Coronavirus: Wealden council taking steps in case outbreak worsens

Council employees in East Sussex are being encouraged to prepare to work more from home ‘should they need to’, two authorities have confirmed.

Wednesday, 11th March 2020, 2:56 pm
Wealden District Council offices, Hailsham SUS-170401-214731008

Both Wealden District Council and Hastings Borough Council have confirmed they are considering authorising staff to work from home more often, should the coronavirus outbreak become more widespread.

Wealden District Council has confirmed it is encouraging staff to take home their laptops at night and ensure they are able to work from home if needed.

The council says it has also begun providing antibacterial hand gel and wipes to office staff, is encouraging staff to follow government hygiene advice and had instructed its cleaning contractor to undertake additional cleaning.

A Wealden District Council spokesman said: “Public Health England (PHE) are the authority leading on the UK’s response to coronavirus – so actions of councils are guided by their advice. 

“We have signposted to PHE information on our website following a number of enquiries from residents. 

“We continue to monitor the situation and the advice given by PHE, and we’re also using our social media and internal communications platforms to share PHE and NHS advice on coronavirus with our residents and staff.”

However, East Sussex County Council says it has not taken steps to encourage home working,  although confirmed it is keeping its staffing arrangements ‘under review’. 

The authority also says it has stepped up cleaning in its offices and is providing hand gel in parts of its buildings.

Rother District Council (which shares its communications staff with the county council) was taking the same precautions, the spokesman said.

Darrell Gale, East Sussex director of public health said: “We’re in constant contact with the Government and Public Health England, and are working together to follow their national guidance. 

“We are directing schools to Government guidance that anyone who has returned from areas where cases of the virus have been confirmed, and has developed a cough, fever or shortness of breath, should stay at home, avoid contact with others and call NHS 111. 

“We’ve made sure specific guidance for care staff is widely shared among our colleagues and we’re keeping our own staffing arrangements under review as the situation develops. 

“We’d encourage people to check the latest NHS guidance at nhs.uk/coronavirus”