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19 May 2020   |   Issue 16  

Thank you for continuing to support Westminster and the rest of London through this unprecedented time. Please find below the latest information from the City Council on how we are supporting our communities and businesses.  

Our website holds more information about our actions and you can sign up for a daily MyWestminster e-bulletin here.

Government Update

Anyone experiencing a loss of smell or taste should self-isolate:
From yesterday, the Government has advised that anyone experiencing a loss of or change in their normal sense of smell (anosmia) should self-isolate. It can also affect your sense of taste as the two are closely linked. People should also continue to self-isolate if they experience a new continuous cough or fever. More information can be found here

TfL announcement:
TfL has published a restart plan to help London re-open carefully, safely and sustainably.

The advice remains to avoid public transport if possible. Anyone who can, should use existing or new walking and cycling routes. Those who must use public transport are advised to avoid the busiest times between 05:45-08:15 and 16:00-17:30. For journey's that are absolutely essential, people can use TfL's travel tools and Faceook TravelBot to plan their journey.

Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme:
A new online service will be launched on 26 May for small and medium-sized employers to recover Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) payments they have made to their employees. The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme (which can be found here) was announced as part of a package of support measures for businesses affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Larger businesses to benefit from loans of up to £200 million:
Businesses will be able to benefit from larger loans under the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS). The maximum loan size available under the scheme will be increased from £50 million to £200 million to make sure large firms which do not qualify for the Bank of England’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) have enough finance to meet cashflow needs during the outbreak. More information can be found here.

Community updates 

Mental Health Awareness Week:
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and we know that many people are feeling down or anxious as a result of coronavirus. Information is available to support the mental health and wellbeing of Westminster residents during this time, including helplines, talking therapy, and support for young people. Throughout the week, we will be signposting people to key services. Details of these services can be found here

Ask for a coronavirus test:
The coronavirus mobile testing unit is on North Carriage Drive in Hyde Park (entrance via Victoria Gate) this Thursday and Friday, 21 and 22 May between 10.30am and 3.30pm. Please do let people know how they can request a test. You can ask for a test: 

  • for yourself, if you have coronavirus symptoms (a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste)
  • for someone you live with, if they have coronavirus symptoms

The tests are not suitable for children under 5 years old. Anyone who meets the criteria should ask for a test through the NHS.

Essential workers, or those who live with an essential worker, who have coronavirus symptoms, should apply for a test on GOV.UK

You must book to attend, please do not turn up without an appointment. Once you have registered, you will receive a confirmation email or text telling you the time to attend. You should not use public transport to attend the test. If you travel on foot, please observe social distancing at all times.

Westminster City Council Leader Facebook Live
Council Leader Rachael Robathan will be hosting a Facebook Live event on Friday 29 May at 12:30. These events are a unique opportunity to engage with the Council Leader on the Council's response to the coronavirus pandemic. If you have concerns about vulnerable people, want to join our incredible volunteers, or are a local business seeking support, you will be able to submit your questions live during the event. Please do let people know about it. 

More details will be published next week and you can watch a recording of the Leader’s previous Facebook Live event here.

Help us celebrate Westminster's key workers:
It’s been 9 weeks since lockdown began. Throughout this time, workers across Westminster have continued going out daily to help people stay safe and keep the city running. From providing health and social care to collecting waste, serving food, delivering essential supplies and much more.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be running a campaign to thank and celebrate our Westminster heroes. Do you know of people who should be featured? If so, we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch with us at
The Minister of Housing, Christopher Pincher, sent a letter to all social housing residents this week setting out measures to support social housing residents during the next phase towards reopening society. This letter includes information about maintenance and repairs, gas safety checks, remediation works, home moves, support for domestic abuse victims and anti-social behaviour. 
In line with this, we are gradually reintroducing the allocation of social housing to those most in need. We will make offers to those that need to move for urgent health and welfare reasons, who are willing to move during COVID-19, and homeless families, who will have properties made available through Choice-Based Lettings (CBL). This is an interim approach to the way we move people to help safeguard those most at risk during this time. Find out more about our Housing Solutions, Services and Homelessness in our Housing FAQ guide

Business Support

Support our Shop Local campaign
We have now launched our interactive online 'Shop Local' map for residents and others to quickly and easily find out what shops are open for business, either physically open or offering online services. 

We’ve had a great response so far with over 200 businesses signed up on the map, promoting their services to the local Westminster community. 

We have created a stakeholder pack for you to share the campaign to your business and resident audiences, via your social media channels.

For more information about our Shop Local campaign pack, please contact our communications lead Melissa Bocks at

You can inspire the young people of Westminster

We are looking for organisations who can provide young people aged 13-16 with access to vibrant opportunities in Westminster and help inspire their future. 
During this challenging time, the City Lions team is developing virtual resources and programmes to keep young people engaged and educated - many of whom will be missing out on a careers education and important cultural and social experiences due to the lockdown.

There are plenty of ways you can get involved. If you have events you would like to promote, careers opportunities or would like to find out more about how your organisation can benefit from the programme, please contact

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