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Coronavirus service updates

This is our rolling blog of news and service updates, which will be updated twice daily.

View NHS advice, resident and business helplines and other government guidance on the Wirral Council website

Thursday 9 April - Monday 13 April update

Household waste collections

Green and grey bin collections are slightly behind schedule, but bin crews are working hard to ensure all collections of grey and green bins are caught up by Saturday 11 April. Bin crews will still be collecting bins on Good Friday and Easter Monday. Please put your bin out by 7am on your usual day and it will be collected that day or the next.

Emergency food hub

For residents who are in need of emergency food, for whatever reason, use the Emergency Food Hub's online facility.

For further help and advice call our COVID-19 helpline: Mon to Fri 9am - 5pm (open Good Friday and Easter Monday) on 0151 666 5050 or email covid19enquiries@wirral.gov.uk

Wednesday 8 April update

Household waste collections resume

Biffa resumed collections of green and grey bins on Wednesday morning, following agreement that the current health and safety measures in place are in line with national guidance for waste collection operatives. Read full details of the catch-up plan here

Mental health support

It is understandable to feel vulnerable or overwhelmed as we hear about Coronavirus in the press, on social media or in conversation. Additionally, staying at home during this time, while it will reduce the spread of the virus, comes with its own unique challenges. It’s important to take time, even little and often, to look after ourselves – especially in times of stress. Here are a few extra tips to help support and manage your wellbeing, while at home.

Support for carers

A range of digital resources is available for Carers to provide some extra help during the coronavirus lockdown. A Carer is someone of any age who provides unpaid necessary care and support for a relative, partner or friend.  The care provided could be for someone who is frail, ill or has a disability. Read more about how Wirral Council has joined up with Carers UK to provide a package of support which is free to Carers.

Tuesday 7 April update

Household waste collections

The council has been made aware of a dispute between Biffa and some of their collection staff, that led to a delay in bin collections today. We are continuing to work closely with Biffa in an effort to help them come to a speedy and appropriate resolution so that essential waste collections can resume as soon as possible and we can put arrangements in place to catch-up on any missed collections. In the meantime, residents whose collection has been missed are advised to leave their bin out as they will be prioritised under any catch-up plan.

Monday 6 April update

Support for local businesses

The council is distributing more than £15m of grants to Wirral businesses - helping them to continue through the Coronavirus outbreak. Since we launched the claims process on 30 March, 2,271 businesses have submitted claims via our website, and approved claims were paid out as soon as the Government released the funds last Wednesday. This money is providing relief and reassurance to both business-owners and their employees and staff worked extra hours over the weekend to process the applications as quickly and smoothly as possible.

Beware of scammers

The council is aware that both locally and nationally, scammers are using the COVID-19 pandemic to carry out fraud. Please be extra vigilant during this time, and make your friends and family aware of the risks. Look out for emails or text messages asking you to click unknown links or open attachments, or if someone gets in touch to say they can offer compensation for cancelled travel or event plans. Fraudsters may also offer you hard-to-get products like hand sanitiser, facemasks or vaccines, or claim to be raising money for charity. If you suspect fraud in Wirral, please report it online or call 0800 731 5783.

Online exhibition

If you didn't get chance this weekend, check out the Williamson Gallery's Art & Photography Exhibition for 2020 when you can - it's online this year for the first time. You can even vote for your favourite at the museum website

Friday 3 April update

Hilbre Island closes to visitors

Hilbre Island has today closed to visitors following government guidelines to help tackle COVID-19 (coronavirus). This closure will help the council to prioritise health and safety, observe social distancing guidance, and reduce the spread of coronavirus. Visiting Hilbre Island is considered a non-essential journey, and closing will also help to reduce pressure on essential resources should emergency assistance be required. Parks across Wirral, however, will remain open for people to exercise.

Reminder: Help with paying Council Tax

Announced yesterday, Wirral Council has announced a range of options to support residents who are struggling to pay their Council Tax. The options include spreading the cost over 12 instead of ten payments, applying for Council Tax Support, and a further reduction for working-age residents already in receipt of Council Tax Support. The council has also reminded residents still worried about paying their bill to contact the Council Tax team for advice.

Fly-tippers warned they face prosecution

Having seen a marked increase in reports of fly-tipping across the borough since the nation went into lockdown, Wirral Council is warning it will continue to take a tough line on incidents of fly-tipping and will keep on investigating all reports with a view to prosecuting those responsible. Residents are urged to dispose of their waste responsibly through the regular kerbside collections - or hold onto it until COVID-19 passes. Fly-tipping will never be tolerated, but even less so at this time when all available resources are concentrated on keeping essential services going.

Thursday 2 April update

Birkenhead Market delivering the goods

Birkenhead Market traders are working together to provide home deliveries of essential fresh food to local communities and businesses in need. They’re now serving 300-500 customers each day with fresh fruit, veg, bread, fish and meat with even more calling for home deliveries. A local care home has also used the service after being told they couldn't buy in bulk from a supermarket to feed their service users. Social distancing measures are in place at the market to help keep everyone safe and orders for delivery are taken over the phone.

Help with council tax

The Government has confirmed a £500m national 'hardship fund' to help people who already receive Council Tax Support get a further reduction on their bill. Working-age Wirral residents who receive Council Tax Support will have a £150 reduction applied to their bill automatically, there is no need to apply.

Other support measures in place include:-

  • Council tax payments can be made over 12 months, instead of 10, to spread the cost of lower the monthly amount.
  • People on a reduced income can apply for council tax support if they have not done so already

Any resident who may be experiencing difficulty in meeting their bills should contact the council as soon as possible.

Domestic abuse support

While residents will be following Government advice and staying home to help reduce the risk of COVID-19, we know there are vulnerable people in our communities who will be concerned about the prospect of staying home – particularly those who are dealing with domestic abuse, violence, and coercive or controlling behaviour.

The council continues to work with Merseyside Police and providers of domestic abuse support to maintain essential services for anyone affected during the weeks and months ahead. Advice and information is available by telephone, text message or online services. Find out more on our Wirral View story. This information is publicly available and can be shared with anyone who may need it.

Wednesday 1 April update

Shielding

The council is offering extra support to local residents who need to 'shield'. You may have seen information about 'shielding' - this is something put in place to protect people whose health is extremely vulnerable. People asked to shield will need to minimise all interaction between themselves and others, for at least 12 weeks. Residents should have been contacted directly by the Government if they need to shield but the council will also be making contact to offer additional support such as help getting food.

Free school meals over Easter

Last week, Wirral Council stepped in to ensure any child who was entitled to a free school meal would not go without a lunch now schools are closed. This was to bridge the gap until the national scheme from the Government was up and running. The national scheme is now in place but we've extended our commitment to those children to cover what would have been the Easter school holidays. So, any Wirral child entitled to a free school meal during term time, will also get food vouchers or gift cards provided to their family to cover the Easter period as well. 

Bonfires and barbecues

The council and Merseyside Fire and Rescue have issued an urgent joint appeal for residents to not light bonfires or barbecues at the moment. Coronavirus can cause significant respiratory problems for people who contract the virus. When they are trying to manage symptoms at home and following health advice by opening windows as much as possible, smoke from neighbouring properties or nearby allotments can cause breathing difficulties to become critically worse.

Tuesday 31 March update

Emergency food hub

Wirral’s new Emergency Food Hub, a partnership between the council and community food providers, has launched an online facility to provide a single point of contact for residents who need urgent help to get food. Residents who are in need of emergency food, for whatever reason.  Anyone who is unable to go online, or has problems completing the form, should call the Wirral Coronavirus Helpline on 0151 666 5050.

Wirral Foodbank donations

As the need for food support has increased and donations and supplies have been disrupted, Wirral Foodbank is encouraging shoppers who can spare a few additional items to make a donation at one of their collection points at supermarkets. 

Monday 30 March: afternoon update

Garden waste collections

Brown bin collections have been suspended until further notice due to reductions in the number of collection staff and to ensure green and grey bins can continue to be collected without disruption. Green and grey bin collections are now running on schedule and bins should be put out on all residents' usual collection day as normal. 

Monday 30 March: morning update

Council buildings

Wallasey Town Hall, Birkenhead Town Hall, Bromborough Civic Centre, Conway Centre, Hamilton Building and Rock Ferry OSS were officially closed from Friday 27 March. Marriss House will close at 5pm today.  A review of all buildings will be taken at weekly intervals. 

Customer services

The One Stop Shop at Conway Street is now closed, which means all are closed until further notice. The council's Contact Centre will be operating on reduced hours from today, 9am – 5pm. Click here for the latest updates.

Weekend (28-29 March) update

Emergency Food Hub

The council and community food providers are coming together to make sure vulnerable residents don’t go hungry during the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) situation. A new initiative will see Feeding Birkenhead, Supporting Wirral, Wirral Foodbank and other third sector food providers, coordinating efforts and centralising their bulk food collection and distribution operations at a new Emergency Food Hub, which will be managed by Wirral Council. Further details of Wirral’s emergency food response, including the new arrangements for people to request help, will be released in the coming week.

Support for the self-employed

The council has pledged £100,000 to support self-employed residents during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis while they wait for financial assistance from central government. Anyone looking to apply for help through the Local Welfare Assistance Scheme, should visit the council website and check their eligibility

Support for businesses

From tomorrow, Monday 30 March, businesses will be able to go online to claim cash grants to support them at this time. A one-off grant of £10,000 has been earmarked for all active businesses currently eligible for small business rate relief (SBRR) or rural rate relief to help meet their ongoing business costs. In addition to this, a one-off, cash grant of up to £25,000 will be available for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses. Full details of all support measures in place for businesses can be found on the Wirral Council website.

Free school meal vouchers

Wirral children who normally get free school meals will receive vouchers to cover the cost of food, as Wirral Council steps in to ensure no child goes without a lunch now schools are closed. There are plans for a Government scheme to support children eligible for free school meals but it is not yet in place. In Wirral, the council has put its own scheme in place, in partnership with local schools, to bridge the gap. 

Allotments

Allotments remain open and accessible to allotment holders, however if you tend your plot please follow the government’s guidelines on hand washing and social distancing. Allotment holders who are currently self-isolating and/or cannot tend their plot, ‘non-cultivation’ notices and inspections have been suspended until the end of June to ensure your plot will not be taken from you as a result. For those interested in applying for an allotment plot, providing proof of ID ‘in person’ is not required for the period to the end of September 2020, however this will be required retrospectively.

Public Rights of Way

Public Rights of Way remain open however, footpath user paths are asked to follow the latest Government guidance on hand washing and social distancing to protect themselves and others. People should not gather on these paths, Police have the authority to disperse groups and should be informed if happening.

On-street disabled parking bay applications

Any new on-street disabled parking bay (OSDPB) applications have been suspended as applications need to be signed by a doctor and submitted as a paper copy. This will prevent vulnerable and at-risk residents visiting their local GP surgery, Post Office or One Stop shop and will protect them and others during this time. All existing applications registered on the system will continue to be assessed and delivered in line with the agreed criteria.

Registrars

From Monday 30 March, Wirral Registrars will be closed to the public temporarily. Deaths can be registered remotely by phone.

Highways work

Some highways inspections will continue to ensure that routes for key workers and essential operations can continue, protecting residents. Please do not approach highway staff whilst they are working - only essential work is being carried out.

Friday 27 March update

InfoBank launched

Today saw the launch of a new online resource aimed at matching residents with the local support they need during the COVID-19 situation. The Wirral InfoBank website has an easy-to-use search facility, which shows what help is available nearby simply by residents inserting their home postcode.

The new platform will also:

  • help people individuals to register to volunteer with local groups and the NHS
  • allow community, voluntary and faith groups to tell us how they might be able to help
  • register offers of help from local businesses, match their expertise and resources with local need
  • signpost to the most up-to-date national health information

The InfoBank is part of a package of wider preparations to focus resources on the most critical services, while ensuring residents get the information they need. It joins the Wirral Coronavirus helpline, launched last Friday for residents. The helpline specifically helps residents who aren’t ‘online’ to access information from the Council and some of its partner organisations.

Bin collections

Crews are working hard to make all brown bin collections by the end of the weekend. Requests for additional brown or grey bins have been suspended until further notice. You can read more here. Advice has also been issued for residents on measures they can take to better safeguard collection crews at this time.

Invigor8 memberships for Wirral leisure centres

All direct debit payments for memberships have automatically been suspended (from 21 March) until Leisure Centres re-open and annual subscriptions will be extended in line with the closure period. 

Tree Maintenance

The Council’s tree maintenance contractor, Mancoed, are now only undertaking emergency safety related tree maintenance works in line with the latest government guidance. Tree inspections are essential work and will continue in order to protect the safety of our residents.

Thursday 26 March: afternoon update

Libraries

Any items or books currently on loan from libraries around the borough will be automatically renewed. Libraries are also offering a number of online services allowing residents to access e-books, newspapers and resources. Library staff are also making phone calls to isolated library users who may not have digital access.

Beware of potential scams

Unscrupulous and heartless scammers are using the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to carry out frauds and scams around the world, including here at home in Wirral. The nature of the crimes ranges from illegal sales, where victims have made purchases online from fraudulent traders, to phishing scams, which use emails or text messages to trick people into opening malicious attachments or revealing personal information. Read more about how you can take steps to avoid becoming a victim of one of these schemes…

Self-employed survey

Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram has been lobbying central government to support the self-employed through this time. They're looking to hear from people in the city region who are freelance, self-employed and sole-traders to understand the impact of COVID-19. Take part in the survey...

Thursday 26 March: morning update

Highways

All planned roadworks, major projects and schemes have been suspended - unless they are essential safety works. This has been agreed with our contractors and partners in order to help protect residents and staff. Essential inspections and highway repairs on our roads, footways and streetlights will continue as necessary to maintain safety on the network.

Funeral services

From Friday 27 March, the number of mourners that are permitted to attend a funeral, both burials at graveside and cremations/burials within our chapels (Landican and Frankby) will be reduced to a maximum of 15 people. This is an unfortunate but necessary update to allow for national social distancing guidelines. Non-essential services in this area will be suspended with further changes being made in order to protect the safety of residents and staff during this time.

Wednesday 25 March: afternoon update

One Stop Shops

Due to the number of staff having to self-isolate we will now only be able to offer a One Stop Shop service at the Conway Centre to all Wirral residents. Waiting times will be longer than normal. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.

Parks: are they open for your hour of exercise?

All public parks are open, but children's playgrounds, enclosed sports pitches, outdoor gyms and Wirral municipal golf courses are all now closed.   Please remember to keep two metres apart from others: that’s roughly the width of two park benches or one and a half bikes.  

Registrars: Births, Marriages, and Deaths

Wirral Register Office is now only open for death registrations. All birth and notice of marriage appointments have been deferred for the foreseeable future.  All marriage ceremonies have been cancelled for the foreseeable future. If you need to contact the register office, please email rbdm@wirral.gov.uk

COVID-19 WhatsApp

The government have launched a new WhatsApp service as a trustworthy source to keep you updated on any new Coronavirus news. To use the free service, add 07860 064422 in your phone contacts and then message the word ‘hi’ in a WhatsApp message to get started.

Lady Lever Art Gallery

This stunning gallery may be temporarily closed, but you can still enjoy their world class art from the comfort of your own home. Enjoy some of their collections whilst socially distancing.

Wednesday 25 March: morning update

Street cleansing and weeding

Street cleansing services are being prioritised to specific parts of the service and highway weeding is going to be suspended for three weeks as Wirral Council continues to introduce measures to respond to COVID-19 and government announcements.

Grafitti and flyposting

Graffiti and flyposting will only be removed in the next three weeks if it is offensive, while vehicular crossings and access markings won't take place over the same time frame.

Business support grants

Central government have released guidance on businesses eligible for grants to help with staffing costs, VAT, business rates and more to support operations during the current COVID-19 situation.

Youth, adult and visitor services

  • Youth Services: All youth hubs, youth clubs and youth outreach has now stopped. We are in the process of working with partners to provide online access to support and activities for young people.
  • Adult Care: Day care services have been largely stepped down across Wirral. Wirral Evolutions, who support around 400 people now only have four people who absolutely require this support attending at Pensby Wood for three days a week. Age UK have stopped day care and are focused on providing support for people in their homes, with Council assistance.   
  • West Kirby Marine Lake: The path around the Marine Lake is closed as the nature of the path and its popularity means it will be difficult to maintain social distancing.
  • Visitor Centres: All visitor centres around the borough are officially closed.
  • Jobcentres: Now closed. Customers can access support online at dwp.gov.uk  In an emergency only, customers can call their Jobcentre directly on the following numbers: Bromborough - 0151 644 4462. Birkenhead - 0151 551 6658 / 0151 268 6395 / 0151 551 8696. Upton - 0151 551 6536 

Your NHS needs you

Last night Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock called for an urgent appeal for 250,000 volunteers to support our NHS. If you'd like to join their army of volunteers, please sign up!

Social distancing

We really appreciate everyone's efforts in helping slow down the spread of COVID-19. The easiest way of doing this is to continue socially distancing and avoid non-essential travel.   If you must leave the house for food supplies or exercise, please remember to keep 2 metres away from everyone else - this is roughly the length of a surfboard or 2 guitars.

Shielding

If you or a family member are classed as high risk of severe illness from COVID-19, shielding will help protect your family. This requires the high risk person to stay home at all times and avoid face-to-face contact for a period of at least 12 weeks. If you have others in your household who are not at high risk, they are not required to adopt this, but follow guidance on social distancing.

And finally...

If you want to read your newspaper without leaving the house - now you can!

Wirral Libraries now have full image editions of: The Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, The Daily Telegraph, and The Liverpool Echo as well as text content of all UK newspapers including the Wirral Globe. To access this, log into your library account.

Tuesday 24 March

Public parks and municipal golf courses

All Wirral Council public parks remain open for people to use for one hour of exercise per day. Areas such as children’s playgrounds, enclosed sports pitches and outdoor gyms will be closed until further notice.

It is vital that visits to any of our parks follow the latest government rules, particularly those on social distancing.

All Wirral municipal golf courses are now closed until further notice. 

Household waste recycling centres

Following the Prime Minister's latest announcement, visits to household waste recycling centres across Merseyside are closed with immediate effect and until further notice.

For regular updates on household recycling centres, visit the MRWA website or visit the council's 'find a tip' webpage.

Monday 23 March

Catch-up plan for missed bin collections

In light of the Government’s recommendations about social distancing, Wirral Council and Biffa have been working hard this morning to put measures in place to keep bin collection crews as safe as possible while carrying out their duties.

Unfortunately, this has meant that regular collections have not been able to go ahead today as normal. However, collections will resume tomorrow with bins scheduled for collection today instead being collected tomorrow (Tuesday). A full catch-up schedule for this week has been released.

Children's centres

From 4pm today (Monday 23rd March) both Pensby Children’s Centre and Rock Ferry Children’s Centre will temporarily close.  This will enable our efforts to be more effective through the following sites:

  • Bromborough Children’s Centre (covering Wirral South and Wirral West)
  • Seacombe Children’s Centre (Wallasey)
  • Brassey Gardens (Birkenhead)

Following Government’s advice and adhering to social distancing and reduced contacts, Children’s Centre sessions will be suspended and the offer to families will be via telephone, email, the MyChildCan and Wirral Council Facebook feeds and websites. More information is available here.

Friday 20 March

Bin collection contingency plans

Contingency plans have been put in place for bin collections to ensure the most vital services are delivered as Wirral continues to manage the impact of COVID-19 (Coronavirus).  

The council anticipates higher levels of absence as COVID-19 continues to impact daily lives. This means having to prioritise services based on the potential impact on health.

New helplines for residents and businesses

Wirral Council has launched a new telephone helpline for residents and businesses during the ongoing COVID-19 situation.

The helpline will provide a ‘front door’ to advice and support from the Council and its partner organisations, including:

  • Residents who need support with their day-to-day needs
  • Residents or organisations wishing to volunteer
  • Signposting for national health advice
  • Support for local businesses and organisations (not just Wirral Chamber members)
  • Advice about education arrangements

Limits on number of mourners at funerals

Numbers of mourners at funerals are to be limited as part of measures to tackle the spread of Coronavirus.

The council is now asking families and funeral directors to limit the number of people attending funerals at cemeteries and crematorium to no more than 30 mourners.

Thursday 19 March

Leisure centres to close

All Wirral leisure and sports centres, including West Kirby Concourse, the Oval Leisure Centre, Europa Pools, Leasowe Leisure Centre, Guinea Gap Leisure Centre, Woodchurch Leisure Centre and the Wirral Tennis and Sports Centre, are to close indefinitely after today (Thursday 19th March 2020) due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation.

As a consequence, all classes and activities - including swimming and tennis lessons - are suspended until further notice. This also extends to our community-based Sports Development sessions and disability programme.

All direct debit payments for memberships will automatically be suspended from 21st March 2020 until Leisure Centres re-open and annual subscriptions will be extended in line with the closure period.

Libraries to close

Wirral Libraries will be closed temporarily from 5pm today (Thursday 19 March) until further notice.

The temporary closure includes all library events and activities. Residents are encouraged to sign up or join online, where they can access a wide range of e-books and e-audio for free. To sign up, they need to fill out a short form giving their name, address, and contact details.

Borrowers who have books which are due back to the libraries during the closure period will have any fines waived.

Chamber launches business support helpline

The government has announced financial measures to support businesses during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Businesses will be able to access some of this support through the council and we are working on providing this support as quickly as possible.

In the meantime, Wirral Chamber of Commerce have launched a helpline for all Wirral businesses and community organisations: please call 0151 650 6982 or email policy@wirralchamber.co.uk