Following the announcement that England has gone back into lockdown, Manchester city council is alerting people to the help and support available.
More now than ever, we are reminded, it is essential that the city comes together to overcome COVID-19.
Mass vaccination efforts have already begun throughout Manchester, efforts that will hopefully one day allow us to return back to normal.
However, until that happens residents must do everything in their power to protect themselves, the communities they live in and our local NHS services.
Here are key pieces of information for Mancunians on what help is on offer.
The Manchester Community Response is a support hub that can offer help to the city’s most vulnerable residents.
People cut off from their support networks due to the lockdown, or medically vulnerable residents can use the Community Response to help with access to food; access to medication; managing fuel top-up payments; accessing online services; and combating loneliness.
You can find out more about the Manchester Community Response here.
New restrictions mean that residents have been told to stay at home.
There are exceptions, such as shopping for essentials, going to work (if it is safe to do so), seeking medical attention, or exercising once a day.
These measures have been put in place to reduce the chance of COVID-19 transmission.
However, if you do develop symptoms (loss of taste/smell; a new persistent cough; a high temperature) there are now sites across Greater Manchester where residents can get a COVID test.
Tests should only be booked if you have symptoms.
To arrange a free NHS COVID Test, click here.
The rapid rollout of a vaccine against COVID-19 represents the best and fastest way of life returning to normal.
In Manchester the rollout of the vaccine in our communities has already started and will escalate in the coming weeks.
The council would urge anyone contacted by their GP in regard to getting a vaccination to stick to their appointment.
It must be noted that the vaccine will take time to become effective and will not immediately provide immunity.
Support for Businesses
The pandemic has had a devastating impact for many businesses operating in Manchester. The council will continue to help businesses access financial support that has been made available through the pandemic.
On Tuesday 5th January, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced a further £4.6bn grant scheme that will be made available for businesses to claim.
The council is urging anyone who thinks their business may be eligible for support to check.
The council would also like to remind the owners of ‘wet’ pubs that claims can still be submitted due to enforced closures during the Christmas period.
Local Restriction Support Grants are also still open to applications.
‘Stick to the rules’
“It cannot be stressed enough how precarious a situation we find ourselves in,” said David Regan, Manchester’s Director of Public Health.
“A new, more easily transmissible strain of COVID-19 has emerged which is causing new cases to increase quicker than ever.
“It is essential that we stick to the new rules that have been put in place to protect as many people as possible, take pressure off the NHS and social care, and give vaccination teams the time they need to do their vital work.
“The next few months will be crucial in determining how fast life will be able to return to normal.
“I would urge everyone to stick to the rules and limit their contact with as many people as possible so we can achieve that goal.”
Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Starting the New Year with a lockdown is something none of us wanted, but as has been the case so many times over the past year Mancunians will weather this storm.
“The next few months will be difficult ones and further uncertainty for businesses is yet another blow to them.
“However, billions of pounds worth of new financial aid has been announced by the chancellor that can be claimed, and I would encourage any eligible business to do so.
“As a council we will do everything in our power to save Manchester jobs in the face of extremely difficult circumstances.
“We are being asked for one final push.
“More vaccinations are being carried out every single day and it is this that will carry is through to better times.
“I know how hard things have been for so many of our residents but I want to assure everyone that you are not alone.
“Mancunians are strongest when we stick together and help one another, something we will rely on in the coming weeks.”