How have local authorities responded to Coronavirus, and what actions are they taking to keep us safe?

Posted by Edward Jonkler on November 25, 2020

The government’s, nation-wide response to Coronavirus has been made clear throughout the pandemic, whether through televised briefings led by senior ministers, or news articles laying out the latest guidelines; it has been near impossible to miss an update. 

Within our local areas however, is has perhaps been less obvious as to exactly what local authorities and councils have been doing to help us through this crisis, as, seemingly, most changes have simply come under the ‘government guidelines’ that everyone must follow. 

However, along with public services such as TFL, who have been very public with their Coronavirus cleaning and hygiene measures to keep passengers safe and to continue to encourage the public  to use their services, local councils have also made significant an individual efforts to help their local areas, with detailed updates to their websites about changes to services and the ways in which they are helping to keep us safe in the area through cleaning and social distancing measures.

Camden Council for example, have created a ‘Commonplace Website’ for members of the public to let them know how they feel about the COVID-19 changes they have made, and offer advice and ideas for improvements. Examples of changes have included five new cycle lanes and restricting traffic on 19 residential streets and those outside eight schools, to aide social distancing on streets, and to give residents more space to walk and cycle. 

Camden Council have also made significant changes to their indoor public services, including libraries. Although most libraries are currently closed during the nationwide four-week lockdown, the services were adapted for reopening in the summer, and will be ready to offer a safe service if they are allowed to reopen in December. Changes include a restriction to 20 minute book browsing per customer, an increased and more rigorous cleaning regime of all books and surfaces, as well as social distancing within the library itself. You can read more about the measures Camden Council have taken across their services here. 

Brent Council have laid out specific guidelines on their website for the safety of tenants and leaseholders living in council housing. Repairs, safety and heating work can continue during this national lockdown but both tenants and contractors must adhere to all government guidelines, including social distancing, face coverings and ensuring surfaces are thoroughly cleaned before and after touching them. 

For private tenants living in the Brent area, the council have also advised on a list of specific reasons why your landlord may enter your home during the current lockdown, to protect tenants and reduce social contact. These reasons include:

• Resolving problems with water supply

• Safe electricity and gas supplies

• Fire safety

• Drainage

• Heating and hot water

• Pest control

• Leaks

• Works to windows and doors that may affect security

  For hygiene and safety reasons, tenants should not allow landlords into their home for any other reason. 

In terms of services such as bin collections, the government has laid out guidelines for local authorities to keep councils workers safe during this time. With more people spending more time at home, councils have seen more waste produced by households than normal. 

For those self isolating due to a possible or positive COVID-19 case, the guidance is that items such as used tissues and cleaning cloths should be stored securely within a disposable rubbish bag and kept separately from other waste. This should then be put aside for at least 72 hours before being put in your external household waste bin, in order to keep waste collectors safe from any possible coronavirus germs. 

Protecting care homes have also been a high priority for the government and council services, in particular in terms of services like bin collections. If waste collections were reduced or stopped for any reason, it would risk the health of elderly, vulnerable residents. Clinical waste from care homes must be continually prioritised to prevent infections. Assisted collections have also been prioritised and maintained, for vulnerable households that may be unable to present their waste for collections. Councils have been advised to ensure residents, carers, and workers are aware and follow all guidance for the safe disposal and collection of waste where residents are vulnerable or who have self-isolated. 

You can read more about government guidance for local authorities here.