Agenda item

COVID-19 Update

Report of the Chief Executive



Councillor Philip Whitehead, Leader of the Council and Cabinet member for Economic Development, MCI and Communications presented the report which provided an update on activities to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus in Wiltshire since the last update to Cabinet in September 2020.


Questions had been received from Chris Caswill in relation to the COVID-19 update. 


Cllr Whitehead acknowledged that the questions had received written responses which had been published on the Council’s website prior to the meeting. Chris Caswill then asked a supplementary question about deadlines being met in Care Homes in relation to the receipt of test results. Cllr Whitehead confirmed that a written response would be provided.


The Leader thanked the residents of Wiltshire for their adherence to the COVID-19 guidelines. Officers provided updates of their service areas, as detailed in the report, covering the following areas - Test and Trace, outbreak management, events, safe spaces, care homes, social care, education and the economy. It was noted that in the main, the majority of Wiltshire residents maintained social distancing, washed their hands on a regular basis and had a face covering. This had helped Wiltshire to remain at level 1 – medium with continued low transmission and transfer rates. 


In response to questions from Cllr Ian Thorn, Leader of the Liberal Democrats about (i) extending the number of newspaper publications taking ‘wraparound’ adverts; (ii) the levels of support provided to unemployed residents especially young people; (iii) the expansion and upgrade of emergency departments and increases in the numbers of staff managing the facilities; (iv) the criteria for appointing the approved contractor to provide regional testing sites and mobile testing facilities; (v) the delivery of PPE and digital devices; Cllr Whitehead and Officers explained that (i) the Communications Recovery Group would be asked to consider extending ‘wraparound’ adverts to other publications; (ii) Measures to support employed people have been in place since March 2020; (iii) The CCG would be asked to comment on any increase in staffing levels at emergency departments; (iv) The contractor providing testing sites was chosen nationally and would have to meet strict criteria to provide the service; (v) Officers were thanked for their incredible work and also the Cabinet for their work supporting the activities undertaken.  


Comments arising from the general discussion included:

·       Deadlines for the implementation of the Test and Trace Support Payment of £500 had been met.

·       The work of the COVID secure marshals to provide guidance and help, with the help of Government funding of £202,000.

·       Expansion of a local test and trace system and high compliance of Wiltshire residents.



i)               Note the current impact of COVID-19 in Wiltshire and encourage all residents to download the NHS Test and Trace app on their phone.


ii)             Note changes in national policy and the work underway within the four Recovery Coordinating Group themes and on Organisation Recovery.


iii)           Endorse the proposed approach of the council towards events in the county to ensure protection of population health and reduce the risk of increasing viral transmission (paras 19-22).


Reason for Decision

Wiltshire Council continues to work closely with partners to deliver in a rapidly changing environment.


While Wiltshire Council and Government have new powers to prohibit events if they present a risk to public health, it is necessary for event organisers to take responsibility. It is regrettable that the council is unable to support events at this time, but this recommendation has been made to protect the health of Wiltshire residents.

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