Further information can be found at: Coronavirus (COVID-19).







Who does it affect?

  • Residents and businesses within the district
  • Chichester District Council staff and councillors
  • Parish councils
  • Community groups and charitable organisations

In this briefing

  • Latest update

Local news

  • Service status
  • Vaccination programme in the Chichester District
  • Business grants update
  • Business and community groups benefits from Covid Recovery Grants
  • Become a councillor
  • New dates announced for Chichester Wellbeing's weight management course
  • Stay up-to-date

National news

  • Guidance on visiting care homes
  • Updated guidance for those providing unpaid care
  • Free rapid coronavirus tests for all businesses
  • Final findings from Imperial College London and Ipsos MORI study
  • UK Transition Business Support Helplines

Latest update

This week marked the first step in the Government's four-stage plan to take England out of lockdown. From Monday (8 March), all children and students can return safely to face-to-face education in schools and colleges; higher education students in practical courses can return to university; childcare and children's supervised activities can resume; people can leave home for recreation and exercise outdoors with their household or support bubble, if they are eligible for one, or with one person from outside their household; and care home residents are allowed one regular visitor.

In a briefing on Monday, the Prime Minister gave an update on this first step.

Any further easing will depend on whether conditions relating to the vaccine rollout, hospitalisations, infection rates and new variants are all being met.

Full details of the plans can be found at: COVID-19 Response - Spring 2021 .

Local News

Service status

The majority of our services are currently operating as usual. Our leisure centres, which are run in partnership with Everyone Active, are currently closed during the national lockdown, however the current indication from the Government is that leisure centres will be able to reopen for some activities from 12 April. This is just an indication at this stage and is subject to certain Government tests being met, but we will keep everyone updated on this. For more information, visit: Everyone Active - Chichester .

Our Novium Museum and Tourist Information Centre are also closed during the current restrictions, however people can enjoy a virtual visit of the museum at The Novium Museum - virtual museum . An update on all of our services can be found at: .

Vaccination programme in the Chichester District

The vaccination programme across West Sussex continues to go from strength to strength. We are sharing updates from the NHS as we receive them, and these can all be found on our website at: Coronavirus support for residents.

When you have received your vaccination, please continue to follow the Government guidance. While having the full course of the vaccine will reduce the chance of you suffering from the virus, you may still be at risk of catching it and spreading it to other people, so it is important that everyone continues to follow Government advice and guidance.

If you have received your vaccine, Healthwatch West Sussex would like your views. If you'd like to share your experience, you can take part in their short survey before Wednesday 31 March.

Business grants update

To date, our team has issued more than £47 million in Government business rate and discretionary grant funding to businesses in our district. This is through funding we have received from central Government. If your business has been affected by coronavirus, Government funding is still available and we would encourage you to check whether you are eligible for any of the grants on offer. You can find details on all of the grants, and apply, here: Coronavirus support for businesses.

Of the available grants, the Government has confirmed that the Local Restrictions Support Grant deadline has been extended until the end of March 2021 for businesses that are yet to apply. So if you are a business in the district that has been required to close during the current national lockdown, please view the eligibility criteria and apply now. There is also a grant scheme available for businesses that have not been required to close but that are still affected by the current national lockdown.

Further Government business rate grants have been announced. These are known as 'restart grants' and will take effect from 1 April 2021. We are waiting for further guidance on these grants but as soon as we can, we will update our website at: Business rates announcements with more information, so please check this page regularly for any updates.

Businesses and community groups benefit from Covid Recovery Grants

We're really pleased to say that through the council's Covid-19 Recovery Grants scheme, we have approved funding for 190 businesses and 66 community groups across the Chichester District. We launched this scheme in August 2020, having made a total of £500,000 available to support organisations that were struggling due to the pandemic but were either not eligible for Government grants or needed additional support. The Covid Recovery Grants scheme is now closed for applications, but you can find out more about how this scheme has supported local businesses and groups in our latest news.

Become a councillor

If you, or someone you know, is interested in becoming a local councillor, you may be interested to know that nominations are being sought to fill a councillor vacancy at Chichester City Council for the West Ward of Chichester, and for the upcoming West Sussex County Council elections taking place on 6 May 2021. Nominations will be open on Tuesday 30 March and will close at 4pm on Thursday 8 April 2021. Anyone wishing to stand as a candidate can ask for more information and a nomination form from our Elections team by calling 01243 521010 or emailing elections@chichester.gov.uk.

New dates announced for Chichester Wellbeing's weight management course

Chichester Wellbeing's free weight management and exercise course, Weigh Better Life, returns from the week commencing 19 April for 12 weeks. Weigh Better Life takes a holistic approach to weight loss, exercise and general wellbeing to ensure lasting changes for life. The course is aimed at sustainable weight loss and exercise habits, rather than a diet, and the approach is rooted in nutrition and science and delivered by a trained nutritionist. The course is FREE for residents of Chichester District with a BMI of between 25 and 40, and spaces are limited. To find out more and to secure a place, email: info@chichesterwellbeing.org.uk.

Stay up to date

Keep up to date on all the latest council news by visiting our Latest News page. Here, you can find:

  • any new media releases
  • our Leader's weekly District Dispatch column, and
  • previous issues of our newsletter that you may have missed.

National news

Guidance on visiting care homes

The Government has updated its guidance on care home visiting in England. This aims to support safe visiting in care homes for working age and older adults, and reflects changes to national restrictions that came into force on 8 March, including:

  • Every care home resident will be able to nominate a single named visitor who will be able to enter the care home for regular visits.
  • These visitors should be tested using rapid lateral flow tests before every visit, must wear the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and follow all other infection control measures (which the care home will guide them on) during visits.
  • Visitors and residents are advised to keep physical contact to a minimum.
  • Visitors and residents may wish to hold hands, but should bear in mind that any contact increases the risk of transmission. There should not be close physical contact such as hugging.
  • Residents with the highest care needs will also be able to nominate an essential care giver who will be able to visit more often. They will have the same testing and PPE arrangements as care home staff so that they can provide extra support, like help with washing and dressing or eating well.

The update also confirms that being on the Shielded Patient List does not prevent a care home resident from receiving visitors. Care homes can continue to offer visits to other friends or family members with arrangements such as outdoor visiting, substantial screens, visiting pods, or behind windows.

Updated guidance for those providing unpaid care

The Government has updated guidance for anyone who provides unpaid care for a friend or family member who cannot cope without their support. The update includes new guidance for those under 25 who provide care for someone.

Free rapid coronavirus tests for all businesses

The Government has announced that all businesses in England, including those with fewer than 50 employees, are now able to sign up to the free coronavirus workplace testing programme .

Businesses are encouraged to register their interest by 31 March to order free lateral flow tests for their employees. Rapid testing detects cases in under 30 minutes, meaning positive cases can isolate immediately, breaking chains of transmission. Regular testing could be the difference between a workplace being able to stay open and operational, or needing to close due to a coronavirus outbreak.

Final findings from Imperial College London and Ipsos MORI study

At the end of last week, Imperial College London and Ipsos MORI published results from the latest significant study into coronavirus infections in England. Final findings from the study show infections fell by two-thirds from the last REACT report in January, with 1 in 204 people infected. The report shows a halving time of 31 days and an R number of 0.86. The report also shows that, while there has been another fall in the number of cases in England, the speed of this decline is slowing. The report can be found on the  Government website .

The Government also continues to publish weekly national influenza and coronavirus reports, monitoring rates of coronavirus, seasonal flu and other seasonal respiratory illnesses. The latest report can be found here: National flu and COVID-19 surveillance reports .

UK Transition Business Support Helplines

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has set up new helplines  to assist UK businesses with enquiries related to the end of the Transition Period.

The Business Support Helpline (0800 998 1098) can help businesses in England identify the actions they need to take. Businesses can also call HMRC's Customs and International Trade Helpline and speak to an adviser on 0300 322 9434 or get in touch by emailing enquiries@businesssupporthelpline.org.

As you'll have seen from previous updates, a range of webinars and videos about trading with the EU are also available to help businesses. Topics covered include importing and exporting goods, moving goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland and details of the Government's cross-border trade forum, designed to help businesses and traders find answers to questions regarding the transition period. Businesses can now access a calendar of upcoming webinars and sign up.

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As the situation around coronavirus changes, it's important that people across our district have the most up-to-date information possible. Please encourage your friends and family to sign up to this newsletter so that we can all be prepared and play our part in the fight against the virus.