March 17th updates: Coronavirus in the New Forest and Christchurch
FOLLOW this live updates page to find the latest coronavirus advice, developments and announcements in the New Forest and Christchurch on Tuesday 17th March.
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- Hampshire County Council leader warns of “long and difficult” period to come
- Public Health England announced two more confirmed cases coronavirus in the Hampshire County Council area as of 9am yesterday (Monday), bringing the total to 55, with five in the BCP Council area
- Residents are supporting vulnerable people with a growing list of Facebook pages offering help
- Postponed: Exbury Gardens' recording of Gardener's Question Time on BBC Radio 4
- Residents urged to double-bag potentially infected waste, such as tissues
FROM 10.30pm tonight (Tuesday) New Forest District Council is closing its leisure centres for two weeks.
It said in a statement: "We understand this will be disappointing for our customers and we thank you for your understanding. We shall not be collecting any Direct Debit payments this month."
Customers booked into sessions will be contacted over the next 48 hours, with people reserved digitally asked to delete their bookings. NFDC said they would reopen on 31st March.
It added: "We are working with the local schools to assist with their requirements and are hopeful to be able to meet their needs whilst maintaining the safety and welfare of our staff and their pupils.
"Further information will follow as we receive further national updates. "
THE leader of Hampshire County Council has warned of a “long and difficult” period of the coronavirus outbreak and that the authority would focus on on providing critical services.
HCC delivers key functions including adult social care, highways maintenance, waste disposal and education.
But as the number of people infected by the virus grows, there will be pressure to maintain services, which also include libraries and a range of other functions.
Volunteers would become increasingly important, said HCC leader Cllr Keith Mans, who represents Brockenhurst, as would closer working with district and parish councils.
Cllr Mans said: “We have been working on our business continuity plans for some weeks now, alongside our partners, to help prepare us for what we know will be a long and difficult period.
“Therefore, our focus must be on how we can deliver frontline services, on behalf of the residents of Hampshire, especially to those who need us most – over a sustained period.
“Our planning considers how we will ensure sufficient levels of staffing to keep things running and to maximise all available resource to meet demand.” Full story here.
THE coronavirus outbreak has prompted Burton and Winkton Parish Council to shut Burton Community Centre to the public.
Announcing the closure of the facility in Sandy Plot on its Facebook page, the council said this would remain in place “until further notice”.
A RECORDING of BBC Radio 4’s Gardeners’ Question Time at Exbury Gardens today (Tuesday) has been postponed amid the coronavirus outbreak.
A joint statement by Exbury Gardens, the BBC and Somethin’ Else productions said the decision had been "difficult" and apologised.
It added: "The BBC and Somethin’ Else productions are committed to recording GQT at Exbury Gardens, and the programme will return at a new date yet to be confirmed."
Anyone with a ticket can use it when the recording is rescheduled or apply for a refund by calling Louise Cooper on 023 8089 1203.
COMMUNITIES have rallied to create coronavirus social media pages so that people can offer or request help and support.
A raft of Facebook sites has been set up to give practical advice, deliver food and other supplies to people – or just offer a way for people to connect when they have gone into self-isolation.
One woman commented: “Thank you to all of you wonderful people who have offered to help the over-70s. My husband and I are over 80, and this information has helped calm me and made me feel less worried. Thank you, thank you and thank you again.”
People are offering to go shopping, pick up prescriptions, or look after children and pets.
Coordinators are compiling lists of volunteers willing to help while businesses are posting offerings of free deliveries and other services they are now running.
Some of the groups are:
- New Milton Covid-19 Support Group
- Lymington and Pennington Coronavirus Assistance and Support
- Ringwood Coronavirus Assistance
- Lyndhurst and Emery Down Emergency Assistance
- Bransgore Coronavirus Isolation Help + Support Group
- Helping hands, open arms, new forest and surrounding areas
THE combined number of people testing positive for coronavirus in the UK has reached 1,950 as of 9am this morning (Tuesday) - up from 1,543 yesterday.
The Department for Health said a total of 50,442 people have been tested, with 48,492 negative results. The latest confirmed number of deaths will be announced later today.
CHRISTCHURCH’S Regent Centre has “temporarily” postponed all of its films and events until further notice.
The announcement was made today (Tuesday) by the High Street theatre’s general manager, Matthew Vass-White, who explained this followed the government’s advice that people should avoid theatres, clubs and pubs.
People who have pre-booked tickets are being assured the centre will get in contact in the coming weeks to discuss the status of their transaction.
BUSINESSES in the New Forest and Christchurch are gearing up to support vulnerable people and keep their operations ticking over.
Matthew Grigg, landlord at The Landford Poacher near West Wellow, said he will cook 20 free carvery dinners tomorrow (Wednesday) for elderly locals self-isolating - but needs volunteers to deliver the meals for him.
Mr Grigg said on the pub's Facebook page he would donate meals weekly from his usual Wednesday carvery to those living alone and/or at risk.
“I intend to continue this as long as we can and whilst serving a Wednesday Carvery. I will only be able to serve a set number of people each week so [it’s] subject to availability," he said.
“You are welcome to nominate someone who this would genuinely help in the parishes of Nomansland, Landford, Hamptworth and the surrounding villages. However I don’t have the resources to deliver as we are only a small independent pub."
To get involved email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Not sure what to do if you or someone in your household has symptoms of coronavirus? Follow the Public Health England advice.
Hampshire Fire and Rescue has promised its emergency response remains unaffected after it suspended non-essential activities, including school visits and charity car washes.
It said on Twitter: "We are following government guidance and have robust plans to continue to keep the people of Hampshire safe."
PEOPLE out of work amid the coronavirus pandemic can apply for Universal Credit and receive a month's advance up front without having to attend a meeting.
David McArthur, local employer and partnership manager at the Department for Work and Pensions, said: “We understand people who are required to stay at home or are infected by coronavirus may need financial support, and quickly.
“Those affected will be able to apply for Universal Credit and can receive up to a month’s advance up front without physically attending a Jobcentre Plus office.
“If you believe that you may have been infected, or have been in close contact with someone who has, please do not delay in making a claim to Universal Credit. You should stay at home and apply at the earliest opportunity.”
To apply, go to www.gov.uk/apply-universal-credit.
ST MARK’S church in Pennington is live-streaming Sunday services to reach people who are worried about attending them during the coronavirus scare.
The Rev. Rachel Noel said they had come up with the idea following the latest advice from the government to avoid social gatherings.
She said: “I am delighted that we have been able to find a way to reduce isolation and to help people to still feel a part of their local community.
“Over the coming weeks as more people will have to stay at home, social distancing and social isolation, and as gatherings are being closed down, we will find a way to still share something of our community online, even if the only way that people can be a part of our worship is from their homes.”
The first live service was broadcast on YouTube to 225 people on Sunday and will continue at 9.30am each week during the pandemic.
To watch this Sunday go to www.youtube.com/channel/UCKRF1l-cpB5-rn1o5tUNWUw.
THE UK's Foreign Office has advised with immediate effect against all non-essential international travel for the next 30 days at least.
Foreign secretary Dominic Raab said: "UK travellers abroad now face widespread international border restrictions and lock downs in various countries. The speed and range of those measures across other countries is unprecedented.
"So I have taken the decision to advise British nationals against all non-essential international travel."
In a statement the Foreign Office said British people who decide that they still need to travel abroad should be "fully aware of the increased risks" of doing so.
It added: "That includes the risk that they may not be able to get home, if travel restrictions are put in place. Anyone still considering travel to be realistic about the level of disruption they are willing and able to endure, and to make decisions in light of the unprecedented conditions we face.
"We are not currently advising British people to immediately return to the UK if they are overseas, except for a few countries detailed in our travel advice. However, British people should keep in mind that flights may be cancelled at short notice or other travel restrictions may be put in place by foreign governments"
AN MP who grew up near Christchurch has described as “surreal” the experience of self-isolating after meeting a government minister who tested positive for the Covid-19 illness.
Rachael Maskell, a former Highcliffe School pupil, carried on with her duties while confined to a single bedroom in her sister’s flat in London, using her Skype and phone to assist.
She self-isolated after meeting Conservative minister Nadine Dorries on 5th March to discuss mental health legislation. The Tory subsequently became the first MP to confirm she had the coronavirus.
Speaking to the A&T yesterday (Monday), Ms Maskell (47) said she was fit and well and had been “asymptomatic” during her period in self-isolation.
“It was a kind of surreal experience when you are confined to four walls,” she said. Full story here.
THE RNLI is temporarily shutting its shops to the public, including the outlet in Lymington, but said it was continuing lifesaving operations.
The coronavirus closure policy includes museums and visitor centres around the UK and has come in with immediate effect, the charity said in a statement.
It added: "The welfare of our volunteers, supporters and staff, along with our ability to maintain our world-class lifesaving service, is our priority.
"Our lifeboat station remain operational but will not be open to visitors."
PEOPLE self-isolating due to the coronavirus outbreak have been urged by New Forest District Council to take extra care with their rubbish to avoid spreading the Covid-19 disease.
Advice is to double-bag all waste that contains potentially infected material such as tissues. It should also be kept separate and not put out for collection for at least 72 hours. Other household waste can be disposed of as normal.
NFDC said the advice was based on guidance form central government, designed to prevent transmission of the virus. NFDC updates are available here.
FOOTBALL has been suspended by the FA for the “foreseeable future” but with the cricket season round the corner, the Southern Premier Cricket League is currently not advising postponement or cancellation of matches.
On the SPL website, general secretary Adam Smith said the management committee was monitoring the coronavirus situation will be taking advice on how to proceed when more information becomes available.
Mr Smith said: ""The current England Cricket Board advice is to take sensible precautions but to continue with keeping active and are not advising to postpone or cancel matches.
"However, after yesterday's government advice, I wouldn't be surprised if this were to change in the coming days but we will let you know as soon as possible."
The 2020 Club Induction scheduled today (Tuesday) has been cancelled there will instead be a presentation sent via email to those clubs who were due to attend.
Mr Smith added: "The captains meeting is still planned to go ahead on April 23rd but we will monitor this and let you know should this also have to be cancelled/postponed. However, this may present a logistical problem in distributing the paperwork and cricket balls to the clubs and we may need your help in arranging this at a future date."
THE organisers of Totton’s festival of drama, which was due to be held at Hanger Farm Arts Centre on 24th-28th March, have announced it has been cancelled.
A statement from chair Mike Farleigh said: “We have tried everything in our power to hold the event and we apologise for the short notice of the cancellation, but our duty of care for both audience and groups leave us, we feel, with little choice.”
Refunds for those who have already purchased tickets will be arranged by the arts centre.
HUNDREDS of volunteers have been stood down for the Great British Spring Clean which has been postponed until September.
Litter picks had been due to take place around the New Forest between 20th March and 13th April but the operation has been put back to 11th-27th September.
Peter Armstrong, local ambassador for organising charity Keep Britain Tidy, said: "Our first priority has always been making sure everyone stays safe and so, we have taken the decision to postpone this year’s Great British Spring Clean until later in the year.
"In the coming days and weeks, we will be updating you on how you can get involved and show your support to help #KeepBritainTidy."
ABBOTSWOOD Junior School has today (Tuesday) cancelled all activities run by the school before and after class.
Clubs run by outside providers will continue to run, it said, with organisers responsible for any changes. New Forest Child Care continues to operate as normal.
The school said in a statement: "We are making the decision to cancel school-run clubs until we can be confident of staffing them effectively. This includes all before and after school sports clubs, film club, board games club, book bingo, art club and choir.
"We appreciate that this will cause some inconvenience. However, we hope you understand that safeguarding the children is always our top priority."
It added that pupils should not be arriving at school before 8:45am as they are unsupervised at this time. Parents with any questions should email email@example.com.
Yellow Buses has announced it will be operating a Saturday timetable throughout the whole week starting on Monday 23rd March due to the worsening situation.
With passenger numbers down and the likelihood that some staff will be self-isolating, the company says it wants customers to have reliable bus times.
By taking this action, the management hopes to create a timetable robust enough to withstand any further disruption.
Full story here.
HUSBAND and wife film-makers James Smith and Caroline Spence from Christchurch have been left stranded in Spain because of the spread of coronavirus.
The pair, who run Raya Films, were due to fly back to the UK on Saturday but have been told they must stay in the country for at least another 15 days.
They are in the country to edit two films they have recently finished filming – cybercrime thriller Cyberlante and mystery horror Surveilled – and research and write a third as-yet-untitled feature, which is set in Spain.
SCHOOLS in Totton and the Waterside have limited the number of pupils attending from today (Tuesday) due to staffing levels.
In a letter to parents, Hounsdown School in Jacob Gutter’s Lane, Totton, said it would begin a programme of partial closures beginning with Year 8 pupils remaining at home. All other year groups are to attend as normal.
Noadswood School in North Road, Dibden Purlieu, said in a statement it would be asking Year 9 students to stay at home today, with the exception of those whose parents work in frontline services.
In Prime Minister Boris Johnson's first daily update yesterday (Monday) he announced measures including:
- Everyone should avoid gatherings and crowded places, such as pubs, clubs and theatres
- Working from home if possible
- Unnecessary visits to friends and relatives in care homes should stop
- People should only use the NHS "where we really need to" - and get advice on the NHS website where possible
- Those with the most serious health conditions must be "largely shielded from social contact" for about 12 weeks
- If one person in any household has a persistent cough or fever, everyone living there must stay at home for 14 days
- Those isolated should avoid leaving the house "even to buy essentials" – but may leave the house "for exercise and, in that case, at a safe distance from others"
- Schools will stay open for the moment
Those who should be "particularly stringent" in minimising their social contact are:
- People over 70
- Adults who would usually be advised to have the flu vaccine
- Pregnant women
LOCAL sport has been shut down due to coronavirus after the government advised against mass gatherings.
The FA has postponed all grassroots football for the “foreseeable future” and it is unclear when it will be able to return.
In a statement, the FA said: “Throughout this period, we have taken government advice with the priority being the health and wellbeing of all. We will continue to work closely with the grassroots game during this time."
VE Day celebrations in New Milton, which were due to include a clifftop party on 8th May, have been cancelled. Organisers how hope to hold it on 15th August.
RAIL replacement buses have had to be rolled out between Brockenhurst and Lymington Pier stations after a train crew member was taken ill this morning.
All South Western Railway (SWR) train services between the two stations have been cancelled, with disruption expected to continue until 11am.
ALL but non-essential meetings of New Forest District Council members have been cancelled as part of the authority’s bid to help contain the spread of coronavirus.
NFDC announced that only full council and planning and licensing sub-committee meetings will go ahead as scheduled in the coming weeks.
In a message NFDC added: “As part of our support to the government’s approach to delay the spread of coronavirus, all non-essential member meetings have been cancelled until further notice.”