Observer column: 21 January 2022
The last two years have been incredibly difficult for our businesses - dealing with changing COVID-19 restrictions, staff sickness and enforced closures. Let's all support our local businesses wherever we can, as without our support these small businesses can't survive. Those who have made it through so far have shown great resilience.
If you run a hospitality or leisure businesses based within our town and have been affected by the Omicron variant, you can now apply for a government grant.
Officers are working to finalise the details for the other grant schemes - the Additional Restrictions Grant tranche 4 and the COVID-19 Additional Relief Fund (CARF). Please keep checking our website and social media, which will be updated when these details are confirmed.
COVID-19 cases in our town remain very high but seem to be falling a little. There are many people in our town who are isolating which impacts them and their families but also on businesses and services.
It's important to make sure we are up to date with our COVID-19 vaccines. There has been an RAF team in town helping to deliver vaccine pop-up sessions for first, second and booster jabs, and there will be additional pop-ups in the coming weeks. It's not too late for anyone to have a first vaccination and remember that any vaccination will reduce the risk of serious illness if you catch the virus. If you have any questions, there is lots of information on the Sussex Health and Care website.
If it's been more than eight weeks since your first jab, you are eligible for your second, and if it's been more than three months since your second one you can have your booster. There must be a 28-day gap between having COVID-19 and any vaccination. You can just turn up at Hastings town hall, the Hastings Centre and at one of many pop-ups around the town without an appointment for any jab. Check our website for detailed information including opening times and additional venues.
The advice is that if you do have symptoms, you should have a PCR test, which can be booked online. You must isolate until you get your results and then if you test positive for at least five full days. If you test negative on a lateral flow test on the fifth and sixth day of isolation you can go out but if you test positive you must remain in isolation. If you have a positive lateral flow test, you need a PCR test as well if you want to apply for the self-isolation support grant.
The government have announced that Plan B will end next week, but we should remain very cautious and protect ourselves and others as much as we can. It is easy to wear a face covering in public indoor spaces and to take a lateral flow test before we mix with people we don't live with so let's keep going with it. Social distancing and washing our hands regularly also help to stop the spread of the virus.
Thursday January 27 is Holocaust Memorial Day. This was the date that Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated. Every year the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust organises events to remember the six million Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust, as well as the millions more killed under Nazi persecution of other groups, and in the genocides that followed in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.
This year's theme of One Day encourages us to discover more about one day that changed the lives of people who lived through genocide. We must continue to come together and work to ensure that discrimination, racism and hatred will no longer thrive in our world and one day there will be no more genocides.
This year there will be a local online service on Saturday January 29, live streamed on Zoom and the link will be on our website and our Bottle Alley lights will change colour in commemoration.
Please go to www.hmd.org.uk/ to find out more.
Council Leader's column