Executive Daily Update: Initiatives to deal with Coronavirus (20 April 2020)

Date published: 20 April 2020

Northern Ireland Executive Ministers and their officials have over the past 72 hours been involved in a number of initiatives and critical decisions relating to the Coronavirus emergency.

Covid-19 Executive Update
Covid-19 Executive Update

Economy Minister Diane Dodds today encouraged businesses in the retail, tourism and leisure sectors that may be eligible for a £25,000 grant to apply online as soon as possible.

The £25,000 grant scheme is the latest support measure to be put in place to support local businesses during the Covid-19 health crisis.

It follows the small business support scheme, which has now issued over 16,300 payments of £10,000 to eligible local businesses and is also open to those eligible for industrial de-rating.

Minister Dodds explained: “The scheme will run over the next month and will deliver much needed funds to ease the cash flow problems of some of our hardest hit businesses. I assure businesses that as soon as applications have been verified, the grant will be paid – we will not be waiting until the end of the application process before starting to process payments. I urge anyone who thinks they are eligible for support under this scheme to visit nibusinessinfo and start the process now.”

Both grant schemes will close for applications on Wednesday 20 May.

Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister Edwin Poots revealed over £4.5 million had been redirected into rural communities to help around 50,000 vulnerable and isolated people to stay at home during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Departmental officials have been asked by Minister Poots to do all they can to ease the burden and worries of those in rural communities and rural businesses and to find new and innovative solutions to the unique problems created by ovid-19.

A total of £2.5 million has been secured for the 2020/21 Tackling Rural Poverty and Social Isolation Programme (TRPSI) and targeted at helping the most vulnerable in rural areas during the Coronavirus crisis, for the provision of food parcels, transport, mental health services and vital prescriptions.

Another £2 million in grant aid has been fast-tracked through the EU LEADER and Tourism projects and the TRPSI programme to rural businesses and the community and voluntary sector to ensure they can continue their work.

A new daily dashboard of statistics relating to Covid-19 was launched yesterday by the Health Minister Robin Swann.

The dashboard, which is available via the Department of Health’s website, complements information currently in the public domain and, together with statistics on deaths published weekly by NISRA, helps provide a comprehensive picture of the effects of Covid-19 in Northern Ireland.

The new dashboard provides a range of key statistics on the number of Covid-19 patient admissions and discharges, outbreaks in care settings; bed occupancy, ICU occupancy and gender and age breakdowns. The statistics are presented at a range of geographical levels including Local Government District and at Trust and hospital site. The information will be refreshed daily and new content will be added as appropriate.

Notes to editors: 

  1. The Northern Ireland Executive is producing a regular digest of key initiatives and decisions that have been undertaken by ministers and their Departments relating to the Coronavirus crisis.
  2. Members of the public are encouraged to check regularly the Public Health Agency, NI Direct, NI Executive and government departmental websites and social media channels for public health advice on how to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 Coronavirus.
  3. Current information and advice in relation to Covid-19 can be found on the PHA website at: https://www.publichealth.hscni.net/news/covid-19-coronavirus
  4. Patients who have a persistent cough, or high temperature, together with any other members of their household must self-isolate according to the guidance on the PHA website at: https://www.publichealth.hscni.net/news/covid-19-coronavirus#what-should-i-do-if-i-think-i-have-coronavirus
  5. The Department of Health NI has launched a new Covid-19 NI information app to provide people with immediate advice and links to vital trusted information. The app will be updated as the pandemic evolves. Download the Covid-19 NI app - search for Covid-19 NI on the Apple app store and Covid-19 NI on google play.
  6. A COVID-19 statistical dash board can also be viewed on the Department of Health’s website at: https://app.powerbi.com/view?r=eyJrIjoiMWFhZDgzZDYtMTE4Yi00MTBjLWIzYmQtMTZhYzc1MGEyMTk1IiwidCI6IjljOWEzMGRlLWQ4ZDctNGFhNC05NjAwLTRiZTc2MjVmZjZjNSIsImMiOjh9
  7. The Framework for the Wellbeing of Health and Social Care staff can be accessed at the following link: www.publichealth.hscni.net/sites/default/files/2020-04/HSC_Regional%20Staff%20Wellbeing%20Framework.pdf and is based on evidence and best practice guidance and is informed by The British Psychological Society Guidance Paper.
  8. Psychological Support Help Lines will be staffed by psychologists and psychological therapists who can provide appropriate support throughout the surge phase of the crisis.
  9. The Helplines will be made available by each Trust to all their staff, to all GP Practices in their area, to all Ambulance staff based in their area and to all independent sector care providers in their area. In this way support is offered to all parts of the system throughout surge.
  10. The Framework document is supported by resources which are available on the PHA website: www.publichealth.hscni.net/covid-19-coronavirus/guidance-hsc-staff/staff-health-and-wellbeing
  11. If you are in distress or despair at any time including the Covid-19 crisis, the 24/7 Lifeline helpline is available on 0808 808 8000 where trained counsellors are available to help you.
  12. Anyone wishing to volunteer for health and social care support roles can do so via: www.hscworkforceappeal.co.uk/.
  13. The Freephone COVID-19 Community Helpline can be accessed by telephone on 0808 802 0020; email covid1@adviceni.net or text ACTION to 81025. It is available 7 days a week, 9am to 5pm.
  14. Statistics on weekly deaths registered in Northern Ireland can be accessed on NISRA’s website at: https://www.nisra.gov.uk/publications/weekly-deaths
  15. Volunteer Now has launched a new online campaign #HelpEachOther for those who wish to volunteer for COVID-19 related opportunities and for those organisations which require the support of volunteers to deliver their services to the most in need. Further information is available at: www.volunteernow.co.uk
  16. A list of schools which are open for educational supervision is available on the Department of Education website: www.education-ni.gov.uk/publications/schools-open-supervised-learning-key-workers-children-and-vulnerable-children.
  17. A link to the guidance on schools clustering is available here: https://www.education-ni.gov.uk/guidance-schools-cluster-arrangements
  18. Forms for those applying to provide supervision to vulnerable children and the children of key workers can be accessed from the Department of Education website using the following link:  http://apps.education-ni.gov.uk/appc19vol/default.aspx
  19. Information on the £25,000 grant scheme for businesses in the retail, hospitality, tourism and leisure sectors and details of how to apply, are available at: https://www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/content/coronavirus-£25000-hospitality-tourism-and-retail-grant
  20. Information on the full range of support for businesses is at: https://www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/campaign/coronavirus-updates-support-your-business
  21. DAERA through its Rural Affairs Division (RAD) plays a significant role in sustaining a vibrant rural economy and working across government it has developed and implemented measures to ensure that the economic and social needs of rural dwellers are met. The tools that DAERA use to achieve this are the NI Rural Development Programme and the Tackling Rural Poverty and Social Isolation Programme. This subvention to CFNI is a further enhancement to this work at a time of significant need and crisis in rural areas because of the Coronavirus. Further information is available at https://communityfoundationni.org/grants/coronavirus-community-fund/
  22. Media enquiries should be directed to the relevant department using the following email addresses. Out of office hours contact the Duty Press Officer on 028 9037 8110.

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