We are now in the second week of staying at home and observing strict social distancing.
I know it has been difficult to adjust to this new way of life, but it is essential. Now more than ever it is vital to follow the guidelines to the letter and the next few weeks will be crucial in protecting the NHS and saving as many lives as possible.
Please, you must only leave your house for very limited purposes:
- shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible
- one form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle - alone or with members of your household
- any medical need, including to donate blood, avoid or escape risk of injury or harm, or to provide care
- to help a vulnerable person
- travelling for work purposes, but only where you cannot work from home
The Police and Council officers will be out and about enforcing these rules. Please remember they are acting in the best interests of the country. Just like our retailers when they insist on limiting the number of some goods you can buy, please treat them with respect, listen and follow what they say!
Terrible to say, but we know that we will see increasing numbers of people dying over the coming weeks; this will be very hard for everyone. Social distancing WILL help reduce these numbers if we stick to them.
The seriousness of the situation can be gauged by the creation of a ‘Nightingale’ hospital at the NEC and a regional mortuary facility at Birmingham Airport. These are all part of the preparations for when the numbers become too high for our normal health and bereavement services to cope with.
In line with the Government guidance, our cemeteries are now completely closed weekdays and weekends and only a maximum of six people can be allowed at any funeral. We have not taken this decision lightly; a bereavement is a most tragic event for all of us. However, this is being done in accordance with Government advice, to keep staff and mourners safe.
What I would say is that we have seen an incredible level of community spirit and support, which will help us through this difficult time.
We have had 27 calls to the here2helpSolihull volunteer line since it started on Friday and are busy trying to match the offers of help to the support that is needed. Thank you to these latest volunteers and to the many already helping in our communities. Do please remember that volunteering which requires you to leave the house is only permitted in certain circumstances.
If you are well and are not at risk from coronavirus, you can help with delivering food and helping people with their medicinal needs, such as picking up prescriptions. At all times, please remember to observe social distancing and avoid direct and close contact particularly with vulnerable people. For more information go to the Government’s guidance here.
As part of the national “Shielding” operation, the first Solihull residents within the 1.5 million identified nationally as being extremely vulnerable have received essential food drops over the weekend and will continue to receive food in the coming weeks. Council officers are continuing to work with colleagues in Solihull Community Housing and the borough’s voluntary and community sector to provide support to those other people in our community who need help.
Whilst staying at home, you must take care also of your mental wellbeing. This is a difficult time and everyone will occasionally feel anxious. There are lots of tips online and available from the NHS to help you with this.
Personally, I would like to pay tribute to all the wonderful people working hard to deliver services at this time: our amazing NHS staff, our social care workers delivering vital services to safeguard vulnerable people, all the other many, many unsung heroes; in every part of life, they are helping thousands of our residents in care homes, in peoples’ own homes; getting food and medicine to those that need them; countless other tasks. These dedicated workers deserve our respect and heartfelt thanks for continuing to serve in these trying times.
A big thank you also to the Council staff who are busily keeping services going where possible; offering support to our residents and businesses, and our schools playing a key part in keeping the NHS functioning by caring for the children of our key workers.
Stay home, help protect the NHS and save lives.
Councillor Ian Courts, Leader of Solihull Council
31 March 2020