This week the government announced its plan for living safely with Covid-19. The plan centres on vaccines as the first line of defence against coronavirus and encourages safe behaviours based on public health advice, rather than restrictions enforced by law.
The plan acknowledges that Covid-19 is here to stay and explains that the virus will be managed in future in a similar way to other infectious diseases such as flu. The prevalence of Covid is decreasing and there is great progress being made on treatments. Nonetheless, the lifting of the restrictions designed to keep us all safe may be a source of anxiety for those who feel vulnerable. As we adjust to the new normal, we can support one another by remembering the simple precautions and consideration for others that have become part of everyday life.
In this update we will outline the implications of the new approach for people in Leeds, and the support available for individuals, businesses and communities as we look ahead to the Covid recovery period.
Living with Covid in England
The government’s living with Covid plan is being phased in between now and April and includes some key changes that will impact families and individuals.
Self-isolation is no longer legally enforced if you test positive for Covid-19. Instead you are strongly advised to self-isolate until you test negative on two consecutive days. The rules requiring close contacts to test or isolate, depending on their age and vaccination status, have ceased to apply and contact tracing has stopped.
As a result, provision for people self-isolating has ended, including support payments, nationally funded practical assistance and medicine delivery services. The Covid-19 provisions which expedited the payment of statutory sick pay and employment support allowance will end on 24 March. For help and advice if you are struggling financially visit help with food and household bills on the council website.
Testing provision will be scaled back under the living with Covid plan to focus on the most at-risk groups. Lateral flow tests will no longer be freely available after 31 March. Refreshed guidance will be issued advising people how to maintain safe behaviours and minimise the risk of infection for themselves and others.
In the spring, the vaccination programme will expand to offer an additional booster dose to those most at risk from Covid-19, including over-75s, older care home residents and vulnerable people over the age of 12.
The Covid case rate in Leeds has declined by 26% in the past week, to 348 per 100K. Although the city’s case rate is lower than the rate in England, the trend reflects the national position with infections remaining high despite the gradual fall in numbers.
Public health advice in Leeds is therefore to remain cautious and take whatever action you can to prevent the spread of infection. Please continue to stay at home if you are unwell, let in fresh air when indoors, wash your hands regularly and wear face coverings in crowded indoor spaces.
The Covid vaccination is the best way to protect yourself from infection and serious illness. Whether you need a first, second or booster dose the vaccine offer remains in place across the city. Visit the NHS in Leeds for details of local clinics.
The government’s living with Covid plan addresses future monitoring and management of coronavirus. Leeds City Council’s public health team will continue to work closely with health service colleagues to monitor the local position, contain outbreaks and manage any new variants of concern.
For local information and links to the latest national guidance visit the coronavirus page on the council website.
Applications invited for hospitality and leisure grants
There is still time to apply for financial support if you run a hospitality, leisure or accommodation business which was affected by coronavirus restrictions.
The Omicron hospitality and leisure grant is offered to businesses based in Leeds at premises subject to business rates. Applicants must have been registered as the current rate payer on 30 December 2021.
The grants are worth up to £6,000 depending on the rateable value of your premises. Please apply online by the deadline of Friday 18 March.
Energy bills rebate to reach households via council tax
The government recently announced that in April they will provide a one-off energy bills rebate of £150 for most households in council tax bands A to D. You will not have to repay this money, which is to help you with rising energy costs.
We will administer the payment via the council tax billing system, so if you think you may be eligible you don’t need to do anything for now. We will be in touch with more information shortly once the government has clarified how the system will work.
You may wish to arrange payment by Direct Debit if you don’t already pay your council tax this way. This will help us pay the rebate to you as quickly as possible. Find out more at How to pay your council tax.
Join our outstanding social care team
Are you looking for rewarding work as we move on from Covid-19? Could you make a positive difference to some of the most vulnerable people in Leeds? Our award-winning social care team needs you!
Visit Leeds City Council’s Jobs and careers page to find opportunities for experienced and newly qualified professionals – in social care and many other roles too.
Local theatres stage a recovery with 2-for-1 tickets
The cultural recovery is well underway after successive lockdowns forced the arts sector online during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Leeds theatres are taking part in the Love Your Local Theatre campaign, supported by The National Lottery, which aims to encourage post-Covid recovery in the entertainment industry.
The campaign offers 2-for-1 theatre tickets to National Lottery players. Visit Love Your Local Theatre to find a participating venue near you.
Leeds Lit Fest starts today and runs until 6th March. The city’s award winning festival of words and thought returns for its fourth year and there is a mixture of online and in person events. Many of these are free or pay as you feel.
It will include author talks, a literary quiz, songs from the commoners choir, storytelling, writers workshops, movie nights and lots more
M&S on Film: Marketing M&S! Adverts, adverts and more adverts, looking at how cinema and TV were used to market products. Exploring the history of M&S advertising through archive film collection, from Swinging Sixties cinema adverts to iconic food campaigns.
This is a pre-recorded talk featuring original archive images introduced by the Archivist, who will be available to respond to questions during and following the talk.
Earlier this week the government annouced it’s ‘Living with Covid’ plan meaning that almost all of the covid rules have now been relaxed.
From today it will no longer be a legal requirement to self isolate if you test positive for Covid 19, however the guidance is still to stay at home and avoid contact with others to prevent spreading the virus.
Covid is still around and while the legal restrictions are no longer in place the advice, from government and, emphatically, from health experts is to continue to take precautions to keep yourself and others safe
Also from 1st April, not everyone will be able to book a PCR test if they have symptoms. Tests will still be available for some vulnerable groups, likely to include over 80s and people who are immunosuppressed. The exact list is still being drawn up.
09:50-10:00 Welcome and Introduction to Outing The Past – Leeds.
Councillor Hannah Bithell
10:00-10:30 Alex Holmes (she/her)
The Secret Lives of Scientists. LGBTQ+ representation and inclusion in the sciences has historically been erased or kept separate from the work and knowledge. This continues now with calls to keep science away from politics and topical conversation, but identity- either those doing the science or those having science done unto them – is key in the scientific process, interpretation of results and how they are fed into the wider community.
10:40-11:10 Luna Morgana (she/her)
The Gallus of Catterick. The Gallus of Catterick was an ancient roman trans woman whose remains were discovered in 1982. Join us for a journey through how she would have lived in 4th Century AD Britain.
11:20-11:50 Tilen Kolar (he/him)
Queer Memorials: disrupted space-time. Queer memorials bring past, present and future together – they disrupt heteronormative public spaces. This presentation will reveal some of the reflections from the fieldwork in Amsterdam – how activists and everyday users experience the Homomonument and how they interact with it. I will also share my personal feelings from the fieldwork.
12:00-12:30 Henry Kyem (he/him)
Growing up gay in Ghana. A personal story about growing up gay in an African country (Ghana). Having to come to terms with contracting HIV later in life and fleeing to the UK to avoid persecution from family and society for my sexuality.
13:00-13:30 Freya Stancliffe (she/they)
LGBTQ+ Archives. How can we move towards a more inclusive community history? I’ll be presenting my findings so far on a project looking to increase the visibility and accessibility of LGBTQ+ voices in the internal archives of the University of Leeds. The archives cover reports, correspondence, meeting minute notes and society materials. The presentation will also discuss the next phase of my work, which will be focused on outreach and community engagement, attempting to fill some of the gaps that we found in the archives and change the framing so that there is a more present narrative voice from communities themselves.
13:40-14:10 Aleks Fagelman (they/them)
Presentations of gender in the ancient world: A discussion of the Dresden Satyr and the Hermaphrodite statue. I shall discuss the Dresden Satyr and Hermaphrodite statue, as well as comparing it with other examples of hermaphroditic statues in the ancient world. I shall use this to highlight how the history of intersex and transgender identity is something that is not a modern invention but exists for several thousand years.
Civic buildings in Leeds will be illuminated this week to mark the city reaching the tragic milestone of 2,000 COVID-related deaths since the start of the pandemic.
Landmarks including Leeds Town Hall, Leeds Civic Hall and Leeds City Museum will be lit up until Thursday in recognition of both those who have lost their lives and the front line workers whose tireless efforts have saved so many others.
The buildings will each be lit up in both blue, as a mark of respect for the city’s NHS and care staff, and yellow, the colour for grief awareness.
Councillor James Lewis, leader of Leeds City Council, said: “This is a sombre milestone for the city which should prompt us all to pause and reflect on the unimaginable toll the past two years have taken on those who have lost family members, loved ones and friends.“
It is also an opportunity for us to be proud of the unity and compassion Leeds has shown throughout the darkest days of pandemic and to look towards the days to come with hope and optimism that having endured so much together, we can be closer and stronger than ever.”
Work has also begun on the transformation of the former South Leeds golf course, which will include a ‘Peoples Woodland.’ In partnership with Leeds Hospitals Charity, the woodland will be a space for reflection and peace in memorial of loved ones who lost their lives during the pandemic as well as a tribute to key workers.
Launching various opportunities to share your views
Women’s Lives Leeds would like to invite women to have their say around parks, park safety and what kind of activities you would like to see in the park for women. Activities will then be delivered in each park according to what women want.
The consultation is part of the national Safer Streets government project and the research will feed into local and national channels.
You will receive a £15 voucher for your time
Two Leeds Parks have been selected- Holbeck Moor and Woodhouse Moor.
We are hosting two focus groups in each park area.
Focus groups will last approximately an hour but we ask women to arrive fifteen minutes prior to register and to get tea/coffee etc.
The dates and Eventbrite links are as follows:
Tuesday 15th February 13.00-14.30 The Holbeck – Holbeck Moor Consultation
Our local councillors for Headingley and Hyde Park ward – which also covers most of Woodhouse will be holding their monthly Woodhouse advice surgery at our premises.
They will be at Caring Together on Charing Cross shopping centre (Woodhouse Street, LS6 2PY – across from the Londis shop/Post Office) from 5pm – 6pm on the second Tuesday of the month starting from next Tuesday – 8th February.
Any resident who needs help or advice from the councillors is welcome to come along at this time.