Executive Daily Update: Initiatives to deal with Coronavirus ( 4 May 2020)

Date published: 04 May 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

Farmers experiencing difficulties filling in their 2020 Single Applications during the Covid-19 emergency can avail of a special helpline to assist them, the Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister Edwin Poots announced today.

With just 11 days left until the closing date for 2020 Single Application and Environmental Farming Scheme Tranche 4, Minister Poots urged farmers to complete their applications immediately to avoid incurring a financial penalty.

However he acknowledged that in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, some farmers might need to use his Department’s enhanced telephone advice service to help them complete their applications.

Minister Poots revealed: “In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, my Department enhanced our telephone advice service to help farmers submit their applications and I’m pleased to announce that this service will also be available over the Bank Holiday weekend between 9.00am and 4.00pm (8th, 9th and 10th May), where staff will be available to provide advice and assist farmers in completing their application over the phone.”

If anyone is experiencing difficulty with their applications, they are advised to contact the Single Application Advisory Service on 0300 200 7848, or via email to areabasedschemes@daera-ni.gov.uk  A team of skilled advisors will be available to provide advice and assist farmers to submit their applications over the phone.

The announcement of a UK-wide package to address admissions issues for students applying for university was welcomed today by the Economy Minister Diane Dodds.

However Minister Dodds called for more funding to address wider financial pressures faced by Northern Ireland’s universities during the Covid-19 emergency.

The Minister said: “Our local higher education sector is a key contributor to the local economy and will be of vital importance to our economic recovery after this pandemic. We will need the UK Government to commit further funding in the coming months to address the specific financial pressures our sector is facing. This must include measures to stabilise the sector and support the important field of research and development.”

The UK Government measures enable higher education providers to apply for their support packages developed in response to Covid-19, including business loan support schemes.

Further guidance has been published as to how providers should access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to safeguard staff jobs and tuition fee payments will also be bought forward to help universities better manage financial risks over the autumn.

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: 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: 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. The online version of the app is hosted on a new website https://covid-19.hscni.net.
  7. 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
  8. 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.
  9. Psychological Support Help Lines will be staffed by psychologists and psychological therapists who can provide appropriate support throughout the surge phase of the crisis.
  10. 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.
  11. 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
  12. 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.
  13. Updated guidance for care homes is available on DoH website at: www.health-ni.gov.uk/publications/covid-19-guidance-nursing-and-residential-care-homes-northern-ireland
  14. Anyone wishing to volunteer for health and social care support roles can do so via: www.hscworkforceappeal.co.uk/.
  15. 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.
  16. Statistics on weekly deaths registered in Northern Ireland can be accessed on NISRA’s website at: www.nisra.gov.uk/publications/weekly-deaths
  17. 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
  18. 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.
  19. A link to the guidance on schools clustering is available here: www.education-ni.gov.uk/guidance-schools-cluster-arrangements
  20. 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
  21. The online application form for small businesses that rent premises is available at: www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/RentalPropertiesandNAVBelow1590  
  22. Information on the full range of Covid-19 related support for businesses is available at: www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/campaign/coronavirus-updates-support-your-business
  23. The deadline for submitting 2020 Single Applications and applications for the Tranche 4 of the Environmental Farming Scheme is 15 May 2020. Applications can be made online at www.daera-ni.gov.uk/services/daera-online-services
  24. Further information on the UK Government’s support measures for universities can be found at: www.gov.uk/government/news/government-support-package-for-universities-and-students
  25.  Media enquiries should be directed to the relevant department using the following email addresses:

    The Executive Office: Press.Office@executiveoffice-ni.gov.uk;
    Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs: PressOffice.Group@daera-ni.gov.uk;
    Department for Communities: Press.Office@communities-ni.gov.uk;
    Department of Education: Press.Office@education-ni.gov.uk;
    Department for the Economy: DfE.PressOffice@economy-ni.gov.uk;
    Department of Finance: dof.pressoffice@finance-ni.gov.uk;
    Department for Infrastructure: Press.Office@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk;
    Department of Health: PressOffice@health-ni.gov.uk;
    Department of Justice: Press.Office@justice-ni.x.gsi.gov.uk
  26. For out of office hours media queries, contact the Duty Press Officer on 028 9037 8110.

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