Coronavirus - updates for Cumbria County Council employees

14:54PM Friday, 4 December 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) staff update

Vaccination plans developing

What's happening in Cumbria

The new COVID-19 vaccines have been much discussed in the media this week. Plans for who will receive the vaccine, when they will receive it and how are still being developed nationally. As has been seen this week, plans are frequently changing in response to circumstances.

The latest position is that staff and residents in care homes, and those aged over 80, are likely to be the first people that the vaccine is made available to. This could start as early as next week in some places. It is not yet clear what the arrangements will be in Cumbria. It is probable that when decisions are made, plans will be put in place quite quickly.

A vaccine will provide protection against COVID-19, eventually allowing the country to get back to normal. This will only be possible if the vast majority of people are vaccinated and this will take considerable time.

Vaccine safety

It is important to know that all the normal safety and testing processes are being followed and vaccines will only become available once they have approval from the regulator.

It has been possible to develop the vaccine more quickly than usual because scientists have worked together, huge amounts of resource have been committed and there was already a lot of knowledge about vaccines for similar viruses.

Also unusually, different parts of the vaccine development process have happened in parallel, for instance large quantities of the new vaccine have been produced before approval was granted. This would not usually happen because of the financial risk involved, but because of the urgency of the situation Government has been prepared to take that risk.

More information

As soon as we know more about how the vaccination programme will work in Cumbria we will let you know.

Meanwhile if you have any questions please email ask.colin@cumbria.gov.uk

There is also useful information about vaccines in general at NHS.UK

WATCH: Scientists explain the how the vaccine has been developed

In this video from the Department of Health and Social Care, the lead scientists from the team developing the 'Oxford vaccine' explain how they have got to this point.


Significant reduction in new COVID-19 infections

Data published for week ending 27 November shows a steep drop in the number of new COVID-19 infections being reported.

There were 404 new cases in Cumbria compared to 858 the previous week, a decrease of 53%. All Cumbria's districts now have infection rates below the England average.

Read the full report

Colin Cox, Cumbria' Director of Public Health

This reduction in new infections is very welcome news and shows quite clearly that in Cumbria the lockdown measures achieved their main aim of significantly slowing the spread of the virus.

But it's important to realise that the infection rate is still very much higher than it was at the end of the Summer. Back then, within two months we were into a second lockdown. So, we are definitely not out of the woods yet and the new Tier 2 restrictions are necessary if we want to bring the rate down even lower and have a chance of having restrictions eased in future. We can get there, but everyone needs to do their bit and stick to the guidance."


Cumbria now High Alert for COVID-19

All of Cumbria is now under Tier 2 High Alert COVID-19 restrictions. Make sure you know the rules.

Visit GOV.UK


New testing site for Kendal

A new walk-through coronavirus testing facility is to open on the car park behind the County Offices, off Busher Walk in Kendal.

Testing at the new site is expected to begin on Tuesday 8 December. Testing is available for everyone, with additional support for vulnerable groups and people with disabilities.

Anyone with coronavirus symptoms, however mild, can get a free swab test that takes less than a minute. Tests should be booked or ordered as soon as symptoms begin at nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119 and people being tested can expect their result the next day. Home test kits can also be ordered by people who cannot get to a test site.


16:24PM Wednesday, 2 December 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) staff update

Cumbria now at High Alert for COVID-19

All of Cumbria has today moved into Tier 2 High Alert COVID-19 restrictions. From today:

  • You must not mix with other households indoors
  • Only meet people outdoors in groups of up to 6
  • Work from home if possible
  • Reduce the number of journeys you make

Full details of all the new restrictions.


Colin Cox, Cumbria's Director of Public Health:

"I'd like to thank everyone doing their bit over the past four weeks; it's because people have overwhelmingly done the right thing that we have seen a significant drop in new infections. I know these restrictions have been difficult for people for a range of reasons and I sincerely hope it Is not necessary for these measures to be brought back in the future.

The new three tier system has built on the previous one. The rules in each tier are now different, and tougher, than before. If people stick to these new rules then we have a chance to further reduce the number of new infections, and hopefully drop down into the lowest tier of restrictions.

But the fact that only three parts of the England are currently in Tier 1 shows this will not be easy, and given how quickly we know this infection can spread we could easily move up a tier if we don't take the necessary steps to protect ourselves and our communities."


WATCH: Director of Public Health live QandA


Christmas bubbles

The government is changing some social contact restrictions for a short period of time over Christmas to allow families to get together.

Find out more about making a Christmas bubble.


15:12PM Thursday, 26 November 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) staff update

Cumbria confirmed as Tier 2 'High Alert' area

The Government has today announced that Cumbria will move into Tier 2 of the new COVID-19 restrictions classification system from 00:01 on 2 December. Tier 2 areas are classed as High Alert for COVID-19.

Under the new restriction level groups of up to six people will be permitted to meet outdoors, but there must be no mixing of households indoors. Education settings remain open and pubs and bars must close unless operating as restaurants.

Decisions on tiers are made by Government ministers informed by the following factors:

  • Case detection rate (in all age groups and, in particular, amongst the over 60s)
  • How quickly case rates are rising or falling
  • Positivity in the general population
  • Pressure on the NHS - including current and projected (3-4 weeks out) NHS capacity - including admissions, general/acute/ICU bed occupancy, staff absences; and
  • Local context and exceptional circumstances such as a local but contained outbreak.

If these indicators are not improving, an area may be moved up a tier and if the trajectory improves, the area may move to a lower tier.

Full details of the new restrictions.


Cumbria's Director of Public Health Colin Cox

"The very latest data, up to Tuesday this week, indicates that the number of new infections is now reducing in all parts of the county which is very welcome and shows that it is possible to slow the spread of this virus.

That said, the infection rate is still higher than we would wish it to be and we expected that the county would be placed in Tier 2. If restrictions were relaxed further there is little doubt we would see infections begin to rise again rapidly. Only in this last week of lockdown have we started to see some reduction in the number of people in hospital, which is very positive, but our hospitals remain under intense pressure and it is simply not sustainable for numbers in hospital to remain at these levels, let alone increase further.

The new restrictions do provide more scope for people to have social contact outside the home and that is very welcome. However, I would encourage people to stay switched on to the risks. Keep doing all the simple things - maintain social distancing, wear face coverings and wash hands - if we all do this then we can hopefully sustain the reduction in new infections."


COVID-19 situation report for week ending 20 November

The weekly COVID-19 situation report has been published.

The report shows:

  • There were 860 new cases in Cumbria (a 199 decrease, -19%, from 1,059 cases in previous week)
  • For the 5th week in a row Carlisle had the greatest number of new cases (+302 new cases), followed by South Lakeland (+244 new cases)
  • Carlisle and South Lakeland also had the highest rates of new cases (278 and 232 new cases per 100k population respectively)
  • Numbers of new cases increased from week 46 in Carlisle and South Lakeland (+22% and +5% respectively)
  • Figures for Carlisle and South Lakeland are significantly affected by large outbreaks at Sedbergh School and Richard Rose Central Academy. These outbreaks resulted in 270 positive cases, the majority of which are reported in this week's figures
  • Numbers of new cases in Allerdale, Barrow-in-Furness, Copeland and Eden decreased from the previous week, with all four of these districts having rates below the national and regional averages
  • The number of new patients admitted with COVID-19 in both North Cumbria Integrated Care (NCIC) and University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMB) decreased slightly from the previous week
  • The average number of patients with COVID-19 in beds in NCIC was unchanged from the previous week, while the average number of patients with COVID-19 in beds in UHMB decreased slightly from the previous week.


Facebook Live event with Colin Cox tonight

Colin Cox, our Director of Public Health, will host a live QandA session on our Facebook page on Thursday 26 November between 7.30pm to 8.30pm.

Tune in to hear the latest coronavirus updates for Cumbria and feel free to ask a question.


WATCH: Vaccine development explained

"People shouldn't be worried that we're going too quickly."

Scientists leading the development of a COVID-19 vaccine at the University of Oxford explain how they assess safety at each stage of the process.

Watch the vaccine development video in full


14:57PM Friday, 20 November 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) staff update

Latest COVID-19 data

Across Cumbria data is beginning to indicate that, despite recording the highest number of cases in week ending 13 November, in most parts of the county the infection rate is beginning to stabilise, with all areas now below the England average.

However, concerns remain particularly for South Lakeland and Barrow which both saw significant increases in new cases, up 42% and 32% respectively. Both areas continue to be monitored closely.

All Cumbrian districts now have infection rates of between 188 and 224 per 100,000 population. The England average is 274 per 100,000 population.

The number of people in hospital as a result of COVID-19 also continued to increase, with 93 people in north Cumbria and 161 in the Morecambe Bay NHS Trust areas (17 November), up from 64 and 158 respectively last week. However, there are early indications that the number of new hospital admissions each day is dropping in the south of the county. A further 25 people have died in the last seven days.

Latest COVID-19 situation report


Colin Cox, Cumbria's Director of Public Health, said:

"Nationally it remains to be seen whether this latest lockdown is going to be effective in driving down infection rates, and the signs at the moment are not hugely encouraging. Locally in Cumbria the picture is a little more positive, and it is pleasing to see most areas starting to level off - we are no longer seeing the alarming rates of increase of just a few weeks ago.

But it's very clear that our hospitals, particularly in the north of the county now, are under intense pressure as a result of increasing admissions for COVID-19 and that it is not sustainable for them to operate like this.

So while we are below the England average, by any normal measure the infection rate is still high and I really urge everyone in the county to stick to the current rules and do all you can to avoid unnecessary social contact, keep your distance, cover your face and keep washing hands. If we do, then we can reduce the pressure on our hospitals and give ourselves the best chance of restrictions being loosened in time for Christmas. This really is a critical time."


COVID-19 vaccination programme

You will all be aware of the exciting news around the development of Covid -19 vaccines and the plans to offer immunisations in the near future.

Work to plan for the Covid vaccine is well underway for Cumbria.

The planning involves a wide range of organisations. The NHS locally, regionally and nationally are leading the work, but with significant support from Cumbria County Council, our district councils, the military, Cumbria Police and many more.

While there is a lot of media coverage about the vaccine and how it will be delivered, it is important to remember we are still at a very early stage and this work is to ensure that we are ready as soon the vaccine is available.

The first part of the vaccine programme will focus on those that are most at risk, and is likely to include those who are in residential care or the very frail and elderly living at home, those who are clinically vulnerable, and those that work with them.

The first part of the process is expected to be led by GPs, who already carry out the national annual flu vaccine delivery for those in the at risk group.

This is likely to be a complex operation with GPs working with their neighbouring practices in Primary Care Networks (PCNs) - that's groups of practices in local areas. We have 8 PCNs across north Cumbria and 9 in south Cumbria and Morecambe Bay. They are used to working together and with local pharmacy teams on vaccination programmes.

It will also involve the vaccination of frontline NHS and social care staff.

Once completed, the programme will move onto vaccination for the rest of our community in line with the national plans.

This work will be complex because of the way the vaccine might have to be stored and delivered, so early planning is crucial.

It is likely that the plans will continue to evolve as we know more about the vaccine and the timescales - but there is a team of people from a range of organisations across the county who are working to ensure we are ready.


New walk-through testing centres

Barrow

A walk-through coronavirus testing facility has opened in Barrow, located in the Town Hall Courtyard on Cornwallis Street.

Eden

A walk-through coronavirus testing facility is to open at Sandgate Car Park in Penrith. Testing at the new site will start on Friday 20 November, with appointments available every day between 8am and 8pm. Testing is available for everyone, with additional support for vulnerable groups and people with disabilities.

Carlisle

Carlisle's walk-through coronavirus testing facility is to be moved from the Castle car park on Devonshire Walk to Cecil Street car park, next to the county council's Cumbria House building. The Cecil Street car park testing site is expected to be built from Tuesday 24 November and the new facility will be open 8am to 8pm every day from Saturday 28 November 2020. The larger site at Carlisle Airport remains open.

Allerdale

A walk-through coronavirus testing facility is to open on the overflow car park on Griffin Street, between Allerdale House and Workington Leisure Centre. Testing at the new site will start on Wednesday 25 November, with appointments available every day between 8am - 8pm. Testing is available for everyone, with additional support for vulnerable groups and people with disabilities.

New sites in Copeland and South Lakeland are in the planning stage.

Book a test

Tests should be booked as soon as symptoms begin at or by calling 119. Home test kits can also be ordered by people who cannot get to a test site.


14:55PM Friday, 13 November 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) staff update

24 deaths in the last week as hospital numbers increase

The latest COVID-19 data for the county shows the number of people in hospital increasing sharply, and 24 local people dying from the disease in the last 7 days.

As of 10 November there were 222 people in hospital across Cumbria's two NHS Trusts (64 in North Cumbria and 158 Morecambe Bay), up from 159 last week - a 40% increase.

Despite welcome signs that infection spread may be slowing in some areas, the news has prompted warnings that people must respect national lockdown measures and follow the public health guidance.

Colin Cox, Cumbria's Director of Public Health, said:

"We know that there is a time delay between people being infected and being admitted to hospital, so what we are seeing now is people in hospital, and sadly dying, who were infected before the new lockdown started. Unfortunately, we would expect these numbers to continue to increase for a period, despite some welcome signs that infection spread is now slowing in some parts of the county.

This is putting our hospitals under enormous pressure and it is absolutely essential that everyone sticks to the rules to help reduce transmission.

We can see from the data for Barrow that the infection rate does come down when everyone takes action and I'd like to recognise the effort that people in Barrow have made to achieve that significant reduction. The whole county now needs to follow suit, so we can get infections down to manageable levels and avoid our NHS services being overwhelmed."

This week's data shows:

  • There were 999 new cases in Cumbria (+39 increase, +4%, from 960 cases in previous week)
  • For the 3rd week in a row Carlisle had the highest number of new cases (+293 new cases)
  • Carlisle also had the highest rate of new cases (270 new cases per 100k population) and was well above the England average (245 new cases per 100k population)
  • Numbers of new cases increased steeply in Allerdale and Copeland, with smaller increases in Eden and Carlisle
  • Numbers of new cases in Barrow and South Lakeland decreased from the previous week (by -42% and -8% respectively)
  • For the 4th week in a row, the 45 to 59 age group accounted for the greatest number of new cases in Cumbria
  • Local Registrars data shows 24 deaths as a result of COVID-19 in the last seven days.

Weekly COVID-19 situation report.


Colin Cox holds live Q and A on Facebook

On Tuesday evening, our Director of Public Health held a public Q and A live on Facebook. Over 340 people joined as Colin spent an hour updating the public on the latest situation in Cumbria and responding to over 100 questions live on screen. Since the event the video has now reached over 21,000 people and received a great deal of positive feedback.

Replay it on Facebook.


'Help is here' campaign continues as 250,000 support booklets sent to households across Cumbria

Vital information from Cumbria County Council, local NHS, district councils and the community and voluntary sector has been landing on the doormats of households across Cumbria this week.

It's hoped that the support booklet will make it easier for people, who may be struggling with the pressures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, to get the help they need.

The 'Help is here' campaign is also running online and people who are struggling can go to Cumbria County Council's website to find help quickly. Organisations from across the county have contributed to the online information, which includes a new search tool, and support for people struggling to feed themselves or their families, debt and housing advice, benefits and financial grants, mental wellbeing and more.


Please share our social media updates

Agencies across Cumbria are continuing to share trusted information, advice and guidance and you can help by sharing this on your own social media accounts.

Every share or retweet means we reach more people and spread important messages wider across our communities.

@Cumbria Twitter

@CumbriaCC Facebook


11:12AM Friday, 23 October 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) staff update

COVID-19 symptoms? Stay at home and get tested

If you are showing any symptoms the guidance for our staff is clear . Your MUST self isolate and get a test.

If the test is negative you can return to work if you are feeling well enough to do so.

If your test is positive you MUST self-isolate - for 10 days from the point your symptoms started.

Also please be aware - If you are in close contact with a confirmed case you must also self-isolate for 14 days. Even if you have tested clear.

For the full guidance visit the NHS website.


Booking office space

Do you need an occasional 'safe and private' space away from home to carry out essential duties such as difficult, emotional calls with clients?

We know, following feedback from staff that while you all understand the need to continue to work at home - many of you have said that this is becoming increasingly difficult and what you really need a safe/confidential space that you can book for short periods of time - a place where you can safely separate 'work from home' for a short time and a place where you can make sensitive calls to customers or have a safe space to talk to a colleague, in person and face to face, for some essential wrap around care and support. Something that is becoming increasingly important given our challenging working environment and the length of time COVID is going on.

Meeting rooms at the Council's six main building (located around the county) are now available to you for this purpose. A lot of work has been done to ensure that they are COVID safe.

So If you are in need of a short break away from home, to carry out essential duties such as confidential/difficult calls to customers - or a safe space to meet a colleague for support - you can now book a meeting room.

All we ask is that you follow the rules, book through the online booking system and respect all the safety rules that are in place. And remember, hands, face, space.

Meeting rooms can be booked in the usual way through the Condecco System via your MS Outlook, though the system will now ask for additional information to ensure we comply with the requirements of test, track and trace.


Update on plans to return essential/identified staff to the office/workplace

We have been working hard to identify those of us for whom working from home is becoming increasingly difficult - so that we can make deskspace in an office available to you.

A list of staff who need access to an office desk - full or part-time - because their role requires it or because of well-being and personal circumstances is now being finalised. Once complete, this list will be shared with your Assistant Director and we will ensure that plans are in place to communicate this to the relevant staff and also that any staff approved for returning to a workplace/office has been properly updated and inducted.


Latest COVID-19 report for Cumbria

717 new COVID19 cases were reported in Cumbria in the week ending 16 October, up from 612 the previous week.

While Barrow continued to have the highest number of new cases (194), the infection rate decreased slightly over the previous week (295/100k to 289/100k), providing an early indication that the local restrictions that have been put in place may be having a positive impact. The area's infection rate remains the highest in Cumbria and well above the national average (170/100k).

The Health Protection Board agreed that the Barrow Borough Council area should remain a High Alert area.

All other areas remain at Medium Alert.

The full Alert Levels guidance can be found on the Gov.uk website.

Carlisle also saw a large rise in new cases compared the previous week, up from 87 to 190. A significant rise in Eden is also of concern but may be related to increased levels of testing in the district. Both areas now have an infection rate slightly higher than the national average and are being monitored closely, with consideration being given to whether further action may be required to reduce infection spread.

This week's data also shows that for the first time since August the 45 to 59 year old age group saw the highest number of new cases, overtaking 15 to 29 year olds.

There were 50 confirmed COVID-19 patients in hospital beds in Cumbria compared to 29 the previous week.

Latest COVID-19 situation report.


11:22AM Friday, 16 October 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) staff update

Message from the Chief Executive, Katherine Fairclough

Colin Cox is having a well deserved break this week and in his absence I wanted to reflect on the increasing impact of Covid 19 across the County. You may have seen that the Barrow area is now classified as high risk. Coupled with continued increases in the infection rate across the county, remind us all that we need to be vigilant to mitigate the impact.

When you compare our rates we are still someway behind other parts of the region and we have an opportunity to keep it that way.

We have all worked very hard to ensure that our working practices are COVID-safe and we cannot let up. It is important that we all continue to take the same care outside of work and encourage those around us to do the same. It is the simple things - maintaining social distance, wearing a mask and washing hands that can make a difference.


Barrow now high risk for COVID-19

The Barrow Borough Council area has been classified as high risk for COVID-19 under the Government's new system. The new rules will come into force from Saturday.

The key change is that mixing indoors with people from outside your household or bubble will become illegal. Outside, the 'Rule of Six' will apply.

All other parts of Cumbria remain medium risk.

Full guidance on Gov.uk

For council employees there are no changes to current working arrangements as a result of this decision.

Supporting public awareness

All staff can play a role in supporting increased awareness of the new rules among service users and the general public.

A wide range of posters and social media graphics are available to download from the Public Health England website


Latest COVID-19 report for Cumbria

The number of new COVID-19 infections in the county has continued to increase, with all districts registering rises and cases doubling in Eden over the last week.

The headlines for the county are:

  • 592 new cases in Cumbria (+219 increase from 373 cases in previous week)
  • For the 6th consecutive week Barrow-in-Furness had the greatest number of new cases (+191 new cases), followed by South Lakeland (+153)
  • Barrow-in-Furness also had the highest rate of new cases for the 5th week running (+191 new cases = 285 new cases per 100k population), followed by South Lakeland (+153 new cases = 146 new cases per 100k population)
  • Both Barrow and South Lakeland's rates were higher than the national average (England = 139 new cases per 100k population)
  • The number of new cases increased from week 40 in all Cumbrian districts, with Barrow and South Lakeland experiencing the greatest numerical increases, while Eden experienced the greatest proportional increase (+105%)
  • Greatest number of new positive cases are those aged 15 to 29 years, however, there has been a recent increase in cases relating to older age groups.

Latest COVID-19 situation report for Cumbria


15:31PM Thursday, 8 October 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) staff update

Government asked to impose tighter restrictions in Barrow

Local leaders in Barrow have asked Government to impose new COVID -19 restrictions and bring the area in line with measures taken in the North East and Merseyside.

The request, which covers the Barrow Borough Council area, comes as the COVID -19 infection rate continues to accelerate and hospitalisations mount. The latest data shows the infection rate increasing to 200 per 100,000 and 54 COVID -19 patients in Furness General Hospital, putting it in the top 15 in England.

Leaders hope that by acting now the spread of the virus can be slowed, even stricter local lockdown laws avoided, and lives saved. 82 people in Barrow have died as a result of COVID-19 this year.

Read the news release for further information.

Comment from Cllr Peter Thornton, acting Chair of the Area Outbreak Board and Deputy Leader of Cumbria County Council

"It was the unanimous view of the Board and local political leaders that we need to act now and make this request to Government. The infection rate is rising at an alarming speed and we are now in equivalent position to where we were in March. This is not scaremongering. It's putting Barrow, its people and its economy, first and we need the whole community come together to make the difference. If we all pull together now we may be able to avoid a full lockdown in the future"


COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Cumbria

366 new COVID-19 cases were reported in week ending 2 October, up from 227 the previous week. Latest data for the current week, which is subject to revision, shows the upward trend continuing.

New positive cases increased in all but one Cumbria's districts.

Alongside the national rules, across the whole county the strong local public health advice that groups of six should be limited to people from no more than two households remains in place.

Read the weekly situation report (PDF 1MB)

Comment from Colin Cox, Cumbria's Director of Public Health

"Most of Cumbria is still behind other areas of the region in terms of the COVID-19 infection rate but the picture is changing rapidly and all areas are clearly heading in the wrong direction. The steps we've taken in relation to Barrow reflect the deep concern about the situation and the collective determination to get on top of it and avoid even stricter measures.

We're monitoring the rest of the county closely and are inevitably considering if and when it might be necessary to take further action to slow the spread. The best thing that people can do to avoid that scenario is follow the public health advice - limit your social contact, cover your face, wash your hands and be responsible. We all have a role to play in protecting each other."


17:00PM Thursday, 1 October 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) staff update

New COVID-19 advice agreed for all of Cumbria

Following a doubling of the new COVID-19 cases within Cumbria over the last week, new public health advice for the county has now been introduced.

By law in England people must not meet indoors or outdoors in groups of more than six people. In addition, from today people living in Cumbria are being strongly advised that groups of six should include people from no more than TWO households.

The new advice was agreed by local political leaders through the county's Area Outbreak Board, following recommendations from the multi-agency Health Protection Board. It will be reviewed on an weekly basis by the Health Protection Board.

The new advice is not law and the exemptions that apply to the national 'Rule of Six' still apply.

Colin Cox, Cumbria's Director of Public Health, said:

"The number of COVID-19 cases in the county has doubled in a week and hospitalisations are increasing. But we are not yet in the position of other areas in the north west and we have a small window of opportunity to act to slow the spread, protect our communities and local economy, and avoid becoming the next area in local lockdown.

We know that limiting contact between households can reduce transmission. The 'two-households' advice we're issuing today doesn't have the force of law behind it, but we're calling on everyone living in Cumbria to take it seriously and act accordingly. This is about local people taking responsible, proportionate, action to protect themselves, their families and their communities from this disease.

We can see now that the virus is spreading through the county with increasing speed, following the same pattern from the first wave, with almost all districts reporting increased cases. Without action we can expect the number of cases, disruption to schools and businesses, hospitalisations and ultimately deaths to continue to rise. Following the 'two-households' advice, alongside hand washing, face coverings and social distancing, can make a difference, but we need everyone to take heed and act."

Latest COVID-19 situation report for Cumbria

The report shows that:

  • A total of 11,358 tests carried out (positive/negative/void results), a slight decrease from the previous week
  • 209 new cases were reported in Cumbria (compared to 109 cases in previous week)
  • For the fourth consecutive week Barrow-in-Furness had the greatest number of new cases (+61 new cases), followed by Carlisle (+49 new cases)
  • Barrow-in-Furness also had the highest rate of new cases (+61 new cases = 91 new cases per 100k population), well above the national average (England = 57 new cases per 100k)
  • The number of new cases increased from the previous week in all Cumbrian districts except Eden, with Carlisle experiencing a particularly large increase
  • The greatest number of new positive cases are those aged 15 to 29 years, however, cases are increasing across most age groups
  • 19 care homes currently have positive COVID-19 cases, (including 5 homes with one or more residents testing positive)
  • 27 schools currently dealing with positive cases (1 confirmed case per setting), and 6 dealing with outbreaks (2 or more confirmed cases per setting)
  • 170 cases have been dealt with by local contact tracers, with 374 contacts traced.

11:43AM Monday, 28 September 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) staff update

NHS Test and Trace App: Guidance for staff in health and care settings

The national NHS Test and Trace App is now available to download on council corporate smartphones. The app is key part of the country's fight against COVID-19.

Simply tap on the App Catalog icon on your phone's home screen and you will find the app, then tap 'install'.

The app can also be downloaded to personal smartphones from the NHS website

The app will be used, alongside traditional contact tracing, to notify users if they come into contact with someone who later tests positive for coronavirus.


Guidance for employees working in health and care settings

If you are a health or care worker practicing infection prevention and control (IPC), including wearing correct PPE, you should pause contact tracing on the NHS Test and Trace app while at work. This is will help to avoid you being advised to self-isolate when it is not necessary.

You can pause contact tracing within the app by moving the contact tracing 'toggle' at the bottom of the app home screen.


14:19PM Friday, 25 September 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) staff update

NHS Test and Trace App now available to download

The national NHS Test and Trace App is now available to download on council corporate smartphones. The app is key part of the country's fight against COVID-19.

Simply tap on the App Catalog icon on your phone's home screen and you will find the app, then tap 'install'.

The app will be used, alongside traditional contact tracing, to notify users if they come into contact with someone who later tests positive for coronavirus.

The app will also help local authorities understand if the virus is spreading in their area, helping them to respond quickly to stop it spreading further and save lives. The app does this while protecting a user's anonymity. Nobody, including the government, will know who or where a particular user is.

What the app does

The app provides a number of functions:

  • Contact tracing - alerting you if you have been near other app users who have tested positive
  • Local alerts - lets you know the level of risk in your postcode district
  • Check-in - check-in to venues and get alerted if you may have come into contact with a positive case
  • Symptoms - check your symptoms
  • Test - book a test and get your results via the app
  • Isolate - keep track of your self-isolation and access advice

Find out more about the app


11:03AM Thursday, 24 September 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) staff update

NHS Test and Trace App now available to download

The national NHS Test and Trace App is now available. The app is key part of the country's fight against COVID-19.

All council employees are being strongly encouraged to download the app to their personal smartphones now.

The app is available on the Google Play Store and Apple App Store.

The app will be used, alongside traditional contact tracing, to notify users if they come into contact with someone who later tests positive for coronavirus.

The app will also help local authorities understand if the virus is spreading in their area, helping them to respond quickly to stop it spreading further and save lives. The app does this while protecting a user's anonymity. Nobody, including the government, will know who or where a particular user is.

What the app does

The app provides a number of functions:

  • Contact tracing - alerting you if you have been near other app users who have tested positive
  • Local alerts - lets you know the level of risk in your postcode district
  • Check-in - check-in to venues and get alerted if you may have come into contact with a positive case
  • Symptoms - check your symptoms
  • Test - book a test and get your results via the app
  • Isolate - keep track of your self-isolation and access advice

Find out more about the app

Availability on corporate smartphones provided by Cumbria County Council

The app will be available to download on corporate smartphones very shortly following a technical and security assessment by ICT. Look out for further updates soon.

Watch a video about the COVID-19 app


Colin Cox, Cumbria's Director of Public Health

"I'm strongly encouraging people to download the app. The more people who use it the more powerful it becomes in helping us stop the spread of this virus. I know it has been a long time coming and people may be sceptical, but the trials of the system elsewhere in the country have gone well and it's clear this is an important weapon in our fight against COVID-19. I want to stress that the app cannot be used to identify you, track you, check if you are self-isolating or by law enforcement, but it can make a significant difference to our ability to keep the virus under control."


14:26PM Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) staff update

Early indications this week suggest the number of coronavirus cases are continuing to increase.

The local increases reflect the national picture in England where cases are increasing in all areas.

Weekly COVID-19 situation update


To protect yourself and others, when you leave home you must remember to:

  • wash hands - keep washing your hands regularly
  • cover face - wear a face covering over your nose and mouth in enclosed spaces
  • make space - stay at least a metre away from people not in your household

Full guidance on Gov.uk


Symptoms and testing

Look out for one or more of the key symptoms - high temperature, new persistent cough or loss of sense of taste or smell - and only then get tested, or if advised to by a health professional.

Book tests at NHS.uk.

When is a cough a 'COVID-cough'?

With common coughs, colds and sneezes around it's tricky to know when and if you should get a COVID-19 test.

The current guidance is, whether or not you have common cold symptoms first, if you develop a high temperature or a cough it must be treated as a possible COVID-19 symptom, and you must isolate and get tested.

The NHS provides more detailed definitions for each of the three COVID-19 symptoms:

  • a high temperature - measured as 37.8°C or above. If you don't have a thermometer, feeling hot to the touch on your chest or back is a good indicator of a high temperature.
  • a new, continuous cough - this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual).
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste - this means you've noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

Most people with coronavirus have at least one of these symptoms.

Does your child have symptoms?

If you are not sure about school and what to do if your child has coronavirus symptoms, download our quick guide (PDF 203KB)


If you are meeting friends, make sure that you do so in groups of no more than 6

The 'rule of 6' was introduced on Monday 14 September, making it against the law to meet people you do not live with in a group larger than 6 (unless you are meeting as a household or support bubble).

The police will have the powers to enforce these legal limits, including to issue fines (fixed penalty notice) of £100, doubling for further breaches up to a maximum of £3,200.

A number of exceptions apply and full details can be found on the Gov.uk website.


Flu vaccine

If you are eligible for the flu vaccine this year - get ready to get it - that is the advice from family doctors and Cumbria's director of public health.

Cumbria's flu vaccination programme is a vital part of keeping people in our communities safe this winter.

Having a flu jab doesn't just protect you, it also protects those around you.

It is more important than ever to make sure those who are most vulnerable are protected from the flu.

This year there is likely to be a change to the way people receive their flu vaccine as health teams have to factor in social distancing and infection prevention measures to keep people safe.

Some surgeries will be offering drive through options, using local community centres or calling people for time specific appointments, rather than the traditional drop-in clinics.

Find out if you are eligible.


16:20PM Friday, 21 August 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) staff update

Important update on office working arrangements

As we continue to see society and businesses starting to work through the post lockdown restrictions - many staff are now asking what that means for their working arrangements now and in the future.

We appreciate that over the last few months we have many staff who have continued to work from a range of our buildings providing vital services - including Cumbria Care, Highways, and Fire to name a few.

We have also had a small selection of staff who due to their role or circumstances have had permission to continue to work from an office.

This update provides the latest situation for OFFICES and staff who are currently WORKING AT HOME.

Other work is also already underway to ensure that all of our other buildings and our wider working conditions for employees and customers is safe and appropriate. Such as making our six main library buildings safe and secure as well as ongoing improvements to other buildings and services such as Cumbria Care, Fire, Highways etc

Video about returning to the workplace


Home working

The first key message to you all today - is that our position and approach has not changed. If you can work at home you should continue to do so.

We appreciate that for those working at home many of you are still juggling work and life priorities, while embracing our new virtual ways of working.

Whilst the majority of staff have adapted well to these changes and wish to remain working from home where possible, some have not and are eager to return to the office, when it is safe to do so.

During the past few weeks we have been undertaken a programme of work on our 6 main offices and other locations to ensure these spaces are safe and suitable for staff to return to. Due to the changes being introduced, to support safety, the new workspaces will look and feel very different.

The notable differences are:

  • limited occupancy with greater spacing between desks to achieve social distancing but this will mean a reduced number of staff being able to attend the workplace safely
  • many staff will continue to be advised to work from home where possible and only attend the workplace for limited periods of time, to ensure we keep below the occupancy levels
  • clear directional floor markings and other signage to guide staff around the buildings
  • re-opening of meeting spaces for time limited, socially distanced face to face engagement with team colleagues
  • positioning print units and confidential waste points nearer to the entry for some offices to avoid staff needing to access 'deep' into the office
  • enhanced cleaning/ hand sanitiser stations and handwashing procedures.

Further building guidance, induction and e-learning packages will be shared directly with those staff who are identified as needing to return to the workplace - to ensure that any staff returning to the workplace area as well supported as possible at what we are sure will be an anxious time for some.

As you can imagine with a large and diverse workforce this will take some time to plan. To support this planning process we are working with Assistant Directors to identify those staff who need to return and when. We are also using the information provided in the recent staff questionnaire, which gave us a really helpful overview of how well people are currently coping working from home and their normal working arrangements pre-Covid.

The key highlights captured from the staff questionnaire were:

  • we had a huge 45% response rate from staff in scope
  • this amounted to 2,363 responses
  • 90%, or 2,143 have been working from home since lockdown commenced
  • 73% told us they have adapted very well or well to working from home
  • 4.76% told us they are not suited to working from home
  • reasons why home working has not been suitable for some included; child care responsibilities, nowhere suitable to work and feeling isolated from work colleagues
  • overview of staffing working arrangements for each of the 6 main offices, which is helping with the occupancy planning for each site.


Next phase

Our next phase is to identify those staff who need to return to the workplace for their job role, or personal reasons, for example where it is unsuitable for them to continue to work from home. We will then start to return wider groups of staff but on a phased and reduced basis to ensure we keep within our safe occupancy levels at each site.

From the questionnaire feedback we know that a large number of staff have adapted very well to working from home and would like to continue to work like this on a longer term basis. Where staff have adapted well, they have experienced a number of benefits including; less commuting time, reduced fuel costs, feeling more productive and a better work life balance. But we also note that for some staff it has not been as beneficial.

A further staff questionnaire is being finalised to help identify the future working arrangements for staff, including where staff may prefer to continue to work from home and this will be forwarded within the next couple of weeks

The approximate timeline for the return to the workplace is as follows:

August

  • Communication to Managers and Staff on approach
  • Analysis of Management led review and staff questionnaire responses
  • Reopening of office meeting space for face to face meetings in small groups, utilising room booking and new operating procedures to ensure ongoing safety
  • further staff questionnaire to understand future working arrangements, including ongoing home working

September

  • Ongoing manager and staff communication on approach
  • Finalisation of staff list who are categorised as requiring 'some' access to a council building when it is safe to do so once finalised this information will be shared with you via your manager
  • Transition of identified staff back to Council buildings, this will take place on a phased and carefully planned basis during the latter part of September and early October.

Please remember your health, safety and wellbeing is our top priority. This remains central to our transition planning approach so that any identified staff who need to return to work can do so safely - when the time is right.

We want to thank you all again for all you are doing to help the council continue to provide essential services to those who need us most.


Further information

If you have any questions about this process please email ask.stephen@cumbria.gov.uk.


14:51PM Tuesday, 11 August 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) staff update

Updated guidance on travel, car sharing and the wearing of face coverings when travelling

Cumbria County Council is committed to following all the latest national guidance in relation to COVID-19 and all the latest updates can be found at gov.uk

Here at the council we are also committed to keeping our workforce as safe as possible and as such we have now published new guidance on travel and on face masks and face coverings.


New guidance on travel

The aim of our new guidance is to reduce any risks to its lowest possible level - as an employee please follow the guidance:

  1. Travel separately wherever possible (avoid sharing a vehicle with others)
  2. Where travelling separately is not possible, practical or is a greater risk, then passengers should adhere to social distancing of 2 metres (by using large enough vehicle such as a larger car, people carrier or minibus, which enables 2m distancing to be achieved between driver and passenger(s) and still employing other supporting mitigation e.g. robust hygiene procedures and ventilation whilst travelling.
  3. Where 2 metres distancing is not viable in a vehicle, then 1 metre distancing with additional suitable risk mitigations should be followed (wear face coverings, ventilation, travel side by side or behind one another)


Vehicle sharing - public guidance

If a person normally shares a vehicle with someone from another household or support bubble for essential journeys, it is recommended to aim to find a different way to travel so that you can maintain social distancing (by walking, cycling or using own vehicle if possible).

Where persons need to travel with people outside of their household or support bubble:

  • share the transport with the same people each time wherever possible
  • keep to small groups of people at any one time
  • open windows for ventilation
  • travel side by side or behind other people, face away from each other where seating arrangements allow
  • consider seating arrangements to maximise distance between people in the vehicle
  • clean your car between journeys using standard cleaning products - make sure you clean door handles and other areas that people may touch
  • arrange for the driver and passengers to wear a face covering.


Face coverings when travelling on public transport

Since 15 June 2020, legislation states that travellers on public transport must wear a face covering when travelling in England.

In this context 'face coverings' relate to a standard 'non-medical' covering - these are not the same type of mask that is required in many medical professions - or close contact services such as care homes - these professions requires either Type 11R fluid repellent medical face masks, respirators or PPE (as specified by the government).

Face coverings of a non medical standard must be worn on:

  • bus or coach
  • train or tram
  • ferry, hovercraft or other vessel
  • aircraft
  • cable car

Examples of the requirement to wear a face covering does not apply to:

  • a child under the age of 11
  • passengers who remain within their private vehicle while on board public transport, (or example on a car ferry)
  • an employee of the public transport operator, when they are acting in the course of their employment
  • any other person providing services to the public transport operator, under arrangements made with the transport operator, who is providing those services
  • a constable or police community support officer acting in the course of their duty
  • an emergency responder such as a paramedic or fire officer acting in the course of their duty

Public Guidance also allows for face coverings not to be worn where there is a good reason not to. These include:

  • a physical or mental illness or impairment, or a disability that means a person cannot safely put on, wear or remove a face covering
  • if putting on, wearing or removing a face covering would cause severe distress
  • if travelling with, or providing assistance to, someone who relies on lip reading to communicate
  • if travelling to avoid injury or escape the risk of harm, and you do not have a face covering with you
  • if needed to remove it during a journey to avoid harm or injury or the risk of harm or injury to yourself or others
  • When needing to eat, drink, or take medication a person can remove a face covering (please note the above actions are not permitted anyway whilst driving)
  • When asked to remove a face covering by a police officer or other official (for example to check identification)
  • Children under 11 and those with certain disabilities will be exempt


Commuting

Under the existing legislation, an employer's duties to ensure the health, safety and welfare of its employees extend to the workplace or where an employee is acting in the course of their employment. With very limited exceptions, this does not include risks they may face while travelling to and from work. However the County Council recognises our duty of care in common law to take reasonable care for the health and safety of employees.

Although this duty is not commonly extended to an employee's commute (and under ordinary circumstances it would not be reasonable to do so) in the context of COVID-19 the County Council will aim to promote and help employees avoid Covid-19 risks relating to their commute. From a moral responsibility perspective we will promote national guidance within corporate and social media communication channels.


Further information

Links to further information:

If you have any specific questions relating to this please email healthandsafety@cumbria.gov.uk


15:45PM Monday, 27 July 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) staff update

Updated advice for staff who are shielding

The Government guidance for employees who are "shielding" is changing from 1 August 2020. Where possible staff who can, should continue to work from home. Those in the Clinically Extremely Vulnerable, Vulnerable and those shielding to protect a member of their household, who cannot work from home, can return to workplace from 1 August 2020 provided certain conditions have been met.

Government Advice

From 1 August, the government will pause shielding unless the transmission of COVID-19 in the community starts to rise significantly. The Government advice for those who are clinically extremely vulnerable includes the following:

  • stay at home as much as you can and continue to take precautions when you do go out. You can do this by washing your hands regularly, avoiding touching your face and keeping 2 metres away from people outside of your household or bubble wherever possible. (The 2 metre distance is maintained for shielding employees and not the new 1 metre distance).
  • You can go to work, as long as the workplace is COVID-secure - but carry on working from home if you can.


Returning to work information

Clinically Extremely Vulnerable employees

Visit the government website for the list of health conditions affecting this group of staff.

You will need to provide a copy of your NHS letters to your manager to support the new approach

Where possible you should continue to work from home

If you are unable to work from home, then your manager will:

  • ensure that the building you are working in is COVID secure
  • consider if you are able to meet the government guidance i.e. maintain a 2 metre distance whilst undertaking your role. This is not always possible, for example when providing care in a residential home, or working as an operational fire fighter

If you are able to meet the government guidance i.e. maintain 2 metre distance, then you may be able to return to work following an individual risk assessment. Your manager will discuss the risk assessment with you and may seek further advice from Occupational Health, to determine what measures may need to put in place to mitigate any risk. You should not return to work until the individual risk assessment has been undertaken.

If you are not able to meet the government guidance i.e. maintain a 2 metre distance, then you may not be able to return to the workplace to undertake your normal role until further guidance is issued. You should remain at home. Your situation will be reviewed and alternative options considered so you can undertake alternative work/duties.

Employees who have been shielding to protect a household member

If you have been shielding to protect a member of your household then you no longer need to shield yourself and you can return to work following discussions with your manager. You should continue to do what you can to support your family member by carefully following the government guidance above.

Employees who are in the vulnerable group

Visit the government website for the list of health conditions affecting this group of staff.

Employees who are in the vulnerable group who have been self-isolating can now return to the workplace. You should talk to your manager about arranging your return. You should continue to follow the government guidance above.


15:04PM Friday, 17 July 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) staff update

Following staff feedback and questions here are some key updates for you

Holidays and quarantine arrangements

In June the Government introduced a requirement for people entering the UK to self-isolate for a period of 14 days. From 10 July this rule has now been updated and anyone returning from a country on the government's 'travel corridor list' will no longer be required to self-isolate for 14 days. However Coronavirus regulations mean that you must continue to self-isolate for 14 days if you return to the UK from a country outside the agreed list of countries.

Find all the very latest guidance at gov.uk

Staff will be aware that guidance relating to travel is changing on a regular basis and therefore you should make sure you understand the implications of any planned travel before you decide whether or not to travel abroad. Where you have travel planned you should discuss this in the first instance with your line manager, for awareness and to discuss the options outlined below, should the circumstances and guidance change, especially in relation to self-isolation.

Ultimately it is a personal decision if you choose to go to a country where quarantine will be required, and you will need to take into account any potential requirements for self-isolation on your return.

For those who are required to self-isolate on return the emphasis will continue to be on working from home, and where this is not possible you should discuss with your line manager the following options:

  • take additional paid annual leave (from your usual leave allowance)
  • take unpaid annual leave
  • make up the 14 days' leave over an agreed period of time
  • undertake redeployment to alternative duties, which can be carried out at home, but this will be subject to service requirements and cannot be guaranteed.

Update on support for working at home (for those that this applies to)

Please remember that if you are working at home you must undertake a home safety self-assessment (PDF 774KB) please also make sure you have undertaken the new Health and Safety e-learning course.

You can also borrow equipment to support you working at home safely such as an office chair or second monitor.

Financial support for working at home

As many staff continue to work from home we are receiving queries about whether there are any allowances available in respect of this. There are currently no allowances payable by the council but HMRC have said that they will consider claims from staff working at home during the pandemic if their workplace has been closed. Staff can submit a claim for tax relief on £6 per week due to extra costs due to having to work from home. As this is tax relief it is only applicable if your income is higher than the current standard Personal Allowance of £12,500, which is the amount of income you do not have to pay tax on. You can make a claim by completing an online P87 form. You'll be asked for your employer's name and PAYE reference (which you can find on your payslip or P60), and your job title. For postal P87s, you'll also need your national insurance number. The key section for filling in is titled 'Using your home as an office. You claim retrospectively on expenses so, if you're only at home due to Coronavirus, the advice is to wait for a few months then make the whole claim at once. Your tax code will likely be adjusted so you pay less tax over the year, as opposed to you getting a direct refund

As part of the planning and preparation for how the council will operate going forward we are reviewing decisions around potential allowances however no decisions have been made yet.


10:42AM Tuesday, 14 July 2020

COVID-19: Important update on working arrangements

As we continue to see the easing of lockdown restrictions some staff who have been working from home are now asking if they can return to working from a Council building.

The first key message to you all today - is that our position and approach has not changed and neither has the official government guidance.

If you can work at home you should continue to do so.

We are currently reviewing the arrangements that we will need for the longer term. While the lockdown restrictions have eased Covid-19 continues to have a significant impact on our everyday life and to pose a risk to health and well-being. The health, safety and well-being of our staff, customers and members remains our highest priority. We are delivering a prioritised programme of adaptations to selected Council premises that we know need to be open in order to deliver critical services. These are being delivered in line with national guidance and will enable those staff who need to return to working from a Council building to do so safely.

We also recognise that throughout Covid-19 we have had some staff who have remained working from their workplace, providing valuable services to the people of Cumbria. With so few staff in our building we were able to do this safely but as we see a few more staff returning to the workplace the adaptations are now required to help keep everyone safe who may require-access to one of our buildings.

Regarding staff who may need access going forward, we are currently working to finalise the list of job roles that will need to be based or partly based in a Council building going forward. The plans will be shaped by a recent management led audit and also the staff survey that many of you have recently completed. Your responses have provided rich information to help inform our plans going forward to ensure that staff have the support they need to work successfully whether this continues to be remotely or through return to a council premises. We had a great response to this survey, the results are now being analysed and we will share these results with you shortly.


12:30AM Thursday, 9 July 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) staff update

You were invited to complete a questionnaire on the 30 June to help identify your working arrangement needs. The questionnaire is open until tomorrow, if you have not done so already, please take the time to complete the survey.

The questionnaire will help identify where you have been working during Covid, and if you have been working from home, how this has felt for you.

This will help us identify if you are able to continue to work from home, or if there is a need for you to return to the workplace, based upon either:

  • the functional nature of your role and/or
  • your wellbeing or personal circumstances.

Once complete the results of this staff survey will be compared with the management led review to ensure we have the right working arrangements and support for everyone in our organisation.

Should you have any queries regarding either the questionnaire or our forthcoming plans please let us know by emailing ask.stephen@cumbria.gov.uk


16:25PM Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) staff update

Have your say on draft Outbreak Management Plan

Today we have published Cumbria's draft Outbreak Control Plan. The plan describes Cumbria's approach to managing outbreaks of COVID-19.

It is in 3 parts:

  • Part 1 describes the overall strategy and approach being taken
  • Part 2 sets out the detail of the operating procedures that each bit of the local system will follow
  • Part 3 lists key contact details that may be required by people responding to incidents and outbreaks.

Parts 1 and 2 are published here for consultation:

People have until 31 July to provide feedback on the plan. In the interim the plan is live.

Following review of consultation feedback a final plan will be adopted by Cumbria's Local Resilience Forum and will form part of the overall Cumbria Emergency Plan framework.

The primary responsibility for the production of this plan lies with the County Council as the upper tier authority.


Message from Colin Cox, Cumbria's Director of Public Health

"Over 400 people have died in Cumbria as a resulted of COVID-19 infection. It has been the largest mass fatality event the county has seen since WWII.

Because people have followed the rules, observed social distancing and taken steps to protect their communities, we now have a low rate of infection in the county. The evidence from elsewhere, in the UK and internationally, is that we must continue to be on our guard. This highly infectious disease has not been eradicated and could spread again quickly if we do not take precautions.

We must balance this with the vital need to reopen our economy and other institutions and allow people to live their lives as normally as possible.

But returning to how things were pre-COVID-19 is not possible if we want to prevent a second wave of infection, further damaging lockdowns and more deaths.

To keep Cumbria safe, and our economy and schools open, it is critical that people continue to follow the rules - observe social distancing, practice good hygiene, wear face masks where appropriate, get tested if you have symptoms and self-isolate if necessary or if you are asked to by contact tracers.

By all working together, following the approach set out in our Outbreak Control Plan, we can ensure Cumbria is COVID-secure and keep people safe."


Find out the latest on the COVID-19 situation in Cumbria

We are now publishing a weekly update on the COVID-19 situation in Cumbria, bringing together local and national data to provide an overview of what is happening locally.

More information is available on the Cumbria Observatory website.


10:45AM Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) staff update

COVID-19: Important update on working arrangements

As we begin to see some easing of lockdown restrictions - many staff are now asking what that means for their working arrangements now and in the future.

The first key message to you all today - is that our position and approach has not changed.

If you can work at home you should continue to do so.

But we need your input to help us in our next stage in our plans and potential changes to our working practices.


Longer term plans

As a result of lockdown we have identified many benefits to our new ways of working and action is already underway to look at our experiences through COVID-19 and see what learning we can take from it to develop a brand new way of working.

The opportunity is here to rethink and re-imagine a new future, a future where:

  • We have world class digital connectivity
  • Communities make time for, and support, one another
  • The climate is protected and we actively support sustainable, greener travel
  • Work is rewarding and our jobs have a great work life balance.

We want to look at a brand new world of work - one where we can build on our ability to work flexibly and embrace digital solutions to support us to work in different ways that suit our workforce and also how we can deliver services differently.

This builds on the work the council was already doing in this area, but as a result of COVID-19 it means much of this change has been fast tracked due to the unusual circumstances we have all found ourselves in.

However we also know that this has not been possible for all staff and that there may now be the need for a few 'identified' staff to return safely to their workplace. And for those staff who have continued to work from their workplace we need to ensure that these spaces continue to be safe and that they support the current situation of stay alert - stay safe and that any new arrangements support our responsibilities around safety and social distancing.


Our current plans regarding changes to our working practices

To achieve a safe and sensible transition for the 'few'* staff who will need to operate from one of our buildings - the council has been developing a plan to oversee this.

This will only apply to those staff who cannot continue to work from home - any return will be based on this return being essential to your role and/or your wellbeing. Any exceptions will need to be approved by your service Assistant Director.

Our approach will be undertaken in a two stage approach:

  1. We have already commenced the management led review - involving all senior managers in a process to review their teams' working arrangements and make recommendations for any change that might be required
  2. The next stage is our staff engagement process - a process of communication and engagement with all employees to ensure that any proposed working arrangements meet the needs of our employees

To support this approach a range of work is already underway including:

  • The development of return to work guidance and support
  • A review of all our workspaces and a programme of work to ensure that all these spaces are safe and used appropriately - this will be supported with a return to work handbook, guidance, induction and clear communication
  • Where necessary individual risk assessments will also take place

All staff with Cumbria County Council email addresses will be sent a personalised email inviting you to complete the staff questionnaire to help identify your working arrangement needs.

All staff are invited to complete the questionnaire by Friday 10th July. The questionnaire will help identify where you have been working during Covid, and if you have been working from home, how this has felt for you.

This will help us identify if you are able to continue to work from home, or if there is a need for you to return to the workplace, based upon either:

  • the functional nature of your role and/or
  • your wellbeing or personal circumstances.

Once complete the results of this staff survey will be compared with the management led review to ensure we have the right working arrangements and support for everyone in our organisation.

Should you have any queries regarding either the questionnaire or our forthcoming plans, or you think you should have received a personalised email inviting you to complete the questionnaire but it hasn't arrived please contact ask.stephen@cumbria.gov.uk


11:17AM Friday, 26 June 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) staff update

Corporate safety information update - Alcohol Based Hand Sanitiser

Following widespread news coverage claiming that hand sanitiser kept in vehicles can pose a fire risk, the National Fire Chiefs Council has refuted these reports and confirmed there have been no cases of such fires in the UK.

NHS Property Services issued a warning about what it considered to be the dangers of keeping sanitisers in vehicles to its front line staff. It has now retracted this advice following further evidence.

Please be assured that hand sanitiser will not combust if left in a car - even on the hottest day. For hand sanitiser to cause a fire it would need to come into contact with a spark.

Hand sanitiser is very important in the fight against the spread of COVID-19, therefore it is is essential we debunk this myth. You are advised to store hand sanitisers in vehicles safely, which includes keeping bottles closed and out of direct sunlight. such as in the glove box. This will ensure the contents do not deteriorate and means bottles cannot be magnified by the sun. Sanitiser should also be kept away from naked flame.

The facts:

  • The possibility of alcohol-based hand sanitiser gels causing fire in vehicles is very low
  • The alcohol in the sanitiser would need to be open to the air in order to evaporate, if the container was sealed it is unlikely that alcohol would escape into the atmosphere
  • The boiling points of the materials in hand sanitiser would need very high temperatures inside a vehicle to vaporise these common alcohol products
  • The vapours would need to reach a 'Lower Explosive Limit' in order to form an ignitable mixture; this would result in a "flash" when ignited rather than produce a sustained fire likely to ignite combustible materials


Remember: hand hygiene is one of the most effective methods to stop the spread of COVID-19 following indirect contact (picking up the virus up by touching contaminated surfaces and objects).

For more information, please speak to your Corporate Health and Safety Team by emailing healthandsafety@cumbria.gov.uk


10:43AM Thursday, 25 June 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) staff update

Cumbria County Council Services updates

On Tuesday 23 June, the Government set out further changes to lockdown measures in England to enable people to see more of their friends and family, help businesses get back on their feet and get people back in their jobs.

What this means for council services

Plans for the reopening, or wider opening, of council services are currently being reviewed in light of the new guidance and forthcoming changes to social distancing requirements.

Work is already underway and managers are in discussion with their teams about when services can recommence safely. Details of this will be shared as soon as it is available.

Plans to ease guidance for those shielding

The Government has announced that those shielding from coronavirus will be advised they can spend more time outside their homes from Monday 6 July.

From Monday 6 July, clinically extremely vulnerable people will be able to spend time outdoors in a group of up to 6 people including those outside of their household, while maintaining social distancing. Those who are clinically extremely vulnerable and live alone or are single parents with children will also be able to create a 'support bubble' with one other household of any size, following the same rules already in place for the wider population.

From Saturday 1 August, the guidance will then be relaxed so clinically extremely vulnerable will no longer be advised to shield. Those who need to work and cannot do so from home will be able to return to work as long as their workplace is coronavirus secure.

If you have any specific queries in relation to this advice you can contact the People Management Team using the new People Management portal or by telephone on 01228 221231.

Clinically extremely vulnerable people should continue to follow strict social distancing measures, taking particular care to minimise contact with others outside their household and practice good, frequent handwashing.

The Government will be writing to all individuals on the Shielded Patient List with updated information on shielding advice and the ongoing support that will be available to them.

The updated guidance for those classed as Clinically Extremely Vulnerable will be published on 6 July and 1 August as these measures come into force.

More on the government's latest announcement

Useful links:


Further changes to lockdown measures in England

From Saturday 4 July, the Government has announced that pubs, restaurants and hairdressers will be able to reopen, providing they adhere to COVID Secure guidelines.

From the same date, the PM has set out that two households will be able to meet up in any setting with social distancing measures, and that people can now enjoy staycations in England with the reopening of accommodation sites.

In order to begin restoring the arts and cultural sector, some leisure facilities and tourist attractions may also reopen, if they can do so safely - this includes outdoor gyms and playgrounds, cinemas, museums, galleries, theme parks and arcades, as well as libraries, social clubs, places of worship and community centres.

Following a review, the PM has also set out that where it is not possible to stay two metres apart, guidance will allow people to keep a social distance of 'one metre plus'. This means staying one metre apart, plus mitigations which reduce the risk of transmission.

While the infection rate continues to fall, the PM has said that the public must continue to follow social distancing guidelines to keep coronavirus under control. The Government will keep all measures under constant review and will not hesitate to apply the handbrake, or reverse measures, should the virus begin to run out of control.

Further guidance from Gov.uk


Social distancing and what the public can and can't do after 4 July

The Cabinet Office have produced an FAQ document outlining what the public can and can't do after 4 July.

The document covers the following topics:

  • Gatherings, public spaces, and activities
  • Vulnerable groups, shielding, 70 year olds and over, and care homes
  • Going to work / Closed businesses / Safer spaces
  • Workers' rights
  • Public Transport
  • Schools and Childcare
  • Borders / international visitors
  • Devolved administrations

New guidance that that outlines how the public in England should socially distance from the 4 July has also been published.


13:57PM Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) staff update

COVID 19- Important update on working arrangements

As we begin to see some easing of lockdown restrictions - many staff are now asking what that means for their working arrangements now and in the future.

The first key message to you all today - is that our position and approach has not changed.

If you can work at home you should continue to do so.

But we wanted to update you on our long term plans to build a better future and also on our current plans regarding any potential changes to our working practices.


Our long term plans

As a result of lockdown we have identified many benefits to our new ways of working and action is already underway to look at our experiences through COVID-19 and see what learning we can take from it to develop a brand new way of working.

During COVID-19 we have created an environment that provides a focus and sense of pace around keeping people safe. Communities actively supporting one another, elected members, services and all sectors of society embraced digital solutions and we saw people adapt and flex to work and live in new ways.

As a result many people have now begun to consider and imagine a better life, a different way of working and a stronger, more resilient future.

The opportunity is here to rethink and re-imagine a new future, a future where:

  • We have world class digital connectivity
  • Communities make time for, and support, one another
  • The climate is protected and we actively support sustainable, greener travel
  • Work is rewarding and our jobs have a great work life balance.

We want to look at a brand new world of work - one where we can build on our ability to work flexibly and embrace digital solutions to support us to work in different ways that suit our workforce and also how we can deliver services differently.

This builds on the work the council was already doing in this area, but as a result of COVID-19 it means much of this change has been fast tracked due to the unusual circumstances we have all found ourselves in.

However we also know that this has not been possible for all staff and that there may now be the need for a few 'identified' staff to return safely to their workplace. And for those staff who have continued to work from their workplace we need to ensure that these spaces continue to be safe and that they support the current situation of stay alert - stay safe and that any new arrangements support our responsibilities around safety and social distancing.



Our current plans regarding changes to our working practices

To achieve a safe and sensible transition for the 'few'* staff who will need to operate from one of our buildings - the council has been developing a plan to oversee this.

*This will only apply to those staff who cannot continue to work from home - any return will be based on this return being essential to your role and/or your wellbeing. Any exceptions will need to be approved by your service AD.

Our approach will be undertaken in a two stage approach:

  1. A management led review - involving all senior managers in a process to review their teams working arrangements and make recommendations for any change that might be required
  2. A staff engagement process - a process of communication and engagement with all employees to ensure that any proposed working arrangements meet the needs of our employees

To support this approach a range of work is already underway including:

  • The development of return to work guidance and support
  • A review of all our workspaces and a programme of work to ensure that all these spaces are safe and used appropriately - this will be supported with a return to work handbook, guidance, induction and clear communications

The approximate timeline for this work is as follows:

June

  • Communication to Managers and Staff on approach
  • Management led review
  • Development of return to work handbook and guidance
  • Risk assessment, reconfiguration and clear signage implemented in 'phase one' of our buildings - this will include the six main office buildings and other buildings currently in use by some staff such as fire stations, care homes and back office areas that are in use in libraries for example

July

  • Wider staff engagement and communication
  • Finalisation of a staff list who are categorised as 'essential' and who may require 'some' access to a council building when it is safe to do so
  • Transition of identified priority staff back to Council buildings, this will take place on a phased and carefully planned basis.

Please remember your health, safety and wellbeing is our top priority. A lot of thought is being given so that any identified staff who need to return to work can do so safely - when the time is right.

We want to thank you all again for all you are doing to help the council continue to provide essential services to those who need us most.

If you have any questions about this process please email ask.stephen@cumbria.gov.uk.


15:10PM Thursday, 11 June 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) staff update

Important information about COVID-19 Contact Tracing

Contact tracing involves identifying and contacting anyone who has been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. These contacts are then given advice about what action they should take to self-isolate and prevent further infection spread. In Cumbria we have developed a local approach to contact tracing to work alongside the national NHS Test and Trace system.

What to do if you are contacted by the local or national NHS contact tracing service

Please follow the guidance recommended by the tracing team. If you are advised to self-isolate or undertake a Covid-19 test then please inform your manager.

Testing is available for anyone over the age of 5 who has Covid-19 symptoms. Details of how to get tested.

Managers should ensure that the details are recorded on iTrent

Managers - to record self isolating

Through People Manager under Other Absence, the codes are as follows:

  • Covid-19 Self-Isolating - Unable to Work
  • Covid-19 Self-Isolating - Restricted Duties
  • Covid-19 Self-Isolating - Working Normally

Staff - to record test results

Please inform your manager of your results whether positive or negative and your manager will advise on the next steps.

Once you have your results you should contact your line manager. We are keen to know who has tested positive/negative. Please let your manager know the:

  • date
  • type of test
  • result

They will then ensure that the results are inputted onto your record in iTrent (HR system) and the details will then be automatically inputted into the Occupational Health system (eOPAS). This will help with business continuity planning in the future.

When should people contact NHS Test and Trace?

People should call NHS Test and Trace on 119 if they develop COVID-19 symptoms:

  • high temperature - this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
  • new, continuous cough (New: means a cough they've not had before, or if they usually have a cough, it has got worse, Continuous: means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours)
  • loss or change to your sense of smell or taste

OR

  • they are informed they have tested positive for COVID-19.

We understand that it can be difficult to navigate all of the information and to be clear about next steps. Find out more from the NHS.

Cumbria's local approach to contact tracing.


Return to work - shielding / self-isolating

Staff in the shielding group have been advised to remain at home (shielding) by the government until 30 June. As the lockdown eases the advice is changing and staff may be allowed to leave their homes more from 30 June 2020, however, the advice at present is unlikely to mean they can return back to the workplace straight away. Further advice will be issued following any government announcements.

For those who have been self-isolating for 12 weeks, when this period ends, it also does not mean they can return to work immediately. Managers will need to seek advice from Occupational Health and Health and Safety teams about undertaking individual risk assessments to ensure their return to work is safely managed. A procedure is currently being put in place to help manage this process. Staff should not return to work without discussing the risk assessment with their manager.


14:58PM Friday, 29 May 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) staff update

Recording Coronavirus test results - reminder

If you have had a Coronavirus test please remember to inform your manager of your results, whether positive or negative and your manager will advise you on the next steps.

We are keen to know who has tested positive/negative, as this will help with business continuity planning in the future.

Please let your manager know:

  • Date of the test
  • Type of test
  • Result

They will then ensure that the results are inputted onto your record in iTrent (HR system) and the details will then be automatically inputted into the Occupational Health system (eOPAS).

Coronavirus related absences

You are also reminded to keep your manager informed if your circumstances change due to Coronavirus. All absences should be recorded on iTrent.

Managers should be record absences on iTrent as follows

1. For confirmed and suspected cases of Coronavirus they should be recorded in the normal absence recording method as:

  • Coronavirus - confirmed case - Where a team member is unwell with a confirmed case of Coronavirus
  • Coronavirus - suspected case - Where a team member is unwell with a suspected case of Coronavirus

If a suspected case becomes confirmed, you will need to change the reason for the absence to "Coronavirus - confirmed case"

2. For other Coronavirus related absences they should be recorded through People Manager using the following codes:-

  • Covid-19 caring responsibilities - This option should be selected if the employee's normal care arrangements are not available (i.e. school closure, carer unable to attend) and the employee is unable to work from home.
  • Covid-19 awaiting redeployment - This option should be selected if the employee is available for redeployment into another role due to their building being closed or current work is not sustainable etc. Further guidance will be provided on this in due course.
  • Covid-19 redeployed - This option should be selected if the employee is redeployed into another role. Further guidance will be provided on this in due course.
  • Covid-19 self-isolating- unable to work - This option should be selected if an employee is directed by health professionals or following government guidelines to self-isolate or dependants have coronavirus symptoms but they are unable to work from home. Self-isolation should not be recorded as a sickness absence.
  • Covid-19 self-isolating - restricted duties - This option should be selected if an employee is directed by health professionals or following government guidelines to self-isolate or dependants have coronavirus symptoms and they are unable to conduct the majority of their duties from home. Self-isolation should not be recorded as a sickness absence.
  • Covid-19 self-isolating - working normally - This option should be selected if an employee is directed by health professionals or following government guidelines to self-isolate or dependants have coronavirus symptoms and they are able to do the majority of their duties from home. Self-isolation should not be recorded as a sickness absence.

The reasons may change over time and managers should keep these up to date and add new records if appropriate.

Further questions and answers can be seen on the Frequently Asked Questions pages

If you have any specific queries in relation to this advice you can contact the People Management Team using the new People Management portal or by telephone on 01228 221231.

Out of hours property contact

Should anyone have any property related emergency calls which are usually raised through the out of hours service operated on our behalf by Atalian Servest, they should, until further notice phone them through directly to 01228 221106 and follow the options/voicemail message to be able to contact the Surveyor on call who will deal with your query.

The Surveyor on call this weekend is Sandy Sanderson - 07766 397446, who will be able to assist. The old out of hours number will not be answered.


14:47PM Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Important update

Please continue to work at home - if you have been doing so to date

For those of you who have been working at home it is very important that you continue to do so.

The recent advice from government DOES NOT change the council's current working arrangements.

Our approach remains the same - if you can work at home you should continue to do so.

Only if your work cannot be done from home - eg Cumbria Care and Highways - should you be travelling to your work base. The only exceptions to this are if you already had a separate arrangement in place with your manager to attend an office - for example if you work on the ICT helpdesk or in the Service Centre. Only in these circumstances is it ok to carry on with this arrangement and this is still subject to your line manager's ongoing agreement.

Work is now underway to look at how we could arrange a safe return for employees to the workplace - in the coming weeks and months - but the priority for the council has to be the health, safety and wellbeing of its employees. To ensure this there will need to be significant social distancing measures put in place - which means that each building will only be able to accommodate a very low number of staff in a safe way and adaptations will need to be made. As such you will appreciate that a significant amount of work is still to be done to make any future office environment, as safe as possible.

A corporate working group is in place and a series of workplace assessments have already taken place to look at how many staff could potentially return to workplaces in a safe and phased approach. Each Directorate/service area are also considering how their services and working arrangements need to be delivered going forward and they will also determine which roles need to be office based for some or a proportion of the working day.

We will ensure that you are kept informed as this work progresses and in the meantime your Senior Managers and Assistant Directors will provide more information over the next week as we receive further clarity from Government on relaxing of lockdown measures.

All services and working arrangements will need to be delivered in compliance within the Public Health England Guidance, Health and Safety legislation and Government guidance now and in the future.

Please take care and stay safe.


14:06PM Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) staff update

Accident, incident and near miss reporting

Although we are in very unusual times our essential services continue to operate in these challenging circumstances. It is still important that accidents, incidents, near misses and ill health are being reported and investigated through normal Cumbria County Council procedures.

All Managers have been asked to communicate with their teams to reiterate this message. You are encouraged to continue to report health and safety issues, concerns accidents, incidents and near misses. Managers should also ensure that appropriate investigation, follow-up actions and debriefs are undertaken following reported incidents to prevent them reoccurring and also to ensure you have appropriate support during this time.

Many are facing increased frustrations from those they support in our community which can impact on behaviours and therefore it is important that you understand that despite this the County Council are clear that we take a zero tolerance approach in terms of violence, abuse or threats to our workforce.

If you have any further questions in relation to accident or incident reporting or investigation please contact your line manager in the first instance or email the Health and Safety Team at healthandsafety@cumbria.gov.uk. Queries will be triaged to the appropriate Health and Safety colleague.

RIDDOR reporting: COVID-19 RIDDOR advice

The following update provides supplementary details specifically for staff who may be diagnosed with COVID-19 in light of recent Health and Safety Executive (HSE) updated guidance.

In some limited circumstances, where an individual has either been exposed to the coronavirus or contracted COVID 19 as a direct result of their work, those instances may now be reportable under the RIDDOR regulations.

General information on reporting accidents, incidents and near misses including RIDDOR incidents and occupational diseases.

The prevalence of transmission of coronavirus has increased in the general population across the UK over recent months. The HSE recognise that it will be very difficult for employers to establish whether or not any infection in an individual was contracted as a result of their work. Therefore investigation into such reported occurrences must take place to inform this.

Cumbria County Council recognise their clear health and safety duties and responsibilities under the Health and Safety at Work Act and relevant supporting regulations. Under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) there is a requirement to protect workers who come into contact with infectious micro-organisms as a direct consequence of their work. However, COSHH does not apply where employees are exposed to a disease which is in general circulation and which may happen to be present in the workplace as well.

However the HSE has updated its guidance in relation to RIDDOR Reportable COVID-19 incidents.

The criteria for reporting must show reasonable evidence suggesting that a work- related exposure was the likely cause of the disease. This would be for confirmed cases of COVID-19 by a suitably qualified medical practitioner. They may indicate the significance of any work- related factors when communicating their diagnosis. See below for NON RIDDOR and RIDDOR related examples.

NON-RIDDOR reportable instances of COVID-19

Instances of COVID-19 that are not reportable through ESafety/ RIDDOR include:

  • when COVID-19 is suspected but not confirmed
  • when COVID-19 has been verified by a registered medical practitioner, but it was not deemed to be contracted via work-related exposure
  • the lost time incurred due to self-isolation for suspected COVID-19 (but not a confirmed) instance.

The above NON-RIDDOR cases can still be reported through normal ITrent reporting procedures.

RIDDOR reportable instances of COVID-19

Work-related ill health can be reported via ESafety

The current county council accident/incident form can be used to report confirmed work related COVID-19 incidents. The appropriate form selections are shown below and those reporting should ensure that incident descriptions are accurate, factual and detail COVID-19 or Coronavirus.

For confirmed cases of work related COVID-19 indicated below a RIDDOR report will be submitted to the HSE by the Corporate Health and Safety Team following investigation and discussion with Line Managers where there is reasonable evidence confirming that a work-related exposure was the likely cause of the disease.

  • Accident Category (ill health or fatality) - For an incident to be reportable as a death due to occupational exposure to a biological agent, in this case COVID-19, there must be reasonable evidence suggesting that a work-related exposure to coronavirus was the likely cause of death. A doctor may indicate the significance of any work- related factors when communicating the cause of death.
  • Accident type- (Any disease attributed to exposure of Biological Agent) - For this type of incident to be RIDDOR reportable again there must be reasonable evidence suggesting that a work-related exposure was the likely cause of the worker contracting COVID 19. Such instances could include, for example, frontline health and social care workers who have been involved in providing care/ treatment to known cases of COVID 19, who subsequently develop the disease and there is reasonable evidence suggesting that a work related exposure was the likely cause of the disease.
  • Accident severity - This will most likely be RIDDOR Specified Disease (See above) The HSE also state that incidents can be reported as RIDDOR Specified Dangerous Occurrence however it is unlikely any CCC incidents would fall into this category as we are not handling viral agents) such incidents must result (or could have resulted) in the release or escape of the coronavirus. An example could include a vial known to contain the coronavirus being smashed in a laboratory, leading to people being exposed)
  • Level of investigation- 3 (High Level) - RIDDOR Reportable incidents should be Level 3 indicating that a high level accident/incident investigation approach would be taken involving management, Senior Management with the support of a relevant Corporate Health and Safety Manage

Latest government guidance

Coronavirus has been listed as a notifiable disease under the Health Protection (Notification) Regulations 2010. This change in law requires GPs to report all cases of COVID 19 to Public Health England.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has also produced general information on RIDDOR reporting in relation to COVID-19.


Further questions and answers can be seen on the employee Frequently Asked Questions web page.

If you have any specific queries in relation to this advice or accident/incident or near miss reporting in general please contact the Health and Safety Team by Email to healthandsafety@cumbria.gov.uk or by telephone on 01228 221616.


15:30PM Wednesday, 6 May 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) staff update

Please help us spread the word...Household Waste Recycling Centres will open soon, but for essential use only.

You may be interested to know that all 14 Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs) in Cumbria are reopening on Tuesday 12 May.

This follows updated guidance from the Government which states that a visit to a HWRC is acceptable under the current travel and social distancing measures but only where you can't continue to safely store your additional waste and recycling safely at home.

We're expecting the sites to be busy in the first few days and weeks of reopening and would ask that wherever possible you continue to make use of your kerbside waste and recycling collections. A number of district councils have also restarted their garden waste collections so this should help avoid an unnecessary visit to the HWRC site too.

Please be advised that if you do have to visit a HWRC that there will be a number of site restrictions in place which aim to keep both staff and visitors safe. Ideally only one person should attend, but if one additional passenger has to come, they must be from the same household. The HWRC operatives will also not be able to assist you as they would usually do. No vans, trailers or commercial type vehicles will be permitted access.

We would be grateful if you could share this message with your friends and family too so that they also only take their waste to a HWRC at this current time if absolutely necessary. This will help prevent the sites being overwhelmed and help to keep everyone safe.

For the latest news and information follow the county council's social media channels or visit the Rubbish and Recycling web pages.


15:21PM Tuesday, 5 May 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) staff update

Working from home - Think Safe - Be Safe!

In line with national guidance the council is continuing to support social distancing and encourage as many people as possible to work from home.

Many colleagues have now adapted to these new ways of working however as the weeks turn into months we thought it would be timely to remind you of some top tips, useful advice and guidance to help you get the best from working at home and help you stay safe and comfortable.

Also there are some updates in relation to working at home that we feel you will be interested in following a number of staff comments and requests.

You said - we did!

1. Can I have equipment to help me work at home?

Following the recent staff survey a few staff have raised the question about borrowing an office chair or additional equipment to help with working at home.

Chairs - Some of you may have already had permission through your line manager to borrow an office chair if you do not have anything suitable at home - it is important to us that while working at home you put your health and safety first. Given that we are now reaching an extended period of time working in this new way, we have set up a ticket system for chair requests through our Business support request system. You can submit a request for an office chair to be loaned for use at home on the portal and the team will do their best to arrange this wherever possible. If you have already loaned a chair can you also register this equipment loan via the portal retrospectively so that we have a record.

It is important when using a laptop to be able to set this up safely when working for periods longer than an hour. The laptop should be raised so that it is level with your eyes, and if you normally use a mouse and separate keyboard in the office, these can be loaned for use at home.

If you do need to loan equipment or feel that additional items are required, you need to seek the approval of your line manager who can then raise a ticket on the ICT portal. For a very small number of roles, secondary screens are required in addition to your laptop, and these should be requested for home use by exception and on a case by case basis given the fittings required to ensure they are affixed safely to a stand. Where ICT equipment is approved for home use, it will be necessary for individuals to collect, transport and set up the equipment in their home. If problems occur with the equipment, it will need to be returned by the user to ICT for assessment and also for the annual PAT testing safety check to be completed.

2. How do I know I am set up properly to work from home safely?

Although Health and Safety Executive guidance currently allows employers to permit employees to temporarily work from home without the need of an additional workstation assessment, we recommend accessing the module within learning pool to allow you to undertake a workstation self-assessment. This provides training on the safe ways to work and allows you to complete your own home workstation checklist quickly and easily. You can then download this and send to your Manager. Access the online e-learning package.

Safe Use of laptops and display screens:

  • Where possible and already issued as part of your usual workplace equipment, attach a separate keyboard and mouse when using your laptop
  • Work from a suitable work surface (desk or table) and use a comfortable supportive chair
  • Position your laptop so that your eyes are roughly at the same height as the top of your screen
  • Regularly change position and take regular breaks away from the screen (suggested as around five minutes in every hour)
  • Multiple screen (and repeater screens) may not be as practical to be regularly moved from usual workplaces to home environments, so please work flexibly given the challenging situation.

There are a range of other online learning and links also available online at My Learning.

Ergonomics company Posturite have produced some handy tips on their blog which you may find useful.

The HSE also produce a free to download booklet - Working with display screen equipment (DSE)

The BBC have also put together some general handy tips and advice which are worth reading to help you work well at home:

3. Can I use my own equipment?

If you're using your own equipment such as extension leads and charging devices at home, it is worth being aware of common hazards. Please visually check all electrical equipment to make sure it is fit for purpose and undamaged before use and make sure cables are hidden to avoid trip hazards.

Any damage, risks and defects to your work equipment should be reported to your line manager for discussion and investigation.

Other top tips for working at home

Stay connected to your team

There are lots of ways to keep in touch with colleagues whilst you are away from one another. Many teams are setting up regular calls or Skype meetings to stay connected and check in with one another, or through the additional mobile phone options that have been rolled out.

  • For direct 1-2-1 discussion, use your county council mobile phone
  • There is also the Skype option which allows face to face video and audio calls as well as the facility for wider meetings with your colleagues. ICT are progressing Microsoft Teams which will be introduced in the near future.

Useful guidance for using Skype on intouch.

There is also guidance for meeting on Skype as already mentioned - be aware that video calls take up more capacity on the council's network so please bare this in mind and please try to use the audio function first.

  • There are already a number of conference call multi dial in telephone conference numbers allocated to keep teams connected, however the council have allocated 200 additional BT conference call dial ins for teams to use which provide the council with a cost effective way for people to keep in touch. Please speak to your manager for the numbers allocated to your service
  • Yammer is also now live for teams to connect so you can keep in touch with your team mates online. Yammer is similar to Facebook and you can use whether you're working at home or in the office.

Lone Working

Please continue to discuss with your Line Manager any agreed lone working measures so that you can keep in regular contact at suitable intervals. This may be at the beginning and end of a working day but will be dependent on your role.

Find out more about Lone Working:

Tips on how to manage your team remotely

You may already manage people who work from home routinely, but if you don't then this might take some adjusting for you too. It is important to check in regularly with your team to make sure they are ok and coping with their workload and also adjusting to this new way of working. Don't forget to not overlook the importance of letting them know that they and their work is valued - a simple 'thank you' goes a long way!

These are unprecedented times and we really value everyone's flexibility and commitment to adapt to new ways of working, staying connected to one another and continuing to provide the best possible services for the people of Cumbria - so thank you again, you are really appreciated.

Latest information on the Coronavirus

Finally - Th!nk safe - be safe

We remain committed to ensure people work safely. Home working requires some adjustments and it is important that each of us carefully consider our own health safety and wellbeing and follow the appropriate guidance, especially given the time colleagues are now spending working remotely.

Please continue to take care and seek advice from your Manager, Health and Safety Team or Trade Union Representative where required.

Further questions and answers

Employee Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) web pages

If you have any specific queries in relation to this advice you can contact the Health and Safety Team by Email to healthandsafety@cumbria.gov.uk or by telephone on 01228 221616.


17:00PM Friday, 1 May 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) staff update

Increasing cyber threat to Cumbria County Council

Over the past few weeks, we have all had to make significant changes in the ways that we work. The vast majority of us are now working remotely for the first time for a sustained period.

Cyber security is extremely important especially when we are so reliant on our technology to deliver front line services. Cyber confidence when working from home is really important. Your behaviours and reporting are critical in helping us to detect, defend against, and prevent these attacks.

Cyber criminals love a crisis. This is because our attention is elsewhere. You may have seen in the news that cyber attackers are using the COVID-19 pandemic to capitalise on security flaws and ramp up phishing attempts.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has detected a big increase in the number of Government branded scams related to COVID-19 over the past two months. Caution should always be taken when opening links or files within emails, but particularly those relating to COVID-19.

So first to emails and in particular 'chain emails'

Many of you may have seen a recent chain email, entitled Inspiring Teachers, Inspiring Leaders, Inspiring Women, Inspirational Nurses or Inspirational Children.

These emails ask the recipient to forward on emails to up to 20 others, including either an inspiring quotation, or thought. Whilst the sentiment is positive, motivating and encouraging, any chain email can pose a significant threat to Cumbria County Council, as they may inadvertently pass on identifiable information (names, email addresses, role within the organisation and whereabouts) to external parties.

This information could be used in a number of ways, such as to target individuals with phishing emails. They may also contain hidden malware or a link to a malicious site.

These emails can also be used to deliver malicious software that infects our corporate ICT network and in a worst case scenario could render ICT systems inoperable as in the case of a recent cyber incident at Redcar and Cleveland Council.

Please DO NOT forward these chain emails.

Now to text messages

COVID-19 text fraud images

Many of you will have received text messages similar to the ones above. Even if you study them quite hard, it is immediately difficult to identify which one is genuine. Text messages can be easily "spoofed" which means it looks as though it comes from a trusted source like the first below.

Some examples like the last are easier to spot, with odd links that should make you immediately suspicious. The middle example is the real text from the UK Government. An increase in these is being record as individuals seek to harass the COVID19 response.

A momentary lapse of concentration is enough to accidentally forward a text, forward an email or re-post a fake message on social media.

If in any doubt DO NOT open or forward to others or post on social media.

To cyber criminals, COVID-19 is an opportunity but by keeping security front of mind and following this advice, you can make sure that it is not.

We ask that you continue spotting and reporting anything suspicious to the ICT service desk, especially now we are all working remotely. Please do not click on unknown links in emails, texts or posts.

Follow the latest SCAM ALERT advice on InTouch. Be especially wary of emails or texts that appear to be from the Government or even a work colleague asking you to do something suspicious for example forwarding an email using blind copy (BCC) to a number of contacts.

Remember, you are the cyber front line.

Stay home. Stay safe. Stay Secure.

Out of hours property contact

Should anyone have any property related emergency calls which are usually raised through the out of hours service operated on our behalf by Atalian Servest until further notice they need to ring them through directly to 01228 221106 and follow the options/voicemail message to be able to contact the Surveyor on call who will deal with your query.

The surveyor on call this week is Sandy Sanderson 07766 397446 (Building Services Engineer) who will be able to assist. The old Out of Hours Number will not be answered.

It's good to talk…new wellbeing and coaching support line

Over the past few weeks, we have all had to adapt and change the way we live and work as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and you may be finding this overwhelming and also challenging.

  • Are you now working remotely from home and feeling isolated?
  • Have you been redeployed into a new role to support front line staff and finding it difficult to adapt?
  • Are you a front line work worker and feeling anxious?

The county council already has some really great, well-established support systems in place to help you including your line managers, the People Management team and Occupational Health colleagues, and on top of this we now have a new network of workplace wellbeing and coaching champions.

It can sometimes help to have someone to speak to about an issue or concern to try and help make sense of things. At times having someone to listen to you is a solution in itself. The wellbeing and coaching champions can be reached on a dedicated support line or inbox which gives you a safe and confidential space to have these conversations should you need to.

We absolutely recognise that everyone is being affected by these challenging times in different ways and there is no perfect list or solution that covers every situation. What we can say though, is that in addition to the usual systems, our trained coaches are ready and available to hear from you.

The new support line will be available throughout the Covid-19 crisis, which you can call upon as a listening ear and where appropriate the champions can signpost you to other available support sources.

You can contact the team, confidentially, on wellbeingandcoachingsupport@cumbria.gov.uk or call 01228 226119 between 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday

A co-ordinator will take your contact details and arrange for you to be called back by one of the coaches at a time that works for you.

Remember, support is only ever just a call away. So don't be afraid to ask for help. We are here to help you…


17:23PM Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) staff update - Coronavirus testing

Swab testing for coronavirus is now available for essential workers (and members of their households) who work for the Council. The test is a voluntary diagnostic test and will only work if you have symptoms. The test will let you know if you actually have the virus.

Who can access the testing

The government have announced a list of eligible key workers who can now be tested they include:

All social care staff

Essential public services staff, including:

  • workers delivering critical frontline services
  • fire and rescue service employees (including support staff)

Transport workers, including:

  • those who keep the road and freight transport modes operating during the coronavirus response
  • those working on transport systems through which supply chains pass

Education and childcare workers, including:

  • support and teaching staff
  • social workers
  • specialist education professionals

Critical personnel in the production and distribution of food, drink and essential goods, including:

  • those involved in food production, processing, distribution and delivery
  • those critical to the provision of other essential goods, such as medical supply chain and distribution workers, including veterinary medicine
  • workers critical to the continuity of essential movement of goods

Local and national government staff critical to the effective delivery of the coronavirus response, or delivering essential public services

Frontline local authority staff, including those working with vulnerable children and adults, with victims of domestic abuse, and with the homeless and rough sleepers

Utilities, communication and financial services staff, including:

  • information technology and data infrastructure sector and primary industry supplies to continue during the coronavirus response


In addition people with symptoms or members of their household can be tested where they are:

  • Over 65 (announced 29 April 2020)
  • People who cannot work from home and have to attend a work location whether they are classed as a key worker or not. (announced 29 April 2020)

Full list of who can be tested.

Symptoms of COVID-19 include a fever and persistent new cough or a combination of symptoms including shortness of breath, fatigue, loss of taste/smell.

Testing is available for a worker (as detailed above) who has symptoms of COVID-19 and are following government guidelines on self-isolating;

OR

A member of the employee's household (over 18) who has symptoms of COVID-19, and the employee is following government guidelines and self-isolating.

Anyone who has had symptoms and been self-isolating for more than five days is not eligible for testing. Testing must take place 1-5 days from the onset of symptoms to be reliable.

How do employees organise a test?

Self referral

Ideally all employees should organise a test themselves using the government website

It is a simple process but staff will need a personal mobile number and email. They can choose to attend either a drive through appointment or receive a home testing kit. However, the home testing kits are limited and where possible, drive through appointments should be used.

Once registered they will be sent a text or email containing a code, which will link to the appointment site. They will then follow the link into the website and book their appointment at the location of their choosing. They will then receive an email or text containing a QR code. They will have to take, either a printout of the email or download the test confirmation and QR code onto their smart phone; this will be scanned on arrival at the testing site. Photo ID such as passport or driving licence will also be required. They will also need their staff ID.

Please note no more than four members of the household can attend the drive through appointment in one car and all need to have a separate appointment. Also note that the testing is not available for those under 18 at some sites, although this is being reviewed.

Management referral

Alternatively, managers can email occupational health and an employer referral will be submitted to request appointments for staff.

Managers need to send the following information to occupational.health@cumbria.gov.uk: labelled COVID-19 TESTING

  • Name
  • Date of birth
  • NHS number if possible
  • Personal mobile phone number
  • Email address
  • Car registration number

This information will then be sent to the employers testing website and an individual will again receive the link as above.

Where are the test sites?

COVID-19 testing sites in Cumbria

Please note these are government testing sites:

  • Penrith: Penrith Rugby Club, Winters Park, Penrith, CA11 8RQ
  • Kendal: Westmorland General Hospital, Burton Road, Kendal LA9 7RG
  • Gateshead: Ikea car park, Metro Park West, Pinetree Way, Swalwell, Gateshead NE11 9XS
  • Preston: Preston College Car park, St Vincents Rd, Fulwood, Preston, PR2 8UR

In addition there is some availability at the following NHS sites for eligible health and social care workers:

Carlisle

The Coppice
Carleton Clinic
Cumwhinton Drive
Carlisle
CA1 3XS

To access the service, line managers must complete the Carleton Clinic referral form (DOC 33KB), providing brief details on behalf of your employee, and email the form to: NCM-TR.CARLISLE-COVID-TESTING@NHS.NET

Upon receipt of the referral, a member of the booking team will contact your essential worker directly to arrange a COVID-19 swab appointment for the same day or next morning.

Whitehaven

Flatt Walks Surgery
3 Castle Meadows
Whitehaven
CA28 7QE

To access the service, line managers must complete the Copeland Red Centre referral form (DOC 80KB), providing brief details on behalf of your employee, and email the form to: CUCCG.COPELANDREDCENTRE@NHS.NET Upon receipt of the referral, a member of the booking team will contact your essential worker directly to arrange a COVID-19 swab appointment for the same day or next morning.

Lancaster

Royal Lancaster Infirmary
Ashton Rd
Lancaster
LA1 4RP

7 days a week 8 to 6pm

Telephone: 01524 591419

Line managers need to telephone to make the referral. Someone from the centre will then call the individual to arrange a suitable time for testing.

Barrow in Furness

Furness General Hospital
Dalton Ln
Barrow-in-Furness
LA14 4LF

Telephone: 01524 591419

7 days a week 9 to 5pm

Line managers need to telephone to make the referral. Someone from the centre will then call the individual to arrange a suitable time for testing.

Kendal

Westmorland General Hospital
Burton Rd
Kendal
LA9 7RG

Telephone: 01524 591419

Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm

Line managers need to telephone to make the referral. Someone from the centre will then call the individual to arrange a suitable time for testing.

What happens at the test?

Staff should only arrive at a test centre in a car, there is no option for public transport, walking or taxis. They will need to arrive in the vehicle registered on their application and each person who requires testing must be seated adjacent to an opening window.

The test involves taking a swab of the nose and the back of the throat, which can be done by the person themselves (self-administered) or by someone else (assisted). The person may experience some mild discomfort and may feel a gagging sensation, but it should not hurt. The sample is then sent to the lab for testing.

The test results should be available within 48 hours of a swab being taken, or within 72 hours for a home test. Staff will receive the result via, phone, text or email.

Managers won't be told the appointment date and time of an individual's appointment.

What to do about the results

Please inform your manager of your results whether positive or negative and your manager will advise on the next steps.

Once you have your results you should contact your line manager. We are keen to know who has tested positive/negative. Please let your manager know the:

  • date
  • type of test
  • result

They will then ensure that the results are inputted onto your record in iTrent (HR system) and eOPAS (Occupational health system). This will help with business continuity planning in the future.

For further information on where and why the information will be stored - please refer to the Coronavirus privacy notice.

The government has also issued a privacy notice.

When can I return to work?

The Public Health England flowchart (PDF 158KB) provides guidance on when an employee can return to work depending upon how they are feeling and their test result.


Further questions and answers can be found on the employee Frequently Asked Questions pages

If you have any specific queries in relation to this advice you can contact the People Management Team using the new People Management portal or by telephone on 01228 221231.


14:08PM Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) staff update

Video conferencing facilities - ICT update 28 April

As a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Council's requirements for video conferencing technology has increased dramatically to support remote communication and virtual meetings.

This update provides some key information on the ICT solutions that are available and what is permitted to be used safely on the Council's corporate network.

Skype for Business

All Council ICT users have access to Skype for Business, and this is the secure corporate tool for video conferencing and instant messaging.

ICT Services have made improvements with the platform to provide increased network performance and additional user functionality following feedback received.

Here are some hints and tips on the use of Skype for Business that will hopefully assist:

  • Skype for Business can be used internally within the Council and also for external third parties and customers. External users can be invited to the video call in the same way as internal staff, simply by entering the external email address into the meeting invite. If the external user experiences problems, a user guide (DOC 806KB) has been produced to advise how the software can be installed on the external users machine.
  • Document sharing has now been enabled. This means you can share and collaborate on documents within instant messages and a video conferencing call. This can be done by clicking on the paperclip icon to select the required file. As a reminder, please be mindful of which documents you share when third parties are involved in the call to maintain the important data protection and information security policies of the Council.

Microsoft Teams

ICT Services, prior to COVID-19, were planning for the release of a new Microsoft collaboration solution called 'Teams'. Microsoft Teams is essentially a central place for various teams to instant message, collaborate and share files and will eventually replace Skype for Business. To support services across the Council in these challenging times, Microsoft Teams can be considered on a case by case basis based on business requirements, where the meeting functionality cannot be delivered via Skype for Business.

If you feel this is the case, please submit a request on the ICT Portal with detail of your business requirements for Microsoft Teams and it will be reviewed by ICT, but please note a mass rollout is not possible at this time but is planned for the future.

Zoom and other third party solutions...

Over the last few weeks, there has been a request for other third party solutions, specifically Zoom to be used for video conferencing within the Council.

Whilst Zoom receives positive usability feedback, it is designed for personal use not business use and is not secure for the business needs of the County Council.

There are serious concerns reported globally about the use of Zoom as a number of serious security flaws have identified evidence of Zoom meetings being hijacked and inappropriate content streamed into the meeting. Last week, there have been reports of inappropriate child abuse images being added to Zoom meetings by external hijackers. Thankfully this was not in Cumbria, but demonstrates the security vulnerabilities in the platform.

Therefore, it has been agreed that all staff must avoid using Zoom for any video conferencing where discussions relating to council business, especially confidential, personal information or commercially sensitive content are taking place.

At this time, the only approved exception to this is for the adult education courses in the Community Learning and Skills Team where these training sessions are hosted externally and do not contain discussions where content risks are high given the training content has been prepared and considered in advance.

It is appreciated that some service teams may be invited to a Zoom video conferencing meeting by an organisation external to the County Council. Whilst every effort should be made to avoid Zoom, where it is not possible due to the platforms being the only option used by the external organisation, then the meeting should only be joined by pasting the meeting invite into the web browser to join the meeting via the internet, not though the Council infrastructure, as this will further reduce any risks.

In any event, Zoom software should not be downloaded and installed onto County Council issued equipment, as this will help control the known risks and help to ensure the Council estate remains secure and protected.

We hope this update is helpful, however if you have any queries or points of clarification please contact the ICT Service Desk on 01228 226000.


09:00AM Monday, 27 April 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) staff update

It's good to talk... new wellbeing and coaching support line

Over the past few weeks, we have all had to adapt and change the way we live and work as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and you may be finding this overwhelming and also challenging.

  • Are you now working remotely from home and feeling isolated?
  • Have you been redeployed into a new role to support front line staff and finding it difficult to adapt?
  • Are you a front line work worker and feeling anxious?

The county council already has some really great, well-established support systems in place to help you including your line managers, the People Management team and Occupational Health colleagues, and on top of this we now have a new network of workplace wellbeing and coaching champions.

It can sometimes help to have someone to speak to about an issue or concern to try and help make sense of things. At times having someone to listen to you is a solution in itself. The wellbeing and coaching champions can be reached on a dedicated support line or inbox which gives you a safe and confidential space to have these conversations should you need to.

We absolutely recognise that everyone is being affected by these challenging times in different ways and there is no perfect list or solution that covers every situation. What we can say though, is that in addition to the usual systems, our trained coaches are ready and available to hear from you.

The new support line will be available throughout the Covid-19 crisis, which you can call upon as a listening ear and where appropriate the champions can signpost you to other available support sources.

You can contact the team, confidentially, on wellbeingandcoachingsupport@cumbria.gov.uk or call 01228 226119 between 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday

A co-ordinator will take your contact details and arrange for you to be called back by one of the coaches at a time that works for you.

Remember, support is only ever just a call away. So don't be afraid to ask for help. We are here to help you...


17:00PM Friday, 24 April 2020

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Update

The Council is fully committed to ensuring we have the correct types and stock levels of PPE available with appropriate guidance and training in place to ensure that all employees are able to work safely.

For those on the front line and working with vulnerable service users and residents, this has understandably been a worrying time with regular media stories highlighting international, national and local shortages of PPE supplies across services, with shortages in the health and social care services being a particular concern.

Recognising our duty of care to our employees, we would like to commit and reassure colleagues that the Council will not ask or require colleagues to work without the appropriate PPE that is recommended within the nationally published guidance. Ensuring that all colleagues that need PPE receive it will reduce the risk to themselves and potentially their families of contracting COVID-19 from their work.

The Council has been working around the clock to source the correct types and volumes of PPE that you need to work safely as per the national guidelines. The Council has put in place a large project team dedicated to work solely on this, with thousands of items of PPE now being delivered to the Council and distributed promptly to teams that need it seven days per week across the whole County.

Following great work by the team, some larger and much needed deliveries of PPE have been received into the County over recent days. We now have more stock available to us than we did last week and we are now working to get these out to teams on the front-line in a planned way.

The national supply of PPE is likely to remain challenging for the duration of this pandemic, but please be assured that PPE is, and will continue to be, a top priority for the County Council. The dedicated PPE project team will continue to do everything possible to ensure you are supplied with the protective equipment that you need.

If you have any queries or concerns relating to the specification, training or supply volumes of PPE then please speak to your line manager in the first instance, or feel free to email the Ask.Colin@cumbria.gov.uk email address or speak to your Directorate Health & Safety Manager or Trade Union safety representative for further advice and support.


17:08PM Wednesday, 8 April 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) staff update

Annual leave

During this challenging time it is recognised that many people are working above and beyond and supporting work pressures on a daily basis, often for longer hours than normal. At times like this it is important to consider your own wellbeing and that you take some well-earned rest.

All staff are encouraged to take their annual leave during the current period, however it is recognised that for those staff directly involved in the COVID19 response it may be more difficult to do so. In such circumstances the government have provided the following guidance to support the carryover of annual leave.

Following this we are pleased to confirm the following:

  • In such circumstances where you are unable to take your leave entitlement, you may request to cancel any leave which was pre-booked to take place during the coronavirus pandemic. This must be discussed and agreed with line manager
  • Staff working in support of the COVID19 response will be able to carry forward up to 4 weeks annual leave, to be used over the next 2 years, extending your current leave into 2021 and 2022
  • Your managers will be asked to carry out planning of all future holiday requirements, following the coronavirus period. This is so that we can ensure continuation of critical services while also managing requests for leave and the wellbeing of employees
  • Where all other options have been exhausted consideration will be given to pay for up to 10 days outstanding holidays which employees have been unable to take (pro-rated for part time employees). This will be by exception only, where the employee was directly involved in the COVID19 response and will require approval by a senior manager
  • Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service are subject to separate conditions under the Working Time Directive and consideration of whether this guidance applies to those employees is currently still under review.

In addition to the above it has been agreed that current restrictions on flexi time and time off in lieu (TOIL) are to be temporarily relaxed as follows:

Flexi / Time off in lieu (TOIL)

  • Where it is not practical for flexi/TOIL to be taken within a 4 week period the current limit on time carried forward will not be applied and time accrued in excess of 3 days can be carried forward
  • Consideration may be given to payment of flexi/TOIL where you are unable to take time off. This should be discussed and agreed with your line manager.

Employees with zero hours contracts

Normally, if employees with zero hours contracts are absent through sickness, they receive pro rata sick pay for any days off sick, based on their average pay over the previous 12 weeks (previous 3 months payroll).

The Council is temporarily extending this provision to also apply where these employees are unable to attend work because of a requirement to self-isolate and are unable to undertake alternative duties from home.

Casual Workers

Casual workers are not employees and would not normally be paid when they are not working. However, given the exceptional circumstances the Council is temporarily extending the provision for zero hours employees to also cover casual workers where they cannot continue to be engaged in work.

Therefore if a casual worker is not able to undertake work - to carry out hours that they would normally have been asked to work - due to a suspected or confirmed case of coronavirus, or because they are required to self-isolate, they will receive payment based on their average pay over the previous 12 weeks (3 months payroll).

This includes casual workers who have existing employment with the County Council.

Sessional Payments

Sessional Payments (Sundays / Nights / Bank Holidays) will continue to be paid to employees who are off sick or have to self-isolate, for employees who would normally be entitled to sessional payments as defined in the pay and benefits booklet (PDF 887KB), while off sick or on annual leave, under their existing contracts.

Employees who are carrying out their substantive post by working from home at different times of day e.g. in the evening or early morning will not be entitled to claim sessional payments.

'Sleep in' Payments

'Sleep in' Payments are not normally payable during periods of sickness. However, due to the exceptional circumstances sleep-in payments will temporarily be paid to employees who are off sick or have to self-isolate, for employees who would normally be rostered to undertake sleep-ins under their existing contracts.

In these circumstances, to ensure these payments are made, managers should record sleep in payments on timesheets in the same way that other sessional payments would be recorded if an employee was off sick.


17:11PM Tuesday, 7 April 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) staff update

Have you joined the conversation yet?

Are you managing to stay in touch with people while you are working from home? Over 1200 of your colleagues and work friends have joined Yammer since it launched last week, and its helping us to feel a little less isolated. There are many groups to join and conversations being had - come along and see for yourself!

All you need to do is visit: Cumbria County Council's Yammer

Log in with the same details you use to get onto the council network.

Please make sure that your Active Directory contact details are up to date, so that your details stored in Yammer are accurate.

You can access Yammer on your laptop, or you can download the app for your work phone or personal phone from the Google Play or Apple's App Store depending on your device.

Looking after your mental health

As we move into week three of homeworking for many of you, please don't neglect your mental health whilst working from home.

Draw on support you might have through your friends, family and other networks. Try to stay in touch with those around you over the phone, by post, or online. Let people know how you would like to stay in touch and build that into your routine. This is also important in looking after your mental wellbeing and you may find it helpful to talk to them about how you are feeling.

Remember it is OK to share your concerns with others you trust and in doing so you may end up providing support to them too. Or you can use a NHS recommended helpline.

If you would like any further information or support you could:

Looking after your physical health

It's also really important to keep active and look after your physical health too. There are lots of options online to do workouts at home, and you should still make time to get away from your computer to go out in your local area for a walk, run, or cycle ride, providing it doesn't involve unnecessary social interaction.

Please try and get some time away from your computer to get some fresh air. Spending time in green space or bringing nature into your everyday life can benefit both mental and physical wellbeing. It can improve mood, reduce feelings of stress or anger, and make people feel more relaxed - even just opening the window and getting some fresh air can help.

Taking regular screen breaks and moving away from the desk in the same way you would in an office is essential and stretching exercises, gentle yoga or mindfulness can be beneficial.

Fit notes / doctors notes / medical certificates - changes to certificate requirements

If you are off sick with coronavirus symptoms then there is no need to contact your doctor for a fit note. You should follow the coronavirus self-isolation advice. You should follow the normal procedures for keeping in touch with your manager.

If you are off sick with a conditions not related to coronavirus then normal procedures apply and if you've been off sick for more than 7 days then you will need a fit note (or Statement of Fitness for work) signed by a doctor. For the first 7 days of any absence (not coronavirus related) you should complete a self-certification form (DOC 97KB).

Fire safety whilst working from home

With the increased numbers of people working at home, our Fire and Rescue Service colleagues are asking staff to make sure that they take appropriate precautions to stay safe.

There are simple things we can all do to ensure we are keeping safe while we are all spending more time at home. The first thing you can do is test that your smoke alarms are working.

With spending more time at home, you are more likely to be cooking during the day and with phones ringing, emails to respond to and possibly children to look after, it's easy to get distracted.

If you don't usually work from home and have set up a temporary office, please ensure you haven't overloaded any plug sockets or are using counterfeit or incorrect chargers for tablets, laptops and mobile phones and "daisy-chaining" - plugging multiple extension leads together or plugging many multi-socket adaptors into a single socket.

In a nutshell, here are some simple tips to stay safe at home:

  • Make sure you have working smoke alarms installed on all levels of your home. Working alarms can give you the vital time needed to escape in a fire. Test your smoke alarms regularly and never remove batteries
  • Never leave cooking unattended. The majority of fires start in the kitchen so this is a high risk area. Always turn off kitchen appliances when you have finished cooking
  • If you smoke, make sure your cigarette is fully extinguished and take extra care if you are tired. It's very easy to fall asleep while your cigarette is still burning and set furniture alight
  • Never use heaters to dry clothes. Heaters can start fires when things are placed too close to them. Keep them well away from curtains, clothing and furniture
  • Don't overload sockets. Ensure only one plug per socket. Always turn off plugs when they are not in use, except those that are designed to be left on, like freezers - you can use a handy socket overload calculator to make sure you are safe here
  • Make sure you and your family have a clear escape plan (that you all know) should you need to get out of your property in a hurry.

For more information on fire home safety please contact Group Prevention Manager will.richardson@cumbria.gov.uk or visit the Cumbria Fire Service website.


17:36PM Thursday, 2 April 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) staff update

Workplace health and safety - Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

In addition to the detailed messages already communicated regarding the Council's commitment to workplace health and safety, work has continued today to progress additional supplies of personal protective equipment for our teams.

Significant PPE orders have been raised and a system is in place ready to distribute supplies when they arrive. In the meantime, we recognise and fully understand the levels of anxiety regarding PPE, and therefore wish to reassure you that in the meantime should you have any queries or concerns, please feel confident to discuss them with your line manager, seek advice from a corporate health and safety advisor or Trade Union health and safety representative.

Data Protection and Information Security: employee guidance

Now more than ever it is essential that we all take steps to ensure that Council IT devices and information is kept safe and secure. Since the Council's response to the COVID-19 Pandemic began a number of staff have asked for advice on the approach to data protection and information security.

The Council has put together some Frequently Asked Questions that include the latest advice from the Information Commissioner. The Frequently Asked Questions will be updated on a regular basis so always check for the latest position before taking any action.

If you have any additional questions or concerns you can contact the Data Protection Officer - dataprotection@cumbria.gov.uk or the Information Security Team - security@cumbria.gov.uk

It's Yammer time!

Today we launched Yammer to help connect you and your colleagues whilst so many of us are working from home. It has been in the testing stages for a little while now and yesterday morning there were just over 300 people signed up and now there are around 900 of you reading posts and joining in the conversations. People have been showing off their lovely pets and home working set up and asking for help on work related topics. People are also letting their colleagues and work mates know what they are up to as well as sharing some interesting tips and advice too.

If you haven't already then come have a look and get involved!

To join in all you need to do is visit: yammer.com/cumbria.gov.uk

Log in with the same details you use to get onto the council network.

Please make sure your Active Directory contact details are up to date, so that your details stored in Yammer are accurate.

You can access Yammer on your laptop, or you can download the app for your work phone or personal phone from the Google Play or Apple's App Store depending on your device.


11:39AM Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) staff update

PPE reminder

The need to maintain critical services and the health of our keyworkers is paramount and we are working hard to ensure that the approach to PPE is co-ordinated and prioritised. Ensuring the health safety and wellbeing of our staff and customers remains our top priority. We remain fully committed to fulfill our legal and moral duties to protect staff.

This is still the number one priority for all partners through the Strategic Co-ordinating Group and is being raised daily with Central Government and the supply chain.

We recognise that nationally we are in an unprecedented position with PPE stocks in short supply throughout the UK. The County Council has established an internal tactical group to focus on PPE who continue to work with our national/local supply chain, Local Enterprise Partnership and others to procure stock and target provision to our priority frontline staff and services.

Some employees have asked if they can provide their own PPE such as hand sanitiser and single use gloves when Council stocks are not available. We are supportive of staff doing this and they will be reimbursed through normal expense claim procedures. Please note that it is very important that PPE must be to the required standards and be suitable for the tasks being performed and advice has been provided to assist all colleagues.

If you require further information please speak with your Line Manager or Directorate Health and Safety Advisor.

We ask that all Care workers follow national advice on hand hygiene (PDF 122KB).

Information from Colin Cox, Director of Public Health regarding hand hygiene and the use of face masks (PDF 15KB).

If you are unclear about what this guidance means for you please speak to your line manager, or review the information held on the Council's website

There are a host of additional information sources and official guidance links:

Further questions and answers can be seen on the Frequently Asked Questions pages.

We still need your help to support our critical services!

We have had a fantastic response to our appeal for support to our critical services, thank you to everyone who has completed the questionnaire. We have already been able to allocate some staff to support the critical work being carried out in the community to support the most vulnerable.

The team are working through all of the responses so if you have completed the questionnaire but haven't yet received a reply someone will be in touch with you soon.

We are continuing to source support for critical services such as residential services for adults and children, the community hubs and social care. These services are looking for people who are able to carry out a range of range of roles and tasks including the provision of care, cleaning, kitchen assistant, community/customer liaison, welfare officer and business support. Some of these roles require staff to work from council buildings but there are some roles that can also been done remotely from home.

An online training course has been developed for all staff allocated to support in Adult's and Children's Residential and Social Care services. If you have completed the questionnaire and been identified as potential support in these areas someone will be in touch with you with the details for the training. In all other areas training will be provided as and when required.

A number of queries have been raised by staff in relation to this process so we have developed some frequently asked questions to respond. We have also included further information on the specific tasks/roles and skills required for the critical areas as referred to above. You can find them on the Council's website

We are still looking for more staff so if you feel that you are able to support our critical services please complete the short questionnaire.

If you are able to provide support in any capacity, then we would actively encourage you to do so as this will make a real and direct difference to the support we can provide to the people of Cumbria. Thank you in advance.

Do you have an LGV Category C or above driving licence?

To assist in providing resilience within the county council, but also so that we are able to potentially offer support to the District Councils, if you have an LGV category C or above driving licence please email Fleet Maintenance Manager, John Chapman - john.chapman@cumbria.gov.uk. Thank you.

Think before you click!

Colleagues within the public sector are reporting a significant increase in the past week of cyber-attacks against Councils as they work towards defeating COVID-19. The attacks are coming from a number of new routes including smart phone apps.

Please can we ask that all staff maintain a high level of vigilance and question every email, text message or even phone call that has arrived unexpectedly from a person they do not know asking them to open an attachment, click on an attached link or action a request to upgrade software for example to WhatsApp gold.

These malicious messages look extremely professional and convincing. They are attempting to convince you to "click" to enable malicious software to be downloaded to your electronic device.

If you are in any doubt please report it to the ICT service desk - ict.servicedesk@cumbria.gov.uk.


10:49AM Monday, 30 March 2020

New emergency support line launched for vulnerable people needing urgent help

On Monday 30 March, Cumbria County Council and partners have launched a new emergency support service for people at high risk of becoming seriously ill, as a result of COVID-19, and who do not have support available from friends, family or neighbours.

Those at high risk include people over 70 years old, pregnant women and those with underlying health conditions who should be protecting themselves by staying at home. The majority of these people will already be receiving support from family, friends or local voluntary groups with tasks like shopping or collection of medicines if they require it. But we know that a small number of people will not have this support. If they have no alternative, these people will now be able to call the Freephone number to request help with getting food, medicines, essential supplies and home deliveries.

Cumbria County Council has been working closely with District Councils, Cumbria CVS, Cumbria Community Foundation, community and voluntary sector, private sector and military to establish these new arrangements. To support the new helpline every area is coordinating a supply of essential food, medicines and supplies which can only be accessed via the emergency helpline or email. The requests received asking for help will then be matched with local support and supplies being offered by community groups, volunteers, councils and businesses.

The Emergency telephone support line is 0800 783 1966.

Or you can email your request for help to COVID19support@cumbria.gov.uk.

Further details about this support service.

The telephone 'call' centre will operate Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm and 10am to 2pm at weekends. The service will also accepts referrals from members of the public who may be concerned about people in their community.

Cumbria is already seeing widespread community and voluntary sector support for the response to COVID-19 and informal support, including neighbourhood WhatsApp groups and community Facebook groups, alongside a commitment from existing community emergency planning groups, local churches and faith groups and formal voluntary sector organisations who are working with the county council and partners including District Councils and NHS.

Cllr Deborah Earl, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Communities, said:

"People who are self-isolating or shielding must not go out to get food shopping, many of these people have good support networks who they can rely on for the delivery of food, medicines or essential services and supplies. But for those who don't we are launching the new emergency support helpline.

We want to reassure the public that we are ready to provide support to our most vulnerable residents who may not have friends or family available to help them."

Carolyn Otley, Cumbria CVS, Chair of Community Resilience Group:

"It is important to speak to others and ask them to help you to make arrangements for delivery of food, medicines and essential services and supplies, and look after your physical and mental health and wellbeing.

It's been reassuring to see there is already widespread community and voluntary sector support for the response to COVID-19 across Cumbria. We all must continue to work together to help those who are isolated or at high risk."

The helpline will also accept referrals from members of the public who may be concerned about people in their community.

Up to date information on COVID-19 in your area.


14:43PM Friday, 27 March 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) staff update

We need your help to support our critical services!

Thank you to everyone who has already completed the questionnaire to support our critical services. We are currently reviewing all of the information provided and will be in touch soon with further information.

Managers are currently considering where they can stop delivery of non-essential activities in order to free up staff to help support critical services. If your role is identified as part of this process you will receive an email asking you to complete the questionnaire. If you have already completed the questionnaire there is no need to complete it again.

A number of queries have been raised by staff in relation to this process so we have developed some frequently asked questions to respond.

We are still looking for more staff so if you feel that you are able to support our critical services please complete the short questionnaire.

If you are able to provide support in any capacity, then we would actively encourage you to do so as this will make a real and direct difference to the support we can provide to the people of Cumbria. Thank you in advance.

Latest government guidance

The government recently announced guidance for everyone on staying at home and away from other people.

The primary aim of this is to reduce day-to-day contact with other people, and reduce the spread of the infection. Staff will be aware that the guidance introduced three new measures:

  • Requiring people to stay at home, except for very limited purposes this includes attending work where necessary
  • Closing non-essential shops and community spaces
  • Stopping all gatherings of more than two people in public


Working from home

Wherever possible all staff should work from home unless they are critical to the delivery of the COVID-19 response.

Where staff are required to continue to attend their place of work, or deliver front line services, there is separate guidance available on Gov.uk.

If you are unclear about what this guidance means for you please speak to your line manager, or review the information held on the Council's website.

Shielding extremely vulnerable staff

The government have also provided further guidance relating to shielding and protecting those who are deemed as clinically extremely vulnerable.

People who fall into this group include:

1. People with a solid organ transplants (e.g. heart, lungs, kidney)

2. People with specific cancers:

  • People with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy or radical radiotherapy for lung cancer.
  • People with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma, or myloma who are at any stage of treatment.
  • People having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatment for cancer.
  • People having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors.
  • People who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs.

3. People with severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe COPD.

4. People with rare diseases and inborn errors of metabolism that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as SCID, homozygous sickle cell).

5. People on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to increase risk of infection.

6. Women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired.

People who fall into this clinically extremely vulnerable group will be contacted directly either via their NHS clinician, or their own GP, within the next few days, with further information and guidance.

As an employee, if you receive a notification from the NHS or your GP you are advised to stay at home at all times and avoid any face-to-face contact for a period of at least 12 weeks or until the government decides to lift the restrictions.

You should advise your manager if you are in this group and you will be expected to work from home even if you are classed as a key worker. If you are unable to work from home in your substantive role, or undertake alternative duties from home, you will be required to stay at home and you will receive your normal pay.

Vulnerable staff

Government lists those who are vulnerable as:

1. Over 70's (regardless of medical condition)

2. Pregnant Women

3. Those with an underlying medical condition (i.e. anyone instructed to get a flu jab):

  • Chronic - heart, respiratory, kidney, liver diseases
  • Neurological conditions e.g Parkinsons, motor neurones, MS
  • Diabetes
  • Weakened immune system as a result of a condition such as HIV and AIDS, medicines such as steroid tablets or chemo therapy

4. Those who are seriously overweight (a BMI of 40 or above)

5. People with complex health problems such as:

  • had an organ transplant
  • cancer (not on the extremely vulnerable list) who are undergoing active chemo or radiotherapy
  • severe diseases of the body system e.g. kidney disease (dialysis)

You should advise your line manager if you fall into one of the categories above.

Line managers will need to determine what appropriate measures need to be taken. Your manager will consider all options to support working from home and may ask the Occupational Health team for advice, based on your particular circumstances, to determine the options to support you and also the impact upon the ongoing delivery of critical services.

If they ask for advice from the Occupational Health team, you may need to speak to one of the Occupational health nurses about your condition.

Your manager will then discuss working from home with you, balancing the need to continue to provide critical services.

If you live with someone and/or cares for someone who is identified as being clinically extremely vulnerable or vulnerable...

You should advise your line manager if you are living or caring for someone who falls into the extremely vulnerable or vulnerable group.

Line managers will need to determine what appropriate measures need to be taken. Your manager will consider all options to support working from home and may ask the Occupational Health team for advice, based on your particular circumstances, to determine the options to support you and also the impact upon the ongoing delivery of critical services.

If they ask for advice from the Occupational Health team and you may need to speak to one of the Occupational health nurses about your particular circumstances.

Your manager will then discuss and consider options for working from home with you, balancing the need to continue to provide critical services.


If you have any specific queries in relation to this advice you can contact the People Management Team using the new People Management portal or by telephone on 01228 221231.


17:09PM Thursday, 26 March 2020

Cabinet pass on their grateful thanks

Following an informal Cabinet Member meeting earlier this week, the Cabinet would like to pass on their grateful thanks to all staff across Cumbria County Council for their efforts at this time.

Wherever your place of work is now: one of our care homes, your regular office, a completely different office base for those redeployed, or your kitchen table with small children and your pets running around your feet - on behalf of the people of Cumbria who need you all now more than ever, please accept our heartfelt appreciation because you are all doing an amazing job.


16:20PM Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) staff update

We need your help to support our critical services!

Our frontline and critical services are working exceptionally hard to ensure the ongoing delivery of priority services to the people of Cumbria.

We have already started allocating some of our resources differently in order to support these critical services. Teams and services are being asked to consider where they can stop delivery of non-essential activities in order to free up staff to help support critical services.

If you feel that you are able to support our critical services please complete the short questionnaire.

You will need to provide information regarding your availability in terms of location and hours/days and confirmation of any specific skills and qualifications. A process has been developed to ensure that volunteers are matched based their skills and availability linking with the priorities from critical services. If you are able to volunteer in any capacity, then we would actively encourage you to do so as this will make a real and direct difference to the support we can provide to the people of Cumbria. Thank you in advance.

Update from ICT

Changes have been implemented to our VPN network, and we are pleased to report that we have seen a significant improvement. We have received positive feedback from colleagues today on the improved network performance - thank you! Please be assured we will continue to monitor our infrastructure and make any further improvements where possible.

The email traffic has also reduced, so again thank you for responding to the points raised yesterday.

To further improve your connection, please close any calendars you may have opened, and likewise any other mailboxes you may need to access.

ICT are continuing to work through the increased number of requests we have received since last week. We are experiencing stock supply issues, particularly for standard mobile phones and smartphones. If you have submitted a request, we are prioritising and responding to these as quickly as we can but as this point we cannot given an indication of timescales. We appreciate your understanding.

Hand hygiene and PPE update

Latest information from Colin Cox, Director of Public Health regarding hand hygiene and the use of face masks


Latest information on the Coronavirus.


09:59AM Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Important update: temporary closure of face to face public access at council buildings and on non-essential council services

Dear colleague,

In response to the latest government guidance on COVID-19, Cumbria County Council will with immediate affect temporarily close all its buildings to the public and will no longer provide non-essential 'face to face' services. Alternative contact can be made on line, by phone, or by email.

The only essential Council 'face to face' services that will continue to be provided are as follows:

  • Registration Services for births and deaths only at the following locations:

County Offices, Kendal

The Nan Tait centre in Barrow

The Lady Gilford's building in Carlisle

Penrith Library

Whitehaven Library.

  • Coroner's Office on Station Road, Cockermouth, CA13 9PT
  • Family Centres (for supervised contact ONLY)*
  • Household Waste Recycling Centres *

Services marked with * are under review and there will be further announcements about them shortly.

Any Staff who can work from home, should now do so, unless they have made different arrangements with their manager.

In an effort to continue to support our customers and residents in this unprecedented time, the council will continue to provide access to council services in the following ways:

  • Online - Customers can go to the cumbria.gov.uk for online services
  • Email - We will publish an email address on cumbria.gov.uk to enable customers to stay in direct contact with the services they need
  • By Phone - Residents can call the council on its general number 01228 606060

We have not made this decision lightly but as you know this is an unprecedented situation and the health, safety and wellbeing of you, our staff, our customers, and our local communities has to be our number one priority.

Work is also already underway to review all other 'face to face' support that we offer as a council. We are looking at how, and where, this can be minimized to provide increased protection. Where this is not possible we will look at the measures we can put in place such as improved PPE and increased hygiene measures to help protect our entire workforce.

Thank you all for your continued efforts. These are difficult times and it continues to be very challenging as we strive to continue to provide services while protecting ourselves and our customers, families, friends and communities.

Please continue to take care of yourselves and of those around you.


16:46PM Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Important ICT update

As you will appreciate, the ICT infrastructure is under extreme pressure supporting us all to work at home - which has been a significant increase!

The ICT team have, and continue to do a great job to help support us all to stay connected in these unprecedented times and high demands on the team. We thank you for your patience and understanding as we embrace this new way of working. But as you would expect the increased use has had an impact on the network and its availability.

We are continually monitoring the stability of our network and where we can putting additional arrangements in place to improve the core infrastructure

One way we can all work together to help ICT to help us all is alleviate pressure is by reviewing the way we use email. Email is a vital communication tool and as expected we are now experiencing a very large increase in the amount of emails being circulated.

We need to all play a part, individually and collectively to reduce the overall volume of avoidable Council emails and you can help by:

  • Considering who you are emailing, and only coping colleagues into an email where it is absolutely essential that they get a copy of the email - please don't copy lots of people in if not required as it could clog up the system
  • Phoning to discuss an issue instead of emailing. Phone is a great way to keep in touch with your colleagues and it is much more personal
  • Considering the size of the email attachments you are sending, and avoiding large attachments wherever possible - please check the size of your attachments before you hit send and reduce its file size where possible
  • At the end of each day, please take some time to do some basic housekeeping - delete unwanted emails and files, tidy up your archive folders and tidy up your shared drives - all of this will free up valuable space that will help us all work at home.

Thank you for helping - it really is appreciated.

We need your help to support our critical services

Our frontline and critical services are working exceptionally hard to ensure the ongoing delivery of priority services to the people of Cumbria.

We need to start allocating some of our resources differently in order to support these critical services. Teams and services are being asked to consider where they can stop delivery of non-essential activities in order to free up staff to help support critical services. If you feel that you are able to support our critical services please complete the short questionnaire.

You will need to provide information regarding your availability in terms of location and hours/days and confirmation of any specific skills and qualifications. A process has been developed to ensure that volunteers are matched based their skills and availability linking with the priorities from critical services. If you are able to volunteer in any capacity, then we would actively encourage you to do so as this will make a real and direct difference to the support we can provide to the people of Cumbria. Thank you in advance.

Email out of office auto reply

If your work is part of the COVID-19 response you may be receiving a high volume of emails which mean you aren't able to respond to all of them in a timely manner, especially if they aren't specifically linked to COVID-19. You therefore may wish to add an auto reply to your email to help manage the expectations of those contacting you as suggested below:

Please be aware that due to COVID-19, I like many other staff are involved in co-ordinating and responding to this unprecedented national situation. This is our priority and as such you should not expect a response from myself to any other general queries at this time. Unless your query is urgent please also refrain from calling the council at this time. Visit cumbria.gov.uk for a full list of services affected. I hope that we will be able to return to business as usual as soon as possible. Thank you for your patience and understanding at this difficult time.

{INSERT YOUR SIGNATURE HERE}

Active Cumbria - Stay In, Work Out

Active Cumbria has a new resource available via their website.

The page signposts to lots of different activities that people can do indoors during this time - for children and adults of all ages. Get involved and share what you're doing on social media tagging Active Cumbria in your posts!

Latest information on the Coronavirus.


16:30PM Monday, 23 March 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) staff update

Priority childcare arrangements in schools for children of essential workforce

All schools and childcare settings are now only providing childcare for children of parents who are essential workers. Not all schools are open and those that are open, are operating on as minimal staff numbers as safe to do so in line with social distancing guidelines. If you do require childcare as you have no alternative option in place, you will need to take evidence with you to show that you are classed as an essential worker. Please ask your manager to fill out a COVID-19 - Key Worker Classification letter (DOC 309KB).

Parents who are not essential workforce should make alternative childcare arrangements.

Explanation of 'essential workforce'

Supporting our critical services

Our frontline and critical services are working exceptionally hard to ensure the ongoing delivery of priority services to the people of Cumbria. Over the coming days you will start to see more messages about how we need to work differently to support these critical services. The People Management team have already started to ask teams and services about what could be classed as non-essential activities and where they might be able to free up volunteers to help support critical services, potentially, in other parts of the Council. The team are working hard to develop a process to ensure that volunteers are matched based their skills and with demands from critical services. Look out for more on this in the coming days which will include information about how you can volunteer.

Coronavirus Frequently Asked Questions

Thank you again to everyone who has sent messages in to the Ask Colin mailbox and directly to the People Management service. Where possible these have been answered and can be found on our Frequently Asked Questions web page. These are being updated daily.

One question sent in today asked "At what point will the Council be issuing clear advice to staff working in county council buildings to maintain a safe distance between each other, e.g. a desk between, or advising that whole teams are not in the office at the same time?"

Answer: The message remains the same as last week - All Cumbria County Council staff should work from home if they are able to do so.

For those unable to work from home and are continuing to work from Council offices, the following precautions should be taken:

Social distancing

  • to limit the potential risk of transmitting the virus, work from a single office and avoid transferring between offices
  • aim to keep 2 metres apart from other people. This can be achieved through spacing of desks and seating in order that people are not working in close proximity to each other.

Please note that all corporate messages and Heads Up briefings can also be found on our website should you wish to refer back to something.

WhatsApp - for Council Android devices (not old windows phones)

To help you keep in touch with your team mates and colleagues, the ICT team have now made WhatsApp available for installing on your county council mobile phone (Android devices only).

Many of you will already be familiar with using this messenger app out of work already with friends and family. This will simply provide an extra way to keep connected and have a chat with your team.

Please follow this link to view the easy installation guide to get you set up.

If you've got any queries please contact the ICT service desk on ict.servicedesk@cumbria.gov.uk or call 01228 226000

Webinars to support new ways of working

A series of three Webinars to support staff with remote working are now available through My Learning at . The first one starts tomorrow at 12.30.

The topics are:

We'd welcome your feedback on the webinars and any ideas on what else we can do to support you in working in different ways. Get in touch with ldadmin.team@cumbria.gov.uk

Latest information on the Coronavirus.


18:01PM Friday, 20 March 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) staff update

Our aim is to keep you as up to date and informed as possible on everything you need to know during the Coronavirus pandemic situation and would encourage you all to please take the time to read the daily corporate messages. Thank you.

Urgent Guidance: Priority childcare arrangements in schools for children of essential workforce from Monday 23 March

Parents/carers with children of school age

Parents will be contacted by their child's school to inform them if the school will be open for children of parents who are essential workers. If the school is unable to open, parents who are essential workers will be asked to take their child to another local school. There will be no school transport provision. Children should not attend school before 9.30am on Monday. Uniforms should be worn as usual.

If you are asked to provide a letter to the school to evidence that you are classed as an essential worker, please ask your manager to fill out a COVID-19 - Key Worker Classification letter.

Parents who are not essential workforce should make alternative childcare arrangements.

Parents/carers of children in nurseries and early years settings

We have asked nurseries and early years settings to close on Monday to all except children of parents who are essential workers and who cannot make alternative childcare arrangements. This is in line with Government guidance. Parents should be contacted by their child's setting to inform them if they will be open for children of essential workforce, and if not where the nearest alternative is.

If you are asked to provide a letter to the nursery to evidence that you are classed as an essential worker, please ask your manager to fill out the letter found in this link.

Parents who are not essential workforce should make alternative childcare arrangements.

Explanation of 'essential workforce'.

Stay at home to stay well

The government advice around social distancing remains in place to try and stop the spread of the Coronavirus outbreak. Social distancing will help reduce the spread of coronavirus. Everyone should follow the guidance on social distancing for everyone in the UK.

It advises on social distancing measures we should all be taking to reduce social interaction between people in order to reduce the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19). It is intended for use in situations where people are living in their own homes, with or without additional support from friends, family and carers.

Everyone should be trying to follow these measures as much as is realistic.

Reporting of Covid-19 related absences

You should notify your line manager in the first instance if you require any absence related to Covid-19 (Coronavirus). For example, if you have a confirmed or suspected case of Covid-19 sickness or other absence relating to Covid-19, such as self-isolation or limited work availability, you need to ensure your manager is aware of your circumstances as soon as possible; so cases are accurately recorded on iTrent.

Accurate recording of workforce data and availability will be vital to support on-going delivery of critical, essential services. Managers are required to record their teams working availability in order to support this. This information will be used to understand the impact of Covid-19 on teams across the council and understand the knock-on effect this will then have on services. We need to be able to understand the organisational impact of Covid-19 so the right resources are provided to support staff, service users and customers during this period of uncertainty.

Sickness absences (Confirmed or Suspected cases of Covid-19) will be recorded in the normal way and will come out of sick pay entitlements.

Other Absence reasons related to Covid-19 (not sickness absence, i.e. self-isolation) have been added to iTrent, which will continue to provide normal pay.

Learning and development to support new ways of working

A new 'My Learning' area to support you with resources and training for new ways of working is now live and can be found in My Learning. Take a look at the 'Managing in a crisis: how to work remotely?' videos and pointers; the daily top tips and 'staying connected with your team'. These resources and pages will be added to in the coming days. The L&D team are also developing a page of resources for staff who are working from home with children off school.

The team are working hard to shift more training online; develop the use of webinars, videos and other digital training technologies to support our new way of working. If you have any useful resources or links that you'd like to see shared then please send them to ldadmin@cumbria.gov.uk

Coronavirus Frequently Asked Questions

Thank you to everyone who has sent messages in to the Ask Colin mailbox and directly to the People Management service. Where possible these have been answered and can be found on our Frequently Asked Questions web page

Please note that all corporate messages and Heads Up briefings can also be found on our website should you wish to refer back to something.

Information for public buildings

If you work in a public facing building please follow this advice if someone comes in to the building with symptoms suggestive of Coronavirus:

  • Please encourage the individual to follow the self-isolation advice on the NHS website and tell them that they should go home and follow the stay-at-home guidance available through NHS 111 online and on the Gov.uk website
  • If they need clinical advice, they should go online to NHS 111 or call 111 if they don't have internet access. In an emergency, call 999 if they are seriously ill or injured or their life is at risk. Tell them not to visit the GP, pharmacy, urgent care centre or a hospital.
  • If a member of staff has helped someone who was taken unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature, they do not need to go home unless they develop symptoms themselves. They should wash their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds after any contact with someone who is unwell with symptoms consistent with Coronavirus infection.

It is not necessary to close the business or workplace or send any staff home, unless government policy changes. Keep monitoring the government response page for the latest details.

For cleaning advice, please follow the advice for cleaning of non-healthcare settings or follow the advice specific to your setting from the list of guidance available.

Keep connected to your team

There are lots of ways to keep in touch with your team mates and colleagues whilst you are away from one another. Here's some ideas:

  • For 1-2-1 conversations please use your county council mobile phone not Skype audio calls
  • Skype instant messenger is great for quick messages that you don't want to clog up email inboxes for and you can have group conversations on this too. It feels a bit more informal and may be a nice way of quickly checking in on each other
  • If you do need a face to face meeting use the Skype video option. If you are new to using skype you'll find some useful guidance on intouch. Please be mindful that video calls take up more capacity on the council's network so please bare this in mind and use the audio function first.
  • There are already a number of conference call multi dial in telephone conference numbers allocated to keep teams connected, however we're aware from helpful feedback that more numbers are required and the council is in the advanced stage of agreeing additional numbers at significantly lower usage costs. More information on this will be provided as soon as possible.
  • Yammer and other mobile options for teams to connect so you can keep in touch with your team mates online are also being launched very soon. Yammer is similar to Facebook and you can use whether you're working at home or in the office. More on this coming soon!

Stay up to date with what's going on in your area

If you would like to receive updates and information about how public services and local communities are responding to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak please subscribe to the alerts for your area:

Train disruption

In line with government advice, train operators are working to a reduced timetable. If you had train travel planned please check with the operator to see how this affects you.


Latest information on the Coronavirus.


09:42AM Friday, 20 March 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) staff update

*Parents of Early Years, Primary, Secondary and Post-16 education - PLEASE READ THIS*

It is now decided that schools will close from tomorrow. If NHS and social care employees cannot attend work because of childcare responsibilities this will create a major problem for health, care and emergency services that will directly affect their ability to care for seriously ill people and protect the public.

In Cumbria we are working on a plan to keep some open to provide childcare for children who's parents work in the NHS, social care and emergency services and cannot make alternative childcare arrangements. To help us prepare we are asking families in these circumstances to complete the COVID-19 priority childcare form.

Please share this survey link with any friends or family as necessary.

Connecting to council ICT systems from home (VPN) - reminder

The council's ICT team have worked hard to increase the number of people able to work remotely via VPN.

This is however placing additional demands on the network so whilst you're working from home and connecting to the network using VPN you may experience slower ICT performance than usual. Unfortunately this is unavoidable and is to be expected given the increased load on both the county council's and national communications networks. Our ICT colleagues are aware of some challenges being experienced and are doing everything possible to maximise network availability so there is no need to log a call with them about this specifically.

Much work has already been done and is ongoing to keep us all connected and please be assured that the systems in place will aim to support as many people as possible to work from home.

We'd ask that you please be patient whilst the system adjusts and consider the types of thing you are using the network for, for example - trying to access large files, pictures, videos and video conferencing will take longer than usual so consider doing this at non peak times of the day if you can. In particular, if you are connecting to video conferencing, video calls take up more bandwidth than just audio calls so should only be used when absolutely required. Everyone can play in part in keeping us all connected so thank you for your continued support on this.

If anyone is new to using VPN please follow all three stages below:

1. Download Google Authenticator onto your mobile phone

2. Register for VPN

3. Connect to a wireless network and VPN

If you require support to connect please contact the ICT helpdesk on ict.servicedesk@cumbria.gov.uk or call 01228 226000.

Social distancing instructions

We should all now be taking steps to limit face to face interaction between people in order to reduce the transmission of Coronavirus. You'll see and hear this being referred to as 'social distancing'.

The advice is intended for use in situations where people are living in their own homes, with or without additional support from friends, family and carers.

Steps you can take are to:

  1. Avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of Coronavirus. These symptoms include high temperature and/or new and continuous cough
  2. Avoid non-essential use of public transport, varying your travel times to avoid rush hour, when possible
  3. Work from home, where possible
  4. Avoid large gatherings, and gatherings in smaller public spaces such as pubs, cinemas, restaurants, theatres, bars, clubs
  5. Avoid gatherings with friends and family. Keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media
  6. Use telephone or online services to contact your GP surgery or other essential services

Everyone should be following these measures as much as is realistic.

For those who are over 70, have an underlying health condition or are pregnant, we strongly advise you to follow the above measures as much as you can, and to significantly limit your face-to-face interaction with friends and family if possible.

All the latest advice.

This advice is likely to be in place for some weeks.

Volunteering in your community

Vulnerable people and elderly people in your community who are social distancing or self-isolating may need the support of volunteers - could you help?

Support Cumbria are looking for volunteers of all levels to support local charities and organisations in local communities.

You might have specific skills to offer or may want to help with tasks like shopping, dog walking, collecting prescriptions or other help.

Go to Support Cumbria to register as a volunteer or to register a volunteer group.

Looking after your mental health

It is really important to look after your mental health whilst homeworking.

Draw on support you might have through your friends, family and other networks during this time. Try to stay in touch with those around you over the phone, by post, or online. Let people know how you would like to stay in touch and build that into your routine. This is also important in looking after your mental wellbeing and you may find it helpful to talk to them about how you are feeling.

Remember it is OK to share your concerns with others you trust and in doing so you may end up providing support to them too. Or you can use a NHS recommended helpline.

If you would like any further information or support you could:

Looking after your physical health

It's really important to keep active and look after our physical health too. There are lots of options online to do workouts at home, and you should still make time to get away from your computer to go out for a walk, run, or cycle ride, providing it doesn't involve unnecessary social interaction.

Please try and get some time away from your computer to get some fresh air. Spending time in green space or bringing nature into your everyday life can benefit both mental and physical wellbeing. It can improve mood, reduce feelings of stress or anger, and make people feel more relaxed - even just opening the window and getting some fresh air can help.

Taking regular screen breaks and moving away from the desk in the same way you would in an office is essential and stretching exercises, gentle yoga or mindfulness can be beneficial.


15:57PM Wednesday, 18 March 2020

Working from home

As per national guidance the council is encouraging as many people as possible to work from home.

For lots of people this may be the first time you have worked from home and you might be feeling a bit apprehensive, however we've put together some useful advice, guidance and tips to help you and will continue to send out regular updates throughout this period. There is a new page on our website which contains all of the staff messages should you want to refer back to anything.

The BBC have put together some handy tips and advice which are worth reading to help you work well at home.

Connecting to council ICT systems from home (VPN)

The council's ICT team have worked hard to increase the number of people able to work remotely via VPN.

This is however placing additional demands on the network so whilst you're working from home and connecting to the network using VPN you may experience your laptop running a bit slower than usual. Unfortunately this is unavoidable and is to be expected given the increased load on both the county council's and national communications networks. Our ICT colleagues are aware of some challenges being experienced and are doing everything possible to maximise network availability so there is no need to log a call with them about this specifically.

Much work has already been done and is ongoing to keep us all connected and please be assured that the systems in place will aim to support as many people as possible to work from home. We'd ask that you please be patient whilst the system adjusts and consider the types of thing you are using the network for, for example - trying to access large files, pictures, videos and video conferencing will take longer than usual so consider doing this at non peak times of the day if you can. In particular, if you are connecting to video conferencing, video calls take up more bandwidth than just audio calls so should only be used when absolutely required. Everyone can play in part in keeping us all connected so thank you for your continued support on this.

If anyone is new to using VPN please follow all three stages below:

1. Download Google Authenticator onto your mobile phone

2. Register for VPN

3. Connect to a wireless network and VPN

If you require support to connect please contact the ICT helpdesk on ict.servicedesk@cumbria.gov.uk or call 01228 226000.

Staying connected to your team

There are lots of ways to keep in touch with colleagues whilst you are away from one another. Many teams are setting up regular calls or Skype meetings to stay connected and check in with one another.

  • For direct 1-2-1 discussion, use your county council mobile phone.
  • There is also Skype option which allows face to face video and audio calls. If you are new to using skype you'll find some useful guidance on intouch. As already mentioned - be aware that video calls take up more capacity on the council's network so please bare this in mind and use the audio function first.
  • There are already a number of conference call multi dial in telephone conference numbers allocated to keep teams connected, however we're aware from helpful feedback that more numbers are required and the council is in the advanced stage of agreeing additional numbers at significantly lower usage costs. More information on this will be provided as soon as possible.
  • We'll also be launching Yammer and other mobile options for teams to connect so you can keep in touch with your team mates online. Yammer is similar to Facebook and you can use whether you're working at home or in the office. Look out for more on these coming soon!

Learning and development support

A range of online learning and links is available online at My Learning, these are currently being extended to include short courses and training on working and managing in a virtual way. Further detail will follow tomorrow.

Working safely from home - Th!nk safe - be safe

We remain committed to ensure people work safely. Home working requires some adjustments and it is important that each of us consider our own health and safety and follow the appropriate guidance. For instance the chairs, desks or additional equipment you may use at work may not be available or supplied to a home environment or alternative place of work at this time.

If you're using your own equipment please be aware of common hazards - please visually check all equipment to ensure it is fit for purpose and undamaged before use and ensure cables do not cause trip hazards.

Use of laptops and display screens:

  • Where possible and already issued as part of your usual workplace equipment, please attach a separate keyboard and mouse when using your laptop
  • Work from a suitable work surface (desk or table) and use a comfortable supportive chair
  • Position your laptop so that your eyes are roughly at the same height as the top of your screen
  • Regularly change position and take regular breaks away from the screen (around five minutes in every hour)
  • Multiple screen (and repeater screens) will not be practical to be moved from usual workplaces to home environments, so please work flexibly given the challenging situation
  • Please speak to your Line Manager should you have individual concerns

Lone Working

Please discuss with your Line Manager any agreed lone working measures so that you can keep in regular contact at suitable intervals. This may be at the beginning and end of a working day but will be dependent on your role.

You can find out more about Lone Working using the links below:

Tips on how to manage your team remotely

You may already manage people who work from home routinely, but if you don't then this might take some adjusting for you too. Over the coming days, we'll be providing more information to help you to manage your team in this new and different way of working. In the meantime it's important to check in regularly with your team to make sure they are ok and coping with their workload and also adjusting to this new way of working. Don't forget to not overlook the importance of letting them know that they and their work is valued - a simple thank you goes a long way!

These are unprecedented times and we really value everyone's flexibility and commitment to adapt to new ways of working, staying connected to one another and continuing to provide the best possible services for the people of Cumbria - so thank you again, you are really appreciated.

Latest information on the Coronavirus


17:46PM Tuesday, 17 March 2020

Changes to working arrangements

Dear Colleagues,

The Prime Minister's announcements yesterday make it clear that the national effort to delay the spread of COVID -19 is moving to a stage of greater intensity. By delaying the spread Government aims to avoid very large numbers of people becoming ill at the same time.

This is an unprecedented situation. By working together and looking after ourselves and one another we will be able to continue to provide essential public services for the people of Cumbria. Thank you for your commitment.

Preparing for change

Today all managers will be reviewing business continuity planning in their teams in order to ensure that the council is ready to implement changes to working practices from tomorrow (18 March).

This will include:

  • Assessing all those staff within their service who can fulfill their role by working from home. We will support home working in all cases that we possibly can.
  • Reviewing and preparing to implement business continuity plans for critical, essential services to ensure we continue to be able to support those people most in need of our support.
  • Reviewing all work related travel.
  • Reviewing the need for all face to face meetings unless there is business critical reason.
  • Considering the use of ICT solutions, including Skype and conference calls as part of business continuity considerations.
  • Reviewing the welfare, infection control and personal protective equipment for staff who provide critical, essential services to our residents and for whom home-working is simply not an option (recognising that there are national shortages of key resources such as sanitiser).

Given the diverse range of services that we provide there will not be a "one-size-fits-all" approach across the council. All of these measures will be reviewed regularly and your manager will keep you updated.

Health and wellbeing

  • If you develop a cough or high temperature stay at home for 14-days.
  • If you live with someone who has a cough or a temperature stay at home for 14-days.

Where you are well and can work from home please do so. Where home-working is not an option for you due to your role you will continue to be paid. This includes staying at home because you live with someone who has a cough or a temperature. COVID-19 absences will be discounted from absence triggers and absence and well-being procedures, but you still need to let your manager know if you are away from work.

GOV.UK stay at home guidance

Employees at greater risk

Employees who are at increased risk for complications from COVID-19 due to underlying health conditions should talk to their manager about steps they can take to protect their health. These may include requesting a temporary change in job location, hours, assignment or duties, or implementation of additional protective measures to reduce their exposure to others or chances of being infected.

Council committee meetings

I have suspended Member committee meetings and associated working groups until the end of the week. All other Council meetings that are planned over the next six weeks will be reviewed and a decision will be made about those meetings and future arrangements before the end of the week. We expect new legislation that will enable some meetings to take place remotely. We are living in unprecedented times and will all need to be responsive and flexible in our approach in the coming weeks.

Cumbria is a great place, with enormous community spirit and strength. I am confident that you will all step up to support one another, so that we face these new challenges positively.

Thank you for everything you do for the county council and our residents.

Katherine Fairclough,

Chief Executive, Cumbria County Council



13:11PM Tuesday, 17 March 2020

Heads Up Coronavirus

This heads up includes important information and managers need to make themselves familiar with the guidance included.

Ways of working flowchart

A flowchart (PDF 434KB) has been put together to help managers and staff work through various scenarios that are emerging as a result of the developing situation with the Coronavirus and the subsequent national and Council guidance.

The flowchart covers common questions that have been asked. You will understand that it is not possible to cover every scenario and this is provided as a guide and will be updated if situations change. Managers are asked to use their judgement and pragmatism to solve problems that arise.

Advice for vulnerable groups

For further details on vulnerable groups please see the government website. This now includes further advice for pregnant women who are being advised to self-isolate.

Recording absence and time lost due to coronavirus (supersedes guidance issued on the 12 March 2020)

Accurate recording of workforce data and availability will be vital to support on-going delivery of critical, essential services. Managers are required to record their teams working availability in order to support this.

Sickness absences should be recorded in the normal way. Other absences due to coronavirus i.e. requirement to care for a dependent, but not actual sickness will be recorded via iTrent People Manager using the "other absence" functionality.

How to record sickness absence as a result of a confirmed case of Coronavirus

Recording should be completed in iTrent following the normal absence recording method.

  • Where a team member is unwell with a confirmed case of coronavirus record in iTrent as "Coronavirus - confirmed case"
  • Where a team member is unwell with a suspected case of coronavirus record in iTrent as "Coronavirus - suspected case"
  • If a suspected case becomes confirmed, you will need to change the reason for the absence to "coronavirus - confirmed case".

Managers are advised that absences in respect of Coronavirus are to be discounted from triggers and progression through the Absence and Wellbeing procedure.

Ending an absence

As normal, absence should be ended when the team member is fit to return to work. It is really important to maintain accurate records so promptly entering absence end dates will help the organisation understand and plan around levels of availability.

Other absence recording

Just like when your team members are on flexi leave, other absences from the workplace should be recorded in iTrent. Additional categories for coronavirus related absence have been added which will continue to provide normal pay. The codes are as follows:

  • Coronavirus - Caring responsibilities
    This option should be selected if the employee's normal care arrangements are not available (i.e. school closure, carer unable to attend) and the employee is unable to work from home.
  • Coronavirus - Self-isolation
    This option should be selected if an employee is directed by health professionals or following government guidelines to self-isolate or dependants have coronavirus symptoms but they are unable to work from home. Self-isolation should not be recorded as a sickness absence.
  • Coronavirus - Awaiting redeployment
    This option should be selected if the employee is available for redeployment into another role due to their building being closed or current work is not sustainable etc. Further guidance will be provided on this in due course.
  • Coronavirus - Redeployed
    This option should be selected if the employee is redeployed into another role. Further guidance will be provided on this in due course.

How to record Coronavirus related absence (not sickness)

1. In People Manager, select relevant Employee and choose 'Other Leave'

2. Select 'Other Absence - New'

3. Enter details and select 'Paid Leave' and choose relevant Coronavirus absence option above and save.

Frequently Asked Question

What to do if a team member becomes ill during self-isolation?

If the team member who has been self-isolating becomes unwell, then they should then be recorded in iTrent as sickness absence, using the instructions above just like you would for any other normal absence.

Health Surveillance appointments

Please note that all health surveillance appointments for Fire, Highways and other safety critical posts have been postponed until further notice.

Additional travel and expenses claims relating to Coronavirus

Any claims should be made via the usual methods, see below for instructions on how to submit a claim.

Where employees have been required to make a business journey due to the Coronavirus, then "Coronavirus" should be entered in the reason column.

Any additional expenses which are directly linked to Coronavirus, should be claimed against the 'expenses - other' element. In the reason for spend column employees should enter, Coronavirus followed by what the expense is, for example "Coronavirus - purchase of hand sanitizer".

Expenses should be pre-authorised by an individual's line manager before any claims are submitted.

Cumbria County Council will only reimburse employees for expenses which are essential and required to carry out their role. An example would be where employees working in the front line services are required to purchase their own hand sanitizer or cleaning products to be used in the work place.

Although it is against normal expenses guidance, Cumbria County Council will reimburse any additional telephone costs arising from employees needing to use their own phone for work purposes, as they are required to work from another work location (including home) and did not have access to a Council phone, either landline or mobile.

All claims should have a valid VAT receipt. Where VAT is not to be recovered, claims should still be supported by a receipt where possible to ensure compliance. All mileage claims must be accompanied by VAT receipts, with the exception of pedal cycle travel. Reimbursement will not be made if receipts are not provided.

How to submit a claim

Employees with access to MyHR should submit their claim online.

MyHR User Guides

Employees who do not have access to MyHR should complete the Mileage and Expenses Claim Form (DOC 245kb). Completed forms and VAT receipts should be sent to: Service Centre, Parkhouse Building, Baron Way, Kingmoor Business Park, Carlisle. CA6 4SJ.

Questions

Should you have any queries in respect of recording, please contact the People Management Team via the People Management portal.


16:18PM Monday, 16 March 2020

Further changes to managing Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Today the Government has introduced new measures in the Prime Minister's speech, including an announcement asking people to work at home wherever possible.

As regards your working arrangements for tomorrow (Tuesday 17 March) we are asking all staff to please arrive at work as normal e.g. if you intended to be in your usual place of work then please carry on with this arrangement and go to your place of work as normal.

To reassure you, the council has been preparing for this decision for some time now. We have been proactively working on all of our business continuity plans.

There will be further detailed guidance out tomorrow, outlining how we will make the move to balancing increased working from home, whilst maintaining our most critical and essential services.

Crucially there will not be a "one-size-fits-all" approach across the council. This reflects the diverse nature of the services we provide and our workforce.

This is a complicated issue and the response from everyone so far has been fantastic. Thank you for your commitment and team spirit.


17:51PM Friday, 13 March 2020

Change to managing Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Yesterday the Government changed its approach to managing the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19). The aim is now to delay the spread of the virus across the country, rather than prevent the spread.

The change acknowledges that the virus can no longer be contained and many people are likely to be infected with it over the coming weeks and months. By delaying the spread Government hopes to be able to reduce the pressure on public services, particularly health services, by stretching out the number of people who become ill over a longer period.

We have preparing for the change in approach over recent days.

What this means for the council?

This means that over coming days and weeks you will see changes in how the council operates and how you are asked to work. These changes will be intended to slow the spread of the virus amongst the workforce, with the aim of minimising the impact on our ability to provide public services to the people of Cumbria.

This could mean more home working, teams operating from split locations, change or suspension of certain services and more. There will not be a "one-size-fits-all" approach across the council. This reflects the diverse nature of the services we provide and our workforce. How you may be asked to work could be different from colleagues elsewhere, and that it is likely to change and evolve over time.

Work is currently underway to agree initial measures that will be put in place and the aim is that these will be applied in a co-ordinated way amongst public sector partners in the county. More information about this will be provided early next week.

Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service, will be implementing changes from today which reflect their status as a blue-light emergency service.

What we are asking of you

This is worrying time, even if we are not concerned for ourselves we may have concerns about family members or loved ones. We are asking you to be flexible about how you work and respond positively to change. In turn the council recognises that the spread of the virus will have impacts on people's lives outside of work and we will be flexible and ensure people are supported to meet all their responsibilities.

This is significant challenge, and while we can hope for the best we must be prepared for the situation to get worse and to last months rather than weeks.

Further information will be circulated next week. The response from everyone so far has been fantastic. Thank you for your commitment and team spirit.



Latest guidance from Government

The most common symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are recent onset of:

  • new continuous cough and/or
  • high temperature

For most people, coronavirus (COVID-19) will be a mild infection:

  • if you have symptoms of coronavirus infection (COVID-19), however mild, do not leave your home for 7 days from when your symptoms started. (See ending isolationsection below for more information)
  • this action will help protect others in your community while you are infectious
  • plan ahead and ask others for help to ensure that you can successfully stay at home
  • ask your employer, friends and family to help you get the things you need to stay at home
  • stay at least 2 metres (about 3 steps) away from other people in your home if possible
  • sleep alone, if possible
  • wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds, each time using soap and water
  • stay away from vulnerable individuals, such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, as much as possible
  • you do not need to call NHS 111 to go into self-isolation. If your symptoms worsen during home isolation or are no better after 7 days, contact NHS 111 online. If you have no internet access, call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999

Coronavirus (COVID-19): UK government response


17:55PM Thursday, 12 March 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) recording absence and time lost due to self-isolation

People Management and Health and Safety colleagues have agreed that all absences or self-isolation cases, suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases for staff must be recorded through iTrent. There is no recording requirement through the E-Safety accident/incident reporting system. This will still enable effective monitoring practices to take place for affected staff.

Managers are advised that absences in respect of COVID-19 are to be discounted from triggers and progression through the Absence and Wellbeing procedure.

Self-isolation

Where a team member is directed by health professionals or following government guidelines to self-isolate

AND they are well

AND they are able to work from home, then they will continue to work as normal and no recording is necessary (at present) other than your records for your team.

Where a team member is directed by health professionals or following government guidelines to self-isolate

AND they are well

BUT they are unable to work from home, then they will need to be recorded as self-isolating. Provisions exist within all our terms and conditions of employment for full pay in these circumstances.

How to record self-isolation

Self-isolation should not be recorded as absence. Follow these instructions to record self-isolation:

Submit a ticket to the Service


17:59PM Wednesday, 11 March 2020

Can you work from home and access Council systems?

We are preparing for the possibility that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak will get worse. If it does, people may be required to work from home. We want to check now that people can access Council ICT systems from home.

PLEASE NOTE: At this stage, there is no need to change existing working patterns, however we want to be as prepared as possible in case staff are required to work from home more than usual.

What you need to do now

County Council ICT systems can be accessed securely from home and other non-County Council premises. This secure access is possible by a wifi connection to County Council systems via a Virtual Personal Network (or VPN for short).

Many people will use this regularly. If you do not, or have never tried, we want you to test whether you can connect via VPN from home.

To use your laptop to access Council systems via VPN, there are three key stages outlined below - each stage has a step-by-step DIY guide (click the links).

Over the next few days please follow the instructions below and check you are able to connect from home.

All stages must be completed to allow successful access.

1. Download Google Authenticator onto your mobile phone

2. Register for VPN

3. Connect to a wireless network and VPN

Queries and support

Should you be unable to access VPN or have a setup problem, please contact the ICT Helpdesk via:

Frequently asked questions

Thank you to everyone who has sent questions . We have compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions and responses. This will be updated as the situation develops.


18:10PM Tuesday, 10 March 2020

Update 10 March

Dear Colleagues,

As you may be aware from local media reports there have been three additional COVID-19 (Coronavirus) cases confirmed in Cumbria today, taking the total to eight in the county.

Two of these cases are related to earlier Cumbrian cases; the other is a member of staff at a school in Carlisle who recently travelled through Italy. Following an expert assessment by a Public Health England Health Protection Team the school has not closed as it was determined that the risk to people at the school was low.

It is increasingly clear today that we are moving towards the point where the country will need to move from a "containment" phase, where the aim is to stop the virus spreading, to a "delay" phase where the aim is to reduce the speed at which it spreads. This is a decision that will have to be made nationally and until then we should continue to follow the national advice in terms of self-isolation and good hygiene practice.

Corporate Management Team are holding a special session tomorrow to discuss the situation in more detail and consider the planning work that has been going on to prepare for the potential impact on council services. I will update you again on those discussions.

Thank you for your messages, colleagues in the Public Health team are working through your queries. Where there are specific concerns about an individual we will contact you direct. General queries will be dealt with through an FAQ and circulated to all colleagues in my next message. If you have any further queries please ask.

It's also important to remember that the risk to the public remains low and in the vast majority of cases, COVID-19 causes relatively mild symptoms and people make a full recovery. However, just like seasonal flu, it can be serious for a small number of people, particularly in more vulnerable groups such as older people and those with existing respiratory conditions. It is therefore important to try to limit the spread of the virus where possible.

Yours

Colin Cox, Cumbria Director of Public Health



Preventing the spread of infection

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus.

There are general principles anyone can follow to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:

  • washing your hands often - with soap and water, or use alcohol sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol if handwashing facilities are not available - this is particularly important after taking public transport. Guidance is available on hand washing
  • covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throwing the tissue in a bin. See Catch It, Bin It, Kill It
  • people who feel unwell should stay at home and should not attend work (this also applies to visitors to care homes)
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces at least daily or after use. Deep cleaning is not required
  • if staff are worried about their symptoms or those of a family member or colleague, please call NHS 111. They should not go to their GP or other healthcare environment

employees should wash their hands:

  • before leaving home
  • on arrival at work
  • after using the toilet
  • after breaks and sporting activities
  • before food preparation
  • before eating any food, including snacks
  • before leaving work
  • on arrival at home

Please note: Hand sanitiser has been ordered for council employees in public facing roles and reception areas of public buildings but there is currently a national shortage due to high demand. Sanitiser will be distributed as soon as available.

Facemasks and gloves

During normal day-to-day activities facemasks do not provide protection from respiratory viruses, such as COVID-19 and do not need to be worn by staff in any of these settings. Facemasks are only recommended to be worn by infected individuals when advised by a healthcare worker, to reduce the risk of transmitting the infection to other people.

Gloves are not required. Individuals should follow hand washing guidance.

PHE recommends that the best way to reduce any risk of infection for anyone is good hygiene and avoiding direct or close contact (within 2 metres) with any potentially infected person.

Containing and delaying the spread of infection

At the current time the UK is attempting to contain the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) infection and prevent it becoming widespread in the population.

If this is not successful the UK will move to a strategy of delaying, or slowing down, the spread of the virus. This is to try and avoid large numbers of people becoming ill at the same as this could have a serious impact on businesses and public services.

As part of a future delay strategy this may mean some staff could be required to work from home. This would help reduce contact between people and slow the spread of the virus, limiting the number of people infected at any one time. This will help us remain able to provide services to the public. Government has asked us now to think about how this would work.

Regular internal planning meetings are being held by senior officers and the council is also leading the multi-agency planning with partner organisations in Cumbria.

New advice will be published if the UK moves to a delay strategy.

Coronavirus: ICT security

There has been a sharp increase in the number of malicious 'phishing' emails targeting organisations that seek to capitalize on people's worries around Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Phishing is a cyber attack that uses disguised email as a weapon. The goal is to trick the email recipient into believing that the message is something they want or need - a request from their bank, for instance, or a note from someone in their company - and to click a link or download an attachment.

Please be aware of the possibility of receiving of unsolicited emails related to Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Please do not open emails, click links or download documents if they are not from a trusted source.

If you receive any such emails please contact Security@cumbria.gov.uk

Further information

Further information and resources


18:26PM Friday, 6 March 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Guidance for employees from Director of Public Health

Dear Colleagues,

Understandably the current situation is causing concern for many people and it's important that employees are given the right advice about Coronavirus (COVID-19).

It's also important to stress that the risk to the public remains low and in the vast majority of cases, COVID-19 causes relatively mild symptoms and people make a full recovery. However, just like seasonal flu, it can be serious for a small number of people, particularly in more vulnerable groups such as older people and those with existing respiratory conditions. It is therefore important to try to contain the spread of the virus where possible.

This briefing provides the latest advice from Public Health England and reflects discussions we have had with Trade Unions regarding concerns being raised by employees. The advice is proportionate to the level of risk that currently exists, there is no need to do more than advised in this briefing.

Colin Cox, Cumbria Director of Public Health


Preventing the spread of infection

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus.

There are general principles anyone can follow to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:

  • washing your hands often - with soap and water, or use alcohol sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol if handwashing facilities are not available - this is particularly important after taking public transport. Guidance is available on hand washing
  • covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throwing the tissue in a bin. See Catch It, Bin It, Kill It
  • people who feel unwell should stay at home and should not attend work (this also applies to visitors to care homes)
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces at least daily or after use. Deep cleaning is not required.
  • if staff are worried about their symptoms or those of a family member or colleague, please call NHS 111. They should not go to their GP or other healthcare environment

employees should wash their hands:

  • before leaving home
  • on arrival at work
  • after using the toilet
  • after breaks and sporting activities
  • before food preparation
  • before eating any food, including snacks
  • before leaving work
  • on arrival at home

Please note: Hand sanitiser has been ordered for council employees in public facing roles and reception areas of public buildings but there is currently a national shortage due to high demand. Sanitiser will be distributed as soon as available.

Facemasks and gloves

During normal day-to-day activities facemasks do not provide protection from respiratory viruses, such as COVID-19 and do not need to be worn by staff in any of these settings. Facemasks are only recommended to be worn by infected individuals when advised by a healthcare worker, to reduce the risk of transmitting the infection to other people.

Gloves are not required. Individuals should follow hand washing guidance.

PHE recommends that the best way to reduce any risk of infection for anyone is good hygiene and avoiding direct or close contact (within 2 metres) with any potentially infected person.

Containing and delaying the spread of infection

At the current time the UK is attempting to contain the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) infection and prevent it becoming widespread in the population.

If this is not successful the UK will move to a strategy of delaying, or slowing down, the spread of the virus. This is to try and avoid large numbers of people becoming ill at the same as this could have a serious impact on businesses and public services.

As part of a future delay strategy this may mean some staff could be required to work from home. This would help reduce contact between people and slow the spread of the virus, limiting the number of people infected at any one time. This will help us remain able to provide services to the public. Government has asked us now to think about how this would work.

Regular internal planning meetings are being held by senior officers and the council is also leading the multi-agency planning with partner organisations in Cumbria.

New advice will be published if the UK moves to a delay strategy.

Coronavirus: ICT security

There has been a sharp increase in the number of malicious 'phishing' emails targeting organisations that seek to capitalize on people's worries around Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Phishing is a cyber attack that uses disguised email as a weapon. The goal is to trick the email recipient into believing that the message is something they want or need - a request from their bank, for instance, or a note from someone in their company - and to click a link or download an attachment.

Please be aware of the possibility of receiving of unsolicited emails related to Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Please do not open emails, click links or download documents if they are not from a trusted source.

If you receive any such emails please contact Security@cumbria.gov.uk

Further information

Further information and resources


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