The majority of council services in Bridgend County Borough are continuing to operate since Wales entered alert level four conditions at the weekend.
However, with positive cases of coronavirus continuing to rise, the authority is issuing stark warnings that some services may be affected in the longer term if more people fall ill or are forced to self-isolate.
Council Leader Huw David said: “Latest statistics have confirmed that Bridgend County Borough is currently the second-highest area in the whole of the UK for positive cases of coronavirus, so it is more important than ever for local residents to come together as one community, united in the fight against the pandemic.
“As difficult as it may be, we must face up to celebrating Christmas and the New Year in very different ways this year, and do all we can to ensure that no one is missing when it is finally safe once more to gather together with family, friends and neighbours.
“If we are not moving, neither is the virus, so in addition to abiding by the new restrictions, please wear a mask where appropriate, wash your hands regularly, use sanitiser, and observe social distancing at all times.
“Council staff are working flat out to ensure that people can continue to receive essential services, and we are redeploying our resources to support this while monitoring the situation carefully.
“There is of course a very real risk that some services will have to cease or be curtailed, especially if staff continue to fall ill or have to self-isolate. The council will be issuing regular updates as the situation continues, so please look out for more news throughout the festive period.”
The following provides a run-down of council services and pandemic arrangements.
Two households can come together to form a ‘bubble’ on Christmas Day only, but holiday accommodation will no longer be allowed to open. For more details on arrangements around Christmas, please visit the Welsh Government website.
Under alert level four, people must stay at home (except for very limited purposes e.g. for work or to collect a prescription), and must not visit other households or meet other people whom they do not live with. While the level four alert is in effect, a single person household will be able to join with one other household, and people should seek to work from home as much as possible. The Welsh Government website offers more information on circumstances when people can leave their home during the alert.
Residents are allowed to leave their homes for exercise so long as it is done alone, with members of the same household / support bubble, or with a carer. The exercise should both start from and finish at your home, and please stay as close to home as possible. Visit the Welsh Government website for more information about what sort of exercise is allowed.
Businesses and shopping
Under the new requirements, many types of businesses are required to close e.g. non-essential retail, close-contact services, gyms, leisure centres, hospitality businesses and more. The Welsh Government website provides business FAQs on what types of premises are affected, which types can stay open, which can provide takeaway and home delivery alternatives, how they should be used and more.
Recycling and waste collections
Collections are currently running as normal. Over the festive period, they will be carried out on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, but not on Christmas Day, Boxing Day or New Year’s Day. Waste that is due to be collected on Christmas Day (Friday) will be picked up on Sunday 27 December, and collections due on New Year’s Day (Friday) will be picked up on Saturday 2 January. Collections will be carried out as normal on Monday 28 December. Visit the council website for more information.
Household recycling centres are currently open for essential use only between 9am-4pm. They will be closed on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. Due to restrictions on how many people can use the sites at any one time, some queuing should be expected, and staff will be unable to help carry items from vehicles.
Leisure centres, gyms, swimming pools and libraries
These are all currently closed under alert level four restrictions.
Primary and secondary schools are currently closed ahead of the Christmas holidays. While arrangements are in place for them to reopen in the New Year, the situation is being monitored carefully – look out for further details soon.
The council is reviewing services for children and adults, and is redeploying resources to ensure they can be prioritised under the alert level four conditions. Services provided as part of the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH), domiciliary care and residential services are all continuing to operate, and there will be further updates as the situation develops.
Churches and places of worship
While churches and places of worship can remain open, residents are advised to avoid congregating with people they do not live with. Some faith leaders have set up arrangements for streaming or broadcasting religious ceremonies as a safer alternative. The Welsh Government website offers more information around churches and places of worship.
Coychurch Crematorium remains open, although please note that a total of 30 mourners are currently permitted. The crematorium grounds remain open between 9am-5pm Monday to Thursday, 9am-4pm Friday and Saturday, and 10.30am-4pm on Sunday and bank holidays. Visit the Coychurch Crematorium page at the council website for more information.
Bridgend Register Office
All appointments at Bridgend Register Officer have been temporarily postponed due to the alert level four restrictions put in place by Welsh Government – look out for further updates.
Childcare services and providers are able to operate, although any informal childcare should only take place be in essential cases. Welsh Government have provided guidance to help childcare settings ensure that their services are safe.
Council-maintained toilets at Bridgend Bus Station are currently open and are being cleaned each time they are used. All other toilet facilities in the county borough are either run privately or via town and community councils.
Public transport and car parks
Public transport remains available to support key workers in getting to and from work, and council-maintained car parks remain open. However, please observe alert level four requirements on staying at home wherever possible, and remember to wear a face covering while using a public transport service.
With non-essential businesses now closed and cases of coronavirus increasing, the Shopmobility service for Bridgend town centre has been temporarily suspended while the alert level four conditions are in place. The service will seek to reopen as soon as it is safe to do so in the New Year.
Playgrounds and parks
Playgrounds and parks currently remain open to support exercise and children’s mental health and well-being. Please note that not all facilities may be available, and remember to practice social distancing and hand hygiene. Parks and playgrounds should not be used for the purpose of meeting people from other households.
Support for homeless people during the pandemic remains in place. The Housing Solutions team is available to help assess housing and support needs, and advise about available options. For more details, call 01656 643643 or visit www.bridgend.gov.uk
Foodbanks over Christmas and New Year
Visit the Facebook foodbank page for details of how the following can be accessed:
- Bridgend Foodbank: 11am-1pm on 22 and 29 December.
- Porthcawl Foodbank: 10am-12pm on 22, 24, 29 and 31 December.
- Pencoed Foodbank: 1pm-3pm on 21 December and 4 January.
- Caerau Foodbank: 10am-12pm on 22 and 29 December.
- Cornelly Foodbank: 1pm-3pm on 23 and 31 December.
- Pontycymmer Foodbank: 1.30pm-3.30pm on 23 and 30 December, and 1 January.
- Aberkenfig Foodbank: 10am-12pm on 24 and 31 December.
Test, Trace, Protect
Following an escalation in positive cases of coronavirus, the Test, Trace, Protect service is continuing to operate despite increasing numbers of cases and contacts being identified. The service is currently operating a triage process in order to focus on areas of highest risk.
Symptoms of coronavirus
If you or anyone in your household develops symptoms such as a new, continuous cough, high temperature or a loss or change in your sense of taste or smell, you must self-isolate immediately – you can check symptoms by using the NHS online symptom checker.
Testing for coronavirus
If you require a coronavirus test, the mobile testing facility based at the site of the former Revlon / Cosi factory off Oakwood Drive in Maesteg (CF34 8TS) and the longer-term testing facility in the Bowls Hall car park of Bridgend Life Centre (CF31 4AH) will be available to use throughout the festive period, including Christmas Day, Boxing Day, the bank holiday on December 28 and New Year’s Day. Appointments for both facilities must be booked in advance by calling 191 or visiting the Welsh Government website.
Coronavirus guidance and support
You can also find out more by calling 119 or visiting the coronavirus page at the Welsh Government website.
Contacting the council
The Customer Service Centre at the Civic Offices in Angel Street, Bridgend remains closed to the public. Residents are asked to use the online My Account and Oggie webchat facilities, or to email [email protected] or call 01656 643643.