Coronavirus Update from Somerset County Council

Updated 1st April 2020 at 15:50 pm



Colleagues, I wrote to you all yesterday thanking you for your support to our redeployment effort and urging all managers to release those who we need.

I now have an urgent appeal for volunteers.

We are establishing two new care homes, one in Yeovil and one in Wellington with the potential of more to come.  These homes will care for some of our most elderly and frail residents as we look to safely discharge patients from hospital whilst we support and protect our NHS.  These residents will be people well enough to leave hospital but with continuing care needs and who need a bit more support before they can safely go home.  In short, these homes will be our own local care versions of Nightingales.

I need your help now.  We urgently needs volunteers who can help with meal preparation, porters and importantly with care assistant duties.  We need to start training people this week as we are expecting the Yeovil site to come on line within the next week.  I cannot overstate the importance of this initiative.  We are a care organisation.  Year round we care for the vulnerable and we need to do so now like never before.  So I need 50 volunteers now with numbers possibly rising to 200 over the coming week.

It doesn’t matter what you are doing at the moment, we can equip you with the skills needed for these roles. We can also answer any questions you might have, so please send these to the email address below. If you’re worried about your current work, don’t be, we can sort things.”

The email address to register your support is [email protected]

Even if you have already registered as a volunteer please confirm via the email link.  I need your help now.

Thank you, Pat

Pat Flaherty – Chief Executive

Somerset County Council

Information provided by Somerset County Councillor Dean Ruddle

Somerset County Information

Sheet Number: 2020-5

From: Cllr Clare Paul, SCC Cabinet Member for Public Health & Wellbeing and Climate Change
Date: Monday 23 March 2020

Coronavirus Update

Last night, the Government announced it was asking 1.5m people across the UK who have specific health conditions to self-isolate for the next 12 weeks. The Government also guaranteed that those same people will be supported to stay at home for the full 12 weeks by national and local government working with supermarkets, the military and volunteers.


The details are still emerging but we are already assessing and progressing with that task here in Somerset. Over the coming days, we will have a vital role to play on contact and wellbeing, emergency food and supplies. While it appears the food parcel scheme will operate on a national level, we are developing a workforce-based Somerset model to fill the inevitable gaps and provide a framework for volunteers in Somerset.


This will clearly be a major task and we are reviewing resources and redeploying our staff to ensure we WILL rise to the challenge. It does mean some of our current services will slow, withdraw or stop completely, but it is right that we focus our support on our most vulnerable residents.


Social distancing – keep a ‘physical distance’ from others

The guidelines for ‘social distancing’ are to encourage everyone to reduce the number of social interactions they have with other people to help reduce the spread of the virus. Older people and those with underlying health conditions should be particularly stringent when following this guidance.


Many people have taken these new measures on board and are now reducing the contact they have with friends and family. However, with the good weather this weekend we saw some areas of our county extremely busy with visitors.


COVID-19 spreads through droplets in coughs and sneezes and we think that every person who gets the virus spreads it to at least another 2-3 people, who in turn will then infect another 2-3 people. The sacrifices we make now to reduce our social interactions are the best thing we can do to not only protect us as individuals but stop the spread of the disease through our communities and give our NHS and wider health and care system the best possible chance.  If you do have to go out, for work, essential travel or for exercise, then you need to keep a ‘physical distance’ of at least 2 metres from other people.


Self isolation

Anyone who develops symptoms of COVID-19 (a new, continuous cough and/or a high temperature) must stay at home for 7 days from the onset of their symptoms. All members of the household must stay at home for 14 days from the onset of symptoms. As much as possible, when self-isolating, you should not even go out of the house to buy food and other essential items.

It is very important that people stay in their primary residence at this time, and for the foreseeable future and do not travel to second homes, camp sites, caravan parks or similar, either for isolation or holidays. Doing so puts additional pressure on local communities and the health and care services available.



Following Government guidance, educational sites are now closed to most students until further notice. Vulnerable pupils and children of key workers can continue to attend but we must not put an unnecessary burden on our schools and we are encouraging staff – even those allocated as key workers – to keep their children at home wherever possible.

Individual schools should be making their own arrangements to provide online learning resources and parents should contact their child’s school or college directly if they have any queries.

Further details about schools, provision and school meals are available here.


Somerset Waste Partnership

All 16 recycling centres were closed today (23 March). This decision was taken by Viridor, which operates the sites for the partnership, to ensure the safety of the public and staff  with concerns about being able to maintain the required physical distancing. Viridor have said the sites will remain closed until they can be operated safely.

All garden waste collections have been suspended until further notice, due to Coronavirus-related staff absences, however, all today’s recycling and refuse collections were scheduled to take place as normal today.

For the latest information on service disruption and guidance on disposing of potential contaminated waste, please visit and follow @somersetwaste on Twitter and Facebook


GP practices in Somerset moving to phone and online triage

As the Chief Medical Officer has said, as coronavirus expands, routine services will come under pressure, but the NHS will flex its response in line with well-established escalation plans, backed by regular guidance to local health services, including GP practices, which is being regularly updated.

As a precaution to protect patients, staff and the public, GP appointments will be triaged online or over the phone to make sure that patients are cared for by the right person, in the right place for their illness and GP surgery doors will be kept open where possible.


Working from home

The Heart of the South West LEP’s Digital Skills Partnership is supporting communities that are increasingly working from home by formulating a guide to digital tools and freely available digital training to support the use of those tools. They have a list of free online learning facilities that cover topics for all skill levels. The resources are available by subscribing to their newsletter, you can sign up here. Another useful guide to working from home can be found at

Please visit our website for more useful advice for businesses.


How communities can help

We continue to urge everyone to look out for friends, family, neighbours and the community, but most of all yourself.  It’s important you stay safe, so you can continue to help others.

If you represent a community group, or would like to join one, please visit our website for useful links.


Stay up to date

Latest Somerset County Council Coronavirus service updates can be found online at And to keep up-to-date with all the latest COVID-19 information, visit the NHS site at


Many thanks


Cllr Clare Paul