**This page was last updated on Monday 21st September**

This has been a terrible time for our community and my heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones or are suffering from illness or loneliness. Thank you to the many volunteers who have worked so hard to protect and support our most vulnerable and isolated, and to our NHS staff, care workers and key workers in Batley and Spen working long days in difficult circumstances to keep us safe.

On the 18th September, the Government announced that enhanced restrictions in Kirklees were to be put back in place across all wards, alongside other areas in the north of England. You must not socialise with anyone from outside of your household, either indoors or outdoors. You can see the full list of restrictions here.

Since the 14th September, social gatherings of more than six people will be illegal in England. But it will not apply to schools, workplaces or Covid-secure weddings, funerals and organised team sports.

The Health Secretary has announced that there are exemptions for informal childcare for under 14s. This means you can allow relatives and friends to come into your home for childcare purposes.

Business and venue closures and restrictions

The following businesses and venues must remain closed nationally, including in the affected areas:

  • nightclubs, dance halls, and discotheques
  • sexual entertainment venues and hostess bars

Vulnerable groups, the over 70s and care homes

If you are aged 70 and over, you are still advised to minimise contact with anyone outside your household. If you do go out, make sure to observe social distancing at all times.

Those who have been advised to shield by the NHS or their GP are now allowed to leave their homes with their families, as long as they stick to social distancing guidelines. Those who live alone can meet one person from another household as long as they stay two metres apart.

In care homes, the Government has issued detailed guidance to help admit and care for residents safely and protect care home staff. This includes isolation procedures, PPE and infection control training, cleaning and how to provide personal care safely.

Reopening of schools

Schools have now re-opened, with pupils who test positive for COVID or come into contact with someone who has being told to self-isolate and not attend school. In areas still under enhanced restrictions, children over the age of 12 should wear a face covering when moving around in school. For areas not under restrictions, schools are issuing advice individually.

Reopening of businesses

Beauty salons and nail bars, casinos, bowling alleys, music venues and theatres have re-opened, as well as indoor play areas and nightclubs.

Music venues and theatres must have socially distanced audiences during a performance.

It is compulsory for everyone to wear face coverings in shops, banks, post offices, cinemas and places of worship unless an individual is exempt (for example: having disability, being a child under 11 or communicating with someone who relies on lip reading).

Face Coverings are not required in Restaurants and Bars.

Going to work

Employers should make every effort to support working from home, including providing IT equipment as they have been already. Where work can only be done in the workplace, the Government has set out tailored guidelines for employers to protect their workforce and customers while continuing to trade or getting their business back up and running.

Workers’ rights

Employers and staff should discuss and agree working arrangements. Where work cannot be done at home employers should take clear, practical steps to help protect workers and create safe working spaces. If you remain concerned your employer is not taking all practical steps to promote social distancing you can report this to Kirklees Council here or to the Health and Safety Executive here.

You have the right to a safe and healthy workplace which is suitable for all who work there.

The Government is urging employers to be pragmatic and discuss arrangements for working with their staff, and to take responsible decisions and listen to the concerns of workers. If you need advice about work disputes you can contact ACAS on 0800 4700622 or by visiting their website here, or join a Union here  or call the TUC direct on 020 7636 4030.

If you need help from me, please email me on tracy.brabin.mp@parliament.uk or ring my office on 01924 900036.

Public transport

The Government is encouraging people to cycle or walk to work where possible. Before travelling on public transport, you should consider if the travel is absolutely necessary.

It is now mandatory to wear a face covering if travelling on public transport. The Government is encouraging the use of scarves or other homemade coverings, rather than buying medical or surgical masks – these should be reserved for health and care workers.

Borders and international visitors

From Monday 8th June, when people enter the UK they will be asked to provide their contact details and details of their accommodation, and to self-isolate in their accommodation for 14 days – other than those on a shortlist of exemptions. This shortlist can be found here.

This includes both foreign visitors coming to the UK, and British nationals returning to the country from abroad.

If you refuse to provide contact details you can be fined £100, and if you refuse to self-isolate you can be fined £1,000.

Enforcement

West Yorkshire Police and Kirklees Council have the powers to enforce the requirements set out by the Government if people do not comply. If you are in breach of the law you may be instructed to go home, leave an area or disperse, and they may instruct you to take steps to stop your children breaking these rules. The police can also take you home or arrest you if they think it is necessary.

If the police believe you have broken the law – or you refuse to follow their instructions – they can issue you a fine of £100, up from the previous fine of £60. This is reduced to £50 if paid within two weeks. The fine amount doubles for every offence you commit to a maximum fine of £3,200.

Key contacts

If you need any help or support, please contact the following groups.

– Kirklees Covid-19 Community Response: 01484 226919

– Citizens Advice Bureau: 03444 111444

– Samaritans: 116 123

– Royal Voluntary Service: 0330 555 0310

– National Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0808 2000 247

– Childline: 0800 1111

For the latest Government advice you can visit its Coronavirus hub here.

If you believe you may have contracted Coronavirus, you can check your symptoms via NHS 111’s online symptom checker, here.

If you need support in getting access to food or would like to donate food or volunteer with deliveries, you can contact Batley Food Bank by emailing info@batleyfoodbank.org.uk or calling 01924 474999.

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