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‘If you don’t want us to ban exercise of all forms outside of your home, you’ve got to follow the rules’ says Health Secretary as Crawley closes car parks at Tilgate park

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The warnings have been published across all forms of media. But as the majority of people follow a few just do not seem to be heading the warnings.

As the hottest weekend of the year continues then so do the reports of people sunbathing, meeting friends and just not following the rules that have been set out.

Now Crawley Borough Council has taken the step to close the car parks at Tilgate Park in an attempt to help enforce the rules.

Please use the following guidance in order to stay safe:

  • stay local and use open spaces near to your home where possible – do not travel unnecessarily
  • you should only go outside alone or with members of your own household
  • keep at least 2 metres apart from anyone outside your household at all times
  • gatherings of more than two in parks or other public spaces have been banned and the police will enforce this
  • if you have a garden, make use of the space for exercise and fresh air
  • take hygiene precautions when you are outside, and wash your hands as soon as you are back indoors
  • if walking your dog in areas used by other people, you should walk your dog on a lead to ensure you can safely keep 2 metres away from others.

At supermarkets there have been arguments witnessed as some families turned up together to go shopping and couldn’t understand why they were not allowed in together while some single parents found themselves being told to leave their young children at home with someone to look after them.

But despite what ‘hearsay’ has been banded around the supermarkets have said they are trying to accomodate single parents with a young child where they can.

The Government has published clearly the rules which say:

1. When am I allowed to leave the house?

You should only leave the house for very limited purposes:

  • shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible
  • one form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household
  • any medical need, including to donate blood, avoid or escape risk of injury or harm, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
  • travelling for work purposes, but only where you cannot work from home

Learn more about social distancing here.

2. Can I go to the dentist, my GP or another medical appointment?

You can leave home for medical appointments.

GP practices may postpone non-urgent health checks or routine appointments.

You should go to the doctor if there is an essential medical need.

3. Can I walk my dog / look after my horse?

Yes – provided it is alone or with members of your household.

People must stay at home as much as possible to reduce the spread of the virus. But you can also still go outside once a day for a walk, run, cycle. When doing this you must minimise the time you are out of your home and stay at least two metres away from anyone else that isn’t from your household.

More advice for animal owners here.

4. Should I stay at home or go to work?

You may travel for work purposes, but only where you cannot work from home.

Certain jobs require people to travel to their place of work – for instance if they operate machinery, work in construction or manufacturing, or are delivering front line services such as train and bus drivers.

Employers and employees should discuss their working arrangements, and employers should take every possible step to facilitate their employees working from home, including providing suitable IT and equipment to enable remote working.

5. I’m not a critical worker and I can’t work from home. What should I do?

If you cannot work from home then you can still travel to work. This is consistent with the Chief Medical Officer’s advice.

Critical workers are those who can still take their children to school or childcare. This critical worker definition does not affect whether or not you can travel to work – if you are not a critical worker, you may still travel to work provided you cannot work from home.

Anyone who has symptoms or is in a household where someone has symptoms should not go to work and should self-isolate.

6. How can I find out if my work is essential or not?

The government is not saying only people doing “essential” work can go to work. Anyone who cannot work from home can still go to work.

Separately, there is a list of critical workers who can still take their children to school or childcare. Provision has been prioritised for these workers.

Every worker – whether critical or not – should work from home if they can but may otherwise travel to work.

We have also asked certain businesses where people gather, such as pubs and most shops, to close. Separate guidance has been published on this.

7. Can I see my friends?

We must all stay away from each other to stop spreading the virus, and that means you should not be meeting friends unless you live in the same household.

Instead, you could keep in touch with your friends using phone or video calls.

8. Can I visit elderly relatives?

No, you should not be visiting family members who do not live in your home.

You should keep in touch with them using phone or video calls.

Where your relatives are elderly or vulnerable, you may leave your house to help them, for example by dropping shopping or medication at their door. You can also help them to order online.

9. Can I go out to help a vulnerable person?

You can only provide support to vulnerable people if you fulfil all of the conditions below:

  • you are well and have no symptoms like a cough or high temperature and nobody in your household does
  • you are under 70
  • you are not pregnant
  • you do not have any long-term health conditions that make you vulnerable to coronavirus

If the answer is yes to everything above, you may leave your house to provide care or to help a vulnerable person, following the advice set out here.

When outside the home, you should stay at least two metres away from others wherever possible.

We have seen an incredible effort across the country already, and we’re hugely grateful to those who support the vulnerable in their communities by volunteering day-to-day.

10. My boss is forcing me to go to work but I’m scared of coronavirus. What should I do?

Employers must make all efforts to help people to work from home where possible, as this will help limit the spread of the virus by reducing the amount of contact between people.

In some circumstances this may be impossible – this would apply to those working for a business or organisation that we have not asked to close and requires them to travel and be at work, such as train or bus drivers, construction workers, restaurant workers handling deliveries or those on the frontline like NHS workers.

For these workers who need to be at work, do not have symptoms or live with anyone who has symptoms, and are not vulnerable people, we have outlined clear guidance for employers to help protect workers.

11. I can’t go to work because I need to look after my child, but my boss is threatening to sack me if I don’t. What should I do?

We would urge employers to take socially responsible decisions and listen to the concerns of their workforce – particularly when they have childcare responsibilities.

Employers and employees should come to an agreement about these arrangements.

If individuals need advice they should approach ACAS where they can get impartial advice about in-work disputes.

12. Can I move house?

Homebuyers and renters should, where possible, delay moving to a new house while measures are in place to fight coronavirus.

If moving is unavoidable for contractual reasons and the parties are unable to reach an agreement to delay, people must follow advice on staying away from others to minimise the spread of the virus.

There is detailed guidance on moving house during the coronavirus outbreak here.

13. Can I go to the park?

You can still go to the park for outdoor exercise once a day but only alone or with members of your household, not in groups.

Communal places within parks such as sports courts, playgrounds and outdoor gyms have been closed to protect everyone’s health.

We ask that households use parks responsibly and keep 2 metres apart from others at all times.

Unless you are with members of your household, gatherings of more than two people in parks and other public spaces have been banned. The police have the powers to disperse gatherings and issue fines if necessary.

14. Can I drive to a national park or other green space to walk?

We advise you to stay local and use open spaces near to your home where possible – do not travel unnecessarily.

You can still go to the park for outdoor exercise once a day but only by yourself or within your household, not in groups.

We ask you to keep 2 metres apart from others outside your household at all times when outdoors.

15. What will happen to me if I break the rules?

We appreciate all the effort people are putting into containing the spread of coronavirus which will help protect our NHS and save lives.

However, if you leave your home or gather in public for any reason other than those specified, the police may:

  • instruct you to go home, leave an area or disperse
  • instruct you to take steps to stop your children breaking these rules if they have already done so
  • take you home – or arrest you – if you do not follow their instructions or where they deem it necessary
  • issue a fine (fixed penalty notice) of £60, which will be lowered to £30 if paid within 14 days.
  • issue a fine (fixed penalty notice) of £120 for second time offenders, doubling on each further repeat offence

Individuals who do not pay their fine could be taken to court, with magistrates able to impose unlimited fines.

Community

As a hot weekend approaches Southern Water asks Crawley residents to use water wisely as demand soars

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Before anyone thinks it’s about a water shortage, it isn’t. It’s about water demand and there is a difference.

The UK is ten weeks into lockdown, with many hundreds of thousands of people at home all day who wouldn’t normally be.

This means a lot of additional hand washing and increased usage in the home (more showers, more washing and more cleaning and cooking etc.)

With all the glorious sunny weather then of course paddling pools, hose pipes and sprinklers are all on the cards.

After all, people are all stuck at home unable to go to the beach or away on holiday as many would normally at this time of year – so those with gardens want to make the most of them, stay cool and water plants.

And with one of the wettest Januarys and Februarys on record there is no problem right?

Well, it’s not that clear cut and here’s why…

Yes there is enough water sat in reservoirs right now thanks to the rain we have experienced, however, water of course has to go through a process to make it safe before it arrives at your tap.

On an average day, Southern Water treat and supply 538 million litres of water – enough to make half the world’s population a cup of tea.

In lockdown, people are using between 10 and 20 per cent more than usual. But even with the extra demand of lockdown, we can treat more than enough water.

However, in hot weather demand really soars and then it becomes difficult to keep up. Imagine being in a shower when someone turns on a tap downstairs – the water slows to a trickle.

And the hot weather coupled with the extra people at home has meant we are seeing some really high peaks throughout the day; in fact some days during lockdown we have seen an extra 60 million litres demand!

Sprinklers, hoses and paddling pools require extreme large quantities of water, something we should be mindful of during a normal summer anyway, but if that demand hits the network at the same time (which lockdown is causing it to do) it causes demand to out weigh supply.

Quite simply, if lots of people fill pools and use hoses and sprinklers – the water supply has to be split between all demands.

So you see, this is why water companies like Southern are asking everyone across the country to use water wisely during lockdown – the demand on the hot days is too high. The water treatment works which are more than capable of producing more than enough water for all essential use are very suddenly stretched.

Especially as these days fewer people have the single occupancy child paddling pools which only take a few litres and are opting for the larger versions – most pools are now between 500 and 1000 litres, with some whoppers as big as 3500 litres – that’s a lot of water! It’s worth noting that as we move further into summer; these sums of water can also go on to cause a water shortage too.

Based on just one average 500-1000 litre pool it takes equivalent amount of water for around:

We hope that this helps to make it clear that thanks to the wet weather over winter we are currently in the lucky position that there is no water shortage, but that Southern Water are joining forces with all water companies across the UK to ask people to use water wisely during lockdown, so that demand can be met at all times.

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