Agenda item

Covid-19 Update

To receive an update from the Executive Head of Community.


The Committee considered a verbal report from Mr Tim Pashen, Executive Head of Community, updating the committee on Covid-19 actions


Despite the move from the Council’s response to the recovery phase, as the borough’s infectious disease control body, it was anticipated that Covid-19 mitigation would continue to be a significant area of work for Council’s Environmental Health (EH) Team for sometime to come. To help with this Surrey County Council (SCC) public health team had provided additional funding of £108,000 to the Council through a Service Level Agreement to strengthen the team’s capacity to respond to COVID-19. A proportion of this money would be used to cover the staffing costs of the required out of hours service as well as extra staffing resources to help the recently increased food safety workload.


Step 2 and 3 of the business roadmap had meant amended business restriction regulations in respect of the reopening of hospitality. Furthermore, Road Map Step 4 had meant the majority of the COVID business restrictions legislation had been revoked and the legal requirement for providing a Covid?safe workplace had become part of an employer's existing duties under the Health & safety At Work Act 1974. In response to this the Environmental Health Team would be supporting the borough’s businesses with the new approach and initiatives were planned to work with the Council’s Economic Development team to survey businesses to find out how best to support them. This was with a view to providing tailored advice on risk assessments and to work with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) on COVID-19 compliance spot checks.


Where complaints about a lack of COVID controls from the public or employees had been investigated, Covid Marshals were deployed to monitor and support business compliance. Where a more formal enforcement approach had been required to achieve compliance this was undertaken by the Environmental Health Officers.


The department were working with SCC Public Health Team and Public Health England (PHE) to investigate a number of workplace outbreaks that had occurred in the borough and were working with the businesses concerned to ensure COVID controls were in place.


From the 1 April 2021 the EH team had investigated two outbreaks. The first was in a large retail business and the second in a large hotel. In both premises good infection controls were in place which prevented further spread. There were a few outbreaks in nursery/school/nursing homes but they were investigated by PHE and did not involve the Council. Furthermore Officers were now carrying out Face to face contact tracing (visiting COVID cases resident in the borough who had not engaged with Test & Trace) and following up on any reports of cases of new variants of concern.


The Council’s officers continued to work with event organisers to provide advice on carrying out adequate COVID-19 risk assessments and the implementation of necessary control while case numbers remained high. Moreover officers continued to attend the Surrey Safety Advisory Group meetings to share good practice as well as to ensure a coordinated response to events across Surrey. It was also noted that the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No.3) Regulations 2020 remained in place and had been extended until end of September 2021. These Regulations enabled the Council to work with the Director of Public Health at Surrey County Council to issue instruction to prevent or restrict an event/ activity in order to manage local COVID-19 risks or outbreaks by the means of breaking chains of transmission.


The Business and Planning Act 2020 had streamlined the process for businesses to apply for pavement licences. In addition the act had also allowed off sales until 11pm for businesses that did not have the benefit of off-sales on their existing licences.


It was noted that on 19 July the Business and Planning Act 2020 (Pavement Licence) (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 extended the current provisions to the end of September 2022. In cases where premises wished to continue or start to place chairs and tables on the pavement after the 30 September 2021 they should apply for a replacement/new Pavement Licence using the existing procedures. At the October meeting of the Committee, Members would be asked to consider whether the fee of £100 should continue to be waived for applications for Pavement Licences received for licences which would take effect after 1 October 2021 and which would expire on or before 30th September 2022.


The Chairman, on behalf of the Licensing Committee, gave a vote of thanks to Mr Pashen for his lengthy service and hard work in supporting licensing and environmental health within the borough and wished him a long and happy retirement


RESOLVED that the update be noted.