The whole of the South East has seen a rise in cases since the November lockdown ended and now in the latest government announcement on 19 December, West Berks and Berkshire are going up to Tier 4 but surrounding areas are staying in Tier 2.
Tier 4 – including West Berkshire & Berkshire
- Like the national Lockdown 2 in November the following will be closed: non-essential shops (some might continue click and collect), indoor gyms and personal care services (hair dressers etc)
- People need to work from home where possible.
- Communal worship can continue (state by the PM in his announcement above)
- People can only meet one other person in an outdoor space
- People should not enter or leave tier 4 areas, and Tier 4 residents must not stay overnight away from home.
- Individuals can only meet one person from another household in an outdoor public space.
- Those in Tier 4 areas will not be permitted to travel abroad apart from limited exceptions, such as for work purposes.
Tier 4 restrictions will not be lifted over Christmas. Those living in Tier 4 areas should not mix with anyone outside their own household at Christmas, though support bubbles will remain in place for those at particular risk of loneliness or isolation. There will be no relaxation for the New Year.
• How to stay safe over the Christmas period from West Berkshire Council – updated 19/12/20.
• Latest Covid data for Berkshire from Public Health Berkshire
See below for financial support for businesses and individuals.
Tier 2 – including Wilts, Swindon, Hants, The Vale of the White Horse, South Oxon
More Government Info
Reminder of the National Lockdown 2 restrictions that were in place until 2 December.
For all the govermment information visit gov.uk/coronavirus .
Financial Support for Businesses & Individuals
• Support for businesses:
– West Berkshire Council has been awarded £3.17 million from national Government to support businesses across the district that are not covered by other grant schemes or where additional funding is needed – see the Additional Restrictions Grant for how to apply.
– South & Vale Business Support for the Wantage area
• The Furlough Scheme is being extended until the end of April 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.
• Support for individuals:
Anyone in West Berkshire who needs financial help from the Winter Hardship Fund should contact the Community Support Hub on: 01635 503579, email@example.com or via the online form. They are open 8.30am – 5pm Monday to Thursday, and 8.30am – 4.30pm on Friday. Applications are not means tested and are assessed on a case by case basis.
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.
Test & Trace
- If you have Covid symptoms, 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.
- How the NHS Test & Trace app works
- 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.
Local Hospital Links
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
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.