or a public space – this is called the ‘Rule of 6’
businesses and venues can continue to operate, in a COVID-Secure manner, other than those which remain closed by law, such as nightclubs
pubs and hospitality venues can open for meals and only serve alcohol with substantial meals, providing table service only, last orders at 10pm and close by 11pm:
food and drink take-aways can continue after 10pm as long as this is through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-through
early closure (11pm) applies to casinos, cinemas, theatres, museums, bowling alleys, amusement arcades, funfairs, theme parks, adventure parks and activities, and bingo halls. Cinemas, theatres and concert halls can stay open beyond 11pm in order to conclude performances that start before 10pm
public attendance at outdoor and indoor events (performances and shows) is permitted, limited to whichever is lower: 50% capacity, or either 2,000 people outdoors or 1,000 people indoors
public attendance at spectator sport and business events can resume inside and outside, subject to social contact rules and limited to whichever is lower: 50% capacity, or either 2,000 people outdoors or 1,000 people indoors
places of worship can open but you must not socialise with people from outside of your household or support bubble while you are indoors there, unless a legal exemption applies
15 people can attend wedding ceremonies and receptions, 30 people can attend funeral ceremonies, and 15 people can attend linked commemorative events such as wakes or stonesettings.
organised outdoor sport, and physical activity and exercise classes can continue
organised indoor sport, physical activity and exercise classes will only be permitted if it is possible for people to avoid mixing with people they do not live with (or share a support bubble with). There are exceptions for indoor disability sport, sport for educational purposes and supervised sport and physical activity for under-18s, which can take place with larger groups mixing
you can continue to travel to venues or amenities which are open, but should aim to reduce the number of journeys you make where possible
if you live in a tier 2 area, you must continue to follow tier 2 rules when you travel to a tier 1 area. Avoid travel to or overnight stays in tier 3 areas other than where necessary, such as for work, education, youth services, to receive medical treatment, or because of caring responsibilities.You can travel through a tier 3 area as a part of a longer journey
Exemptions from gatherings limits (in all tiers)
as part of a single household, or a support bubble (see expansion of bubbles for families with very small children or people with continuous care needs)
for work or providing voluntary or charitable services, including in other people’s homes
for childcare, education or training provided as part of a formal curriculum
for supervised activities provided for children, including wraparound care (before and after-school childcare), groups and activities for under 18s, and children’s playgroups
for formal support groups, and parent and child groups – up to 15 people aged 5 and older
to allow contact between birth parents and children in care, as well as between siblings in care
for arrangements where children do not live in the same household as both their parents or guardians
for prospective adopting parents to meet a child or children who may be placed with them
for birth partners
to attend a funeral – with no more than 30 people present – or a commemorative event such as a wake for someone who has died – with no more than 15 people present
to see someone who is terminally ill or at the end of life
to attend a wedding or civil partnership – with no more than 15 people present
to provide emergency assistance
to avoid injury or illness, or to escape a risk of harm
to fulfil a legal obligation, such as attending court or jury service
to provide care or assistance to someone or to provide respite for a carer
to facilitate moving home
Support Bubble Extension
The government says it will be expanding the eligibility of support bubbles from 2 December to help families with very young children or people with continuous care needs, meaning households can form a support bubble with another household, if at least one of them has:
- a child under 1 (regardless of how many other adults are in the household)
- a child under 5 with a disability that requires continuous care (regardless of how many other adults are in the household)
- a single adult (living with any additional adults in the household that have a disability and need continuous care or who turned 18 since 12 June 2020)
Useful local information:
• latest Covid data for Berkshire from Public Health Berkshire
• support for businesses:
– South & Vale Business Support for the Wantage area
• support for individuals:
Anyone in West Berkshire who needs financial help should contact the Community Support Hub on: 01635 503579, firstname.lastname@example.org or via the online form. They are open 8.30am – 5pm Monday to Thursday, and 8.30am – 4.30pm on Friday.
If you’re on a low income, unable to work from home and will lose income because you are required to self-isolate, you may be eligible for a £500 Test and Trace Support Payment.
The Furlough Scheme is being extended until the end of March 2021 If you are enrolled, the Government will pay 80% of your wages for hours you do not work. To be eligible you must have been on your employer’s payroll by 30 October.
• If you have symptoms (see below), try to get tested as soon as possible (within 5 days). See NHS instructions here on getting tested. Only get a test if you have coronavirus symptoms or have been asked to get tested. This will help make sure people who need a test can get one.
Test & Trace
If you test positive, the NHS will contact you to ask for details of anyone you have been in contact with.
If you don’t have symptoms but have been in contact with someone else who has tested positive, the NHS will also contact you.
West Berkshire has now set up a local contact tracing system to complement the national NHS system. Local contact tracers are specially trained council staff who will contact local residents that have tested positive for Covid-19 but have not been able to be reached by the national NHS Test and Trace system. Local contact tracers will inform those residents of the legal requirement to self-isolate, request their close contacts in order that they can be traced, and let them know what local support is available to them. They will call from a 01635 number and they will never ask for any financial information, passwords or payment.
What You Can Do To Help Yourself
Try to Stay Calm
Be aware of how the news makes you feel. The World Health Organization advises us to “Get the facts” but “minimise news that causes you to feel anxious or distressed,” and “find opportunities to amplify positive and hopeful stories.”
If the news makes you anxious, see Lis Allen’s advice here to reduce the number of times a day you watch it and don’t watch it after 6pm or first thing in the morning. Try doing some exercises afterwards to release tension in your body and dissipate the adrenaline that builds up in stressful situations and leaves us feeling without a sense of achievement and control.
Support for Young People
Emotional Health Academy 01635 519018
Free downloadable booklet to help children understand what is going on and deal with their emotions about the situation.
Support for Adults
Psychologist Linda K Berkeley on how to reduce the fear response which suppresses the immune system.
Thatcham therapist Rob Donnelly offers a free online session for anyone struggling with anxiety.
Keeping Energies Positive
How to Stay as Well as Possible
There are things we can do to prepare our bodies to fight the virus (see more tips below on how to recover if you get the virus):
Listen to diet advice from a local nutritionist Sam Silvester who is offering a monthly support package for £10/month. My tai chi teacher recommends a thumb size of raw ginger blitzed with half an apple and some water first thing in the morning and half an hour before you go to bed. Here are more ideas for immune-boosting home remedies.
Dr William Bird says “Moving in short bursts is enough to boost your body’s production of Natural Killer Cells that work as your body’s natural defence system, killing viruses as they try to enter your body. In order to do their job effectively though, they need to be woken up regularly with a burst of exercise – at least two activity sessions per day.” For help with exercises in the home, follow the Beat the Bug facebook page.
Going for walks is very beneficial – see our local guide to walks here.
Physiotherapists recommend this exercise for any patients with respiratory or pneumonia symptoms to increase the capacity of their lungs:
Inhale and hold for 5 seconds, exhale slowly. Repeat five times. On the sixth time, cough (to dislodge phlegm). Repeat the whole sequence again. Then lie down on your front and continue to breath deeply. (Lying on your back constricts your airways). See demonstration here.
4. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is very good for the immune system and is effective in reducing hospitalisation required for Covid patients (see this report by Dr John Campbell). 20 minutes of sunlight on unprotected skin (but without burning) is the best source. For advice about whether you might also benefit from Vitamin D supplements contact nutritionist Sam Sylvester.
5. Sleep Well
Local meditation teacher Gillian Ward invites you to join her Sleep Retreat facebook group for daily tips on relaxation and sleeping better.
If You Want to Help Others
If you want to help others, see our list of volunteer support groups across the local area. The national Age UK Telephone Befriending service and Red Cross Community Reserve volunteers also need volunteers:
So, how can we help prevent the spreading of the virus?
Hope to Cope When Self-Isolating
On a positive side, if you have to self-isolate it can be a productive time – (after all, when bubonic plague closed Cambridge University in 1665, Isaac Newton was forced to self-isolate at home and sitting in the garden one day he saw an apple fall from a tree and discovered universal gravitation!)
Our guide to coping with self-isolation includes how to keep you and your family busy, active and sane.
A lot of activities are available online so if you are inexperienced with communication technology see our gentle introduction to Skype, Zoom, WhatsApp etc.
Ask for help
See our list of volunteer support groups across the local area
99% of people are genuinely wanting to help their neighbours but unfortunately there will be a handful of scammers out there so please don’t give sensitive or financial information out or let complete strangers into your home. Please be aware of coronavirus-related scams circulating at the moment.
If you are worried about domestic violence, please see list of helplines here – there is still support available and you do not have to stay at home.
Any medical problems don’t hesitate to call your local surgery.
Food Delivery Services
Here is our list of local pubs and businesses are offering extra delivery and take-away services.
How to Recover from Coronavirus
This advice has been shared on social media for how to prepare for dealing with the virus if you get it (see symptom chart below). 90% of healthy adult cases thus far have been managed at home with basic rest/hydration/over-the-
• Take Paracetamol (not Ibuprofen) for a fever
• Take your generic, mucus thinning cough medicine of choice (just check the label and make sure you’re not doubling up on Paracetamol) or honey and lemon
• Rub Vicks on your chest. A friend found that inhaling tea tree and olbas (eucalyptus) oil in steam also helped.
• Put a humidifier in your bedroom overnight. (You can also just turn the shower on hot and sit in the bathroom breathing in the steam).
• If you have a history of asthma and you have a prescription inhaler, make sure the one you have isn’t expired and refill it/get a new one if necessary.
• Stock up on whatever your favorite clear fluids are to drink – though tap water is fine you may appreciate some variety – and meals in the freezer.
• Isolate in your bedroom if not living alone, ask friends and family to leave supplies outside to avoid contact.
• Sanitize your bed linen and clothes frequently by washing and clean your bathroom with recommended sanitizers.
You DO NOT NEED TO GO TO THE HOSPITAL unless you are having trouble breathing or your fever is very high (over 39°C) and unmanaged with meds.
Surgeries are making telephone consultations to limit the number of patients who need to visit the surgery in person.
Check hospital websites for latest policies on outpatients and visitors:
Great Western Hospital, Swindon
West Berkshire Community Hospital, Thatcham
Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading
John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford
See symptom chart here:
Another helpful one is that loss of taste and smell seems to be an indicator of coronavirus.
The Impact on Businesses and Personal Finances
Our small independent businesses are going to suffer most and will be at risk of permanently closing if they don’t have enough cash reserves to cover their costs during a drop in trade. So please support them as much as you can.
Legal aspects for employers, employees, self-employed and landlord, tenants and anyone with a mortgage – advice from Marlborough Law.
What are the statistics if you do get Coronavirus?
If you do get Coronavirus these are the chances of what will happen:
According to worldometers.info, a paper by the Chinese CCDC released on February 17 and published in the Chinese Journal of Epidemiology, based on all 72,314 cases of COVID-19 confirmed, suspected, and asymptomatic cases in China as of February 11, has found that:
- 80.9% of infections are mild (with flu-like symptoms) and can recover at home.
- 13.8% are severe, developing severe diseases including pneumonia and shortness of breath.
- 4.7% are critical and can include: respiratory failure, septic shock, and multi-organ failure.
- about 2% are fatal (this rises to 3.4% if you have pre-existing medical conditions and drops to 0.9% if you don’t)