Latest information: Updated 24 March 2020
Photo of Barnet Council Leader Councillor Daniel Thomas
I have been truly heartened to see how local people have rallied together and are looking out for those around them.
As the Prime Minister announced last night, there are new measures in place to limit the spread of infection. For your part, you must now stay at home unless it is to shop for food or medicine, go for outdoor exercise once a day, seek medical attention, or travel to work if absolutely necessary. The police will have powers to disperse groups of people in public.
In line with these new measures, weddings will be cancelled, and libraries, leisure centres and gyms will remain closed. Funerals will be permitted, subject to attendees observing social distancing rules. Schools are open to the children of keyworkers only, but please only send your children if strictly necessary.
For now, parks and open spaces remain open for exercise but you must keep your distance from anyone who does not live in your household. Children’s play areas, toilets and outdoor facilities are closed.
During these new circumstances, our immediate priority is to keep essential services running and protect our most vulnerable residents. Colleagues across the council are working hard to ensure our vital services keep going, but you are likely to see some significant changes, with only our most essential staff able to travel.
We have set up a special webpage to provide up-to-date information for our residents, businesses and communities and details on any changes to our services. It also provides information about additional support for those who may face financial difficultly and advice for businesses and employers. We will keep this updated as things unfold.
Services such as our waste and recycling collections have well established emergency plans in place. However, it is likely there will be changes to collections and we will do everything we can to keep them as frequent as possible. We will tell you about any changes as soon as we can and provide the latest information on our website.
All non-statutory council meetings have been suspended to enable the council to focus on our response to COVID-19. We are also making some temporary changes to parking arrangements in Barnet to ensure that health workers and other key workers are able to carry out their duties. Please visit our parking pages to find out more about this.
Yesterday (23rd March), schools in England closed until further notice, except for the children of key workers and vulnerable children where it is not possible for them to keep their child at home and carry out their duties. This is the same for nurseries, private schools and sixth forms. A list of key workers as set out by the government can be found online. You can find more information about what these changes mean, what support is available and how it affects exams and coursework, on our website.
Volunteers and organisations across Barnet are already going above and beyond to support our local communities; we are working with them on our community response. Our community pages will be updated over the coming days with more information about how you can provide your support.
There is no doubt that there will be tough times ahead, but after seeing our communities come together and look after each other, I know there is nothing that Barnet residents cannot overcome.