As Monmouthshire enters the national two-week firebreak lockdown, Monmouthshire County Council has encouraged residents and businesses to familiarise themselves with all the available support and advice.

“We know that the next two weeks are going to be incredibly hard for many people and for businesses across the county,” said Councillor Peter Fox, Leader of Monmouthshire County Council. “If anyone is concerned they will need additional support or are concerned about any vulnerable members of their family or community we would ask them to let us know as soon as possible by phoning our Contact Centre on 01633 644644 or emailing contact@monmouthshire.gov.uk – help and support is available. Monmouthshire residents have been tremendous this year, I would like to thank everyone for following guidelines to try and keep themselves and the county safe, I would kindly ask everyone to continue to do all they can again when the restrictive measures begin.”

A number of other council services and sites will be closed during the lockdown. These include; recycling centres (normal kerbside collections will continue), Community Hubs, museums, indoor attractions and leisure centres, as well as youth centres. Access to food banks, which would normally be through the Community Hubs, can be organised via the Contact Centre service while the hubs are closed. Food banks are normally open one or two mornings a week, so it is advised to get in touch sooner rather than later if residents need to use this facility.

Outdoor play areas will remain open, and community care, homelessness services, school transport and school meals will continue.

All nurseries and childcare settings are permitted to remain open as per their normal arrangements, while all primary schools in the county will re-open as normal after the half term break, returning on 2nd November 2020.

The council’s pupil referral service will also re-open after the half term break on the 2nd November. Monmouthshire’s four secondary schools will open to children only in Year 7 and 8 for the week that follows the half term break (week commencing 2nd November). This is necessary to ensure compliance with the requirements of the Welsh Government’s firebreak announcement. Students in years 9,10,11,12 and 13 will need to remain at home where they will receive a package of blended learning from their schools. Schools will arrange to support learners who need the support of school and those expected to undertake examinations during the firebreak period. The four secondary schools will be liaising with parents and guardians directly over these arrangements.

For businesses that have had to close due to the firebreak, the Welsh Government has announced the third phase of its Economic Resilience Funding. For information about the financial support available for businesses visit monmouthshire.gov.uk/business-advice

“We are doing everything we can to keep residents and businesses informed of the support and advice available during the lockdown,” continued Councillor Fox. “This firebreak is going to be challenging in so many ways, but we can all play our part. Stay home, stay safe and let’s help reduce transmission and ease the strain on the NHS.

“Our strength to get through this period lies within the incredible community spirit of Monmouthshire residents. The previous lockdown saw an amazing number of volunteers coming forward ready to help vulnerable residents with tasks such as food shopping, prescription collection, or simply being a friendly face and someone to talk to,” said Councillor Fox.

To find out more about becoming a volunteer or to find out about additional community support visit ourmonmouthshire.org

The council’s website has a dedicated area where the latest information is available – monmouthshire.gov.uk/services/planning-for-emergencies/coronavirus/ Useful sections include school updates, buildings closures, support for shielded/vulnerable people, business advice, money advice, bereavement support, transport and travel, community and social services, and much more. There are also links to the latest advice and announcements from Welsh Government and Public Health Wales. There is also a Frequently Asked Questions section and information about Track and Trace and how to book a coronavirus test.