An additional death was recorded in a York Care home on 28th July. It was the first Coronavirus care home fatality since the 14th July and brings the cumulative total to 78. The figures are supplied retrospectively by the Care Quality Commission to the Office of National Statistics (ONS)
The York Council has revealed a whole raft of decisions taken on Wednesday at “behind closed doors” meetings. Although the Council could have chosen to publish the agendas and supporting papers (such as they are) before the meeting took place, it chose not to.
Even those sympathetic to the current administration are now losing confidence in the leadership and its aversion to transparency.
This is likely to weigh against the status quo when the future of the unitary authority is considered during the next few months.
The Business and Planning Act 2020 came into force w/c 20th July and has immediate operational impacts associated to the Covid 19 emergency requiring officers to take actions on behalf of the Council in order to comply with new legal obligations. This therefore requires officers to have appropriate delegations to implement this new legislation.
NB. This legislation provides for
A new “Pavement Licence” regime, to be administered by local authorities, designed to make it easier for premises in England serving food and drink such as bars, restaurants and pubs to seat and serve customers outdoors through temporary changes to planning procedures and alcohol licensing.
Alcohol licensing changes that will allow operators with existing alcohol on-sales licences to also serve alcohol for consumption off the premises and to make deliveries.
So with the Alcohol Restriction Zone/PSPOs policy still up in the air, we seem likely to have nameless officials nodding though even more alcohol consumption on the streets of central York.
The fee for an annual café licence has been set at £100/application, with the option to apply for a shorter, 3 month licence, for a £25 fee “to enable shorter term trials by business who have previously not operated licences and who need to accommodate Covid distancing measures to re open”
To approve a Temporary TRO to change existing access restrictions on Castlegate, implementing the following: a. No vehicular access between 10:30 and 20:00 seven days a week (no exemptions for cyclists or Blue Badge holders, extended hours in line with extended footstreet hours) – between number 12 and number 28 Castlegate; b. Loading ban between 10:30 and 20:00 for the whole length of Castlegate; and c. Enable two way traffic between number 28 Castlegate and the junction with Tower Street 24h/day.
This was the decision publicised on Wednesday. Turns out that the meeting did not receive any statistical analysis or impact assessment. The background is restricted to 13 lines of hand wringing.
Having reviewed the current impacts of the TTRO on Bishopthorpe Road, it is evident as the economy reopens there is increased traffic in the area, in particular there is a negative impact on queue lengths on the inner ring road and the level of traffic on adjacent residential streets e.g. St Benedict’s Road. There will also be additional traffic diversions operating in the area when the Micklegate Bar is closed on 10th August due to gasworks which have already commenced on 24 July. Having considered the latest public health advice and traffic impacts, I confirm the decision to not extend TTRO. This location will be kept under review in light of prevailing Covid 19 advice and further considerations of sustainable traffic interventions at this location will be considered as part of the Local Transport plan development. The feedback collected on the scheme will be reviewed and presented in a future decision session.
Latest York Council COVID-19 commentary (See open data)
DIAGNOSED CASES (Pillar 1 and 2 combined)
• As at 30.7.20 York has had 923 cases, a rate of 439.7 per 100,000 of population. The England rate is 465.4. The Yorkshire & Humber rate is 581.6. York has had 6 new cases in the last week: the most recent cases had a test specimen date of 25.7.20
• The PHE ‘Exceedance’ rating compares the no. of new cases over a 14 day period with the previous 6 weeks and provides a RAG rating to indicate if the previously observed trend in the no. of new cases is worsening. The latest rating for York (28.7.20) is Amber. The amber rating was triggered by a higher than ‘expected’ number of cases per 100 tests in a day (3 cases with a specimen date of 25.7.20). We know that in recent weeks the number of cases have been low in York which has an effect on the thresholds used to determine the RAG rating – a small change can mean the difference between a red, amber and green rating. The exceedance report should not be considered in isolation but in context alongside other factors such as the recent total number of cases, COVID related deaths, outbreaks as well as changes in the local testing regime and local hotspot analysis.
• The weekly rate of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population tested under Pillar 1 and 2 (as at 21.7.20, using the National Covid-19 Surveillance Report released on 23.7.20) was 0.95 for York. York was ranked 8th out of 150 local authorities (with 1 being the lowest rate). The updated report is not yet available at the time of publication.
• As at 28.7.20, the latest 7 day positivity rate (Pillar 2 only) was 0.46% (6 positives out of 1,294 tests). The positivity rate in York is lower than national (1.2%) and regional (2.0%) averages.
The two sources about deaths from Covid-19 at LA level are ONS data and local registrar data. They are derived from the same source (civil registration data). ONS data is more comprehensive as it will include deaths of York residents which have been registered outside York. Local registrar data is useful as it provides a breakdown by age and gender. The most recently available data is summarised below:
• ONS weekly data: For deaths occurring up to 17th July 2020 and registered up to 25th July 2020, 168 deaths were recorded as having occurred for CYC residents (82 in hospital, 73 in care homes, 9 at home, 3 in an hospice and 1 in an ‘other communal establishment’). The number of deaths per 100,000 of population in York is 79.77 which is lower than the national average of 86.68
• ‘Excess’ deaths (ONS). In week 29 (11 July to 17 July), 26 deaths occurred in York, which is 11 fewer than the average weekly number for 2014-18. The peak week for ‘excess’ deaths and for Covid deaths was week18 (25 April to 1 May).
• Local Registrar data: In the weekly data received on 27.7.20 (for deaths occurring up to 22.7.20), a cumulative total of 159 deaths of CYC residents where COVID-19 was mentioned (confirmed or suspected) on the death certificate, have been registered. The average age of the people who died was 82.4, with an age range of 53-104. The age profile of those dying in York is slightly older than the national average. 84 of the 159 were male (52.8%), slightly less than the national average (55%). 80 of the deaths occurred in hospital and 79 were community deaths (e.g. at home or in a care home or hospice). 68 people (42.8%) died in nursing /care homes (the national average is 29.6%). In addition 13 people (8.2%) who normally resided in nursing/care homes in the CYC area, died in hospital.
Data on deaths occurring in hospital are shown below. Deaths are initially reported for York NHS Foundation Trust which includes Scarborough Hospital and the further breakdown by site can be delayed. From local registrar data, 58.6% of COVID-19 deaths occurring at York Hospital have been CYC residents.
• Deaths at York Hospital: As at 30.7.20, 134 deaths of people who had tested positive for COVID-19 and were being cared for at York Hospital have been reported. 214 deaths have been reported by the wider York NHS Trust.
West Yorkshire restrictions
Looking at the 7 day positive test result trends its not surprising that the government has imposed additional social distancing restrictions in some west Yorkshire areas. Calderdale in particular has seen a recent spike in positive results.
The new lock-down rules, which came into force at midnight, mean people from different households will not be allowed to meet in homes or private gardens. They also ban members of two different households from mixing in pubs and restaurants, although individual households will still be able to visit such hospitality venues.
It is perhaps surprising that the restrictions did not include controls on travel. There were a huge number of vehicles heading for the coast today. This will make it virtually impossible to enforce social distancing rules.
The government has also announced that it will not, as planned, ease restrictions next week on some activities. Their statement reads
Further easing of restrictions which had been due to come in tomorrow in England are postponed until 15 August at the earliest – this includes the opening of casinos, bowling alleys, indoor theatres and concerts with social distancing
Changes to wedding celebrations to allow up to 30 guests are also postponed
Shielding will be paused nationally from 1 August as planned
Face covering rules will be extended to additional settings in England from 8 August, including museums. There will be a greater police presence to enforce this
The introduction of new restrictions in northern England is not a “return to lockdown” – but further local restrictions will be implemented as needed
No change to work-from-home guidance from tomorrow – meaning more people will still be encouraged to go in to their workplaces. The PM promised to “come down hard” on workplaces which people do not feel are safe
People who test positive for coronavirus will not be discharged into care homes
New slogan from the PM: “Hands, face, space, get a test”
Rise in infection rates in several parts of the world is not a “second wave”, says Professor Chris Whitty, but if people increase the number of people they meet, the virus rate will increase “inevitably”
Support for residents continues as shielding scheme is paused
As further changes to shielding advice come into force from 1 August, City of York Council is reminding residents that help is still available should people need it.
From 1 August the government will pause shielding. This means that:
the government will no longer be advising you to shield
the support from the National Shielding Service of free food parcels, medicine deliveries and care will stop
NHS Volunteer Responders will carry on delivering the food you buy, prescriptions and essential items to you if you need it you will still be eligible for priority supermarket slots (if you registered by 17 July)
However the Council is keen to reiterate that the coronavirus helpline remains open and the Council, working with communities and the city’s amazing volunteers, stands ready to continue to support people.
From 1 August, those shielding will be advised they can go out to more places and see more people, for example, the advice is:
you can go to work, as long as the workplace is COVID-secure – but carry on working from home if you can
children who are clinically extremely vulnerable can go back to school (when the rest of their class goes back)
Take-away drinks and dining al fresco: Licensing changes for York’s hospitality sector.
City of York Council is encouraging hospitality businesses across the city to make the most of recent national government licensing changes.
These changes are making it easier to use outdoor space for customers and serve take-away drinks.
The council is working with partners like Make it York and York BID to help businesses across the city to secure the space they need to open safely and allow residents to make the most of summer.
As well as extending footstreets and providing outdoor spaces like College Green, the council is reminding every business that they can support them to quickly take advantage of the new laws.
Our Let’s Be York campaign is also reminding businesses and customers to dispose of their litter responsibly and to work with the council, York BID, volunteer hosts and local businesses who are all going the extra mile to keep the city safe, clean and welcoming during these very different circumstances.
Pavement Café licenses
To put tables and chairs outside your premises you need a licence.
Businesses can apply for a licence, valid for between 3 months and 12 months (not beyond the end of 30 September 2021), under the Business and Planning Act 2020.
There are plenty of opportunities in York to make the most of this – from outside your property, to shared spaces or even space outside of vacant properties. Businesses can get in touch with City of York Council to find out what options are available to them.
Similarly, if retailers are interested in making better use of the footway outside their premises, they can find out more and seek permission by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Licensed premises take-away option
New government legislation now means that premises licensed to sell or supply alcohol for consumption on their premises (for example, pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes) can now also sell alcohol for consumption off the premises without restrictions. This means many of the restrictions on your license – such as selling in a sealed container – no longer apply.
Off sales can only be sold or supplied until 11pm. This provision will end on 30 September 2021. The council can also provide guidance on containers and toilet provision.
This provision does not apply to premises that are authorised to sell or supply alcohol by means of a ‘club premises certificate’, for example private members clubs.
These actions are designed to support the council’s Economic Recovery – Transport and Place Strategy, to build resident, visitor and stakeholder confidence that York is a safe, healthy and attractive place for everyone.
Cllr Andrew Waller, Executive Member for Economy and Strategic Planning, said;
“As our economy adapts to build back better, recent changes in licensing offer York’s hospitality businesses a great opportunity to expand their capacity to welcome more customers to enjoy the vibrant food and drink scene across the city.
“Colleagues across the council are working extremely hard to streamline these processes to help our city’s businesses reopen, recover and adapt. These changes make it easier for businesses to do just that, leaving them more time to do what they do best and offering customers more ways to enjoy the full range of local and independent shops which make York unique.
“We hope that visitors to the city centre will recognise the steps that businesses and attractions have taken, and to accept that there will be changes, but that these have been done with their safety in mind.”
Footstreets extended to support Castlegate “businesses and social distancing”
With Bishopthorpe Road due to reopen on Monday, the York Council has issued a statement saying “We are creating additional outdoor space on Castlegate, after businesses grouped together to put forward proposals to transform the road into footstreets and use the space for pavement cafes & stalls”.
The one way street is not used by through traffic so the main impact will be on disabled parking and servicing. No criteria on how the success of the project will be judged have been published.
Castlegate will be extended into the city centre pedestrian zone to help support local businesses by providing residents more space to social distance and making access to city centre restaurants, pubs, cafes, shops and businesses easier, as part of the emergency response to COVID-19.
The actions are designed to support the council’s Economic Recovery – Transport and Place Strategy, to build resident, visitor and stakeholder confidence that York is a safe, healthy and attractive place for everyone.
York has one of the largest pedestrian zones in Europe, with many areas within York’s city centre already designated as pedestrian footstreets.
In line with the Government guidance on public spaces and relaxing the restrictions for the hospitality sector this month, the council is extending the footstreet hours, which are expected to be in place from 8 August. This means no vehicles are allowed to access, or park on, these streets, including deliveries between 10.30am 8pm, seven days a week. During the footstreet times, barriers will be in place in Castlegate to control access, but emergency vehicles will be permitted access at all times.
These are temporary measures as part of the emergency response to the pandemic and will remain under review as national guidance evolves and local needs change.
The council wants to encourage people who have been working from home all day to head in to the city centre to eat, relax and socialise in a family-friendly early evening environment. Alongside this, the council is encouraging the safe return of residents and visitors by incentivising short stay parking in some of the city’s car parks.
In addition to this, Blue Badge holders can, as has always been the case, park for free in any council car park and can take advantage of using disabled bay spaces in council car parks too. For more information on council car parks visit www.york.gov.uk/parking
York residents are being encouraged to download an app to contribute to vital research into the virus and to help the council and the NHS understand more about the virus.
The COVID-19 Symptom Study app asks people to report on their health, help the NHS and the responses are also contributing to vital research on COVID-19.
Developed by health science company ZOE, nearly four million participants have downloaded the app to date, making it the largest public science project of its kind anywhere in the world.
The information received means researchers will be able to predict who has the virus and so track COVID infections across the UK.
Anyone can sign up, you don’t need to currently have Coronavirus symptoms. The information is also being used to generate new scientific understanding of the very different symptoms the virus causes in different people. People will be asked to provide a regular quick update on how they are feeling.
The research aims to:
Better understand symptoms of COVID-19
Understand how fast the virus is spreading in your area
Identify high risk areas in the country
Identify who is most at risk by better understanding symptoms linked to health conditions
In the future the hope is they will be able to use this data to help the NHS support sick individuals. This app is not intended to be a diagnostic tool. For official advice about the coronavirus please visit the NHS website
Councillor Carol Runciman, Executive Member for Health and Adult Social Care said: “Thank you to the more than 4,000 York residents who have signed up already and are helping inform our Coronavirus response.
“Across the world we are learning more and more about the virus which will help to keep people safe. This research is already providing useful insights and I would encourage York residents to help if they can by downloading this app.
“This adds to existing measures already in place, such test and trace and our robust infection control measures. Our Public Health team are closely monitoring local data to help us understand and respond to the situation in York. Research is also being shared at a local authority level which will help inform responses to coronavirus. We take privacy issues very seriously and have been assured by the developers that the app meets all security and privacy standards ”
Dr Andrew Lee, Executive Director of Primary Care and Population Health, NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “The ask here is for people to share information with researchers about their health and their social activities since the start of the pandemic and then provide daily reporting. The app is an important way to study the symptoms of COVID-19 and track the spread of this virus, which ultimately will impact on the health of our patients and the wider public.
“The CCG continues to encourage anyone who is displaying coronavirus symptoms to follow the government advice to have a test and stay at home. GP services are open and running safely for patients with any other health concerns.”
For more information and to download the app please visit: covid.joinzoe.com
It is clear that the government does hold information on matters of local interest such as the number of hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients. It also knows what percentage of local tests have been positive. Whether it will make this information available remains to be seen.
The York Council has issued a media release indicating that the controversial Bishopthorpe Road lane closure will end on 4th August.
However no formal notification of any meeting being held, to endorse the change, has appeared on the Councils register of decisions.
No notice of any decision meeting was published by the Council.
The original decision to close one lane appeared to be based on a whim. It sprang from a request by a Micklegate ward Labour Councillor (Kilbane) but was quickly adopted by the Councils transport executive Councillor (Andy D’Agorne). There was no public consultation before implementation.
The reversal of the decision fails to acknowledge the harm and resentment felt by significant sections of the community about the ill judged scheme.
The scheme has been compared to the closure of Lendal Bridge where a intransigent Council persisted with a failed experiment for nearly two years before admitting defeat. It put the cause of traffic reduction back by 10 years. We hope that the iconic “Bishy Road” shopping area doesn’t suffer a similar setback.
The main criticisms of the scheme were that, contrary to claims, it did little to assist with social distancing. Indeed in places, bollards actually increased pedestrian congestion.
Cyclists were put at risk when using the contraflow cycle lane while those living in the St Benedict Road area had to cope with increased short cutting and consequent higher pollution levels.
Against expectations, in June the scheme was extendedfor another 2 months
Even many who acknowledged that traffic reduction was desirable, pointed out that an (off peak) foot street option might have won greater public support.
We said, right from the beginning, that diverting traffic onto Nunnery Lane and Blossom Street, when the latter was partly closed for utility works, was completely half baked.
So it proved.
It seems that gas works will return on the Blossom Street area shortly.
That, coupled with other road closures in the city, really would have caused traffic chaos at a time when the economy is slowly getting back onto its feet.
The Councils change of heart is welcome, albeit belated. We next hope to see changes to remove some of the unnecessary restrictions on space use in the Marygate car park and on the Monk Bar car park.