COVID-19 Virus Questions & Answers

Last updated: 28/4/2020

Helpful contacts by clicking here

IMPORTANT: If you begin self-isolation as a result of having suspected or diagnosed COVID-19 symptoms, please notify Cirencester Housing immediately upon the need to self-isolate.
This is so we can take action to support you and help prevent the spread of the virus.

  1. What are the Government Guidelines and what should I do about them?

We are very pleased to hear numerous stories of support to families, friends and neighbours during these difficult times.  We ask that you continue to do so within the Government’s guidelines.

  • Stay at home
  • Only go outside for food, health reasons or work (but only if you cannot work from home)
  • If you go out, stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people at all times
  • Wash your hands as soon as you get home
  • Do not meet others, even friends or family. You can spread the virus even if you don’t have symptoms.

https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

Enforcement of the rules are a matter for the Police.  If you are concerned about failure to comply with the restrictions, then we recommend that you report it at the time it is happening to the Police by dialling 101.

Cirencester Housing does not intend on taking action with tenants in regard to complying with Covid-19 regulations unless it is part of a joint effort initiated by the local police.

  1. Is the Cirencester Housing office still open?

Our offices are now closed with all members of your Cirencester Housing team relocated to working from home.  They have been set-up with computers and phones to allow them to continue to provide customer support remotely.

We remain contactable in the usual manner, by phone, email and post. Our aim is to continue to offer services to our tenants understanding that there will be limits and disruptions to delivery of these services in these extraordinary times. We ask for your understanding and patience.

  1. How will Cirencester Housing provide the services we need?

To better support you, we arranging to receive phone calls Monday 9:30am to 5pm, Tuesday to Friday 9:30am to 4:30pm. We will do our upmost to answer the phone if you call. However, we are a small team and some members are not always available. It is important that you leave us messages to enable us to respond to your call. When you phone in, we may ask you some questions that will help us keep you informed and support you during the Covid-19 pandemic. This might include paying your rent, meeting to sign paperwork or other appointments s arranged with Cirencester Housing staff.

We are able to conduct video calls using a variety of platforms including Zoom, WhatsAp, Skype and Microsoft Teams by prior arrangement.

  1. Will Cirencester Housing staff still attend appointments and visit tenants?

Cirencester Housing staff will not visit you in your home to minimize the risk of exposure. Where possible, we will offer alternatives such as phone, video calls and email communication.

  1. Will Cirencester Housing repairs and maintenance contractors still be making and attending appointments?

NKS Contractors will only attend repairs if it is an EMERGENCY in line with our emergency out-of-hours services that are clearly outlined in the tenant handbook.

To request an emergency repair, please phone 0800 041 8377 free from any UK mobile or landline. It rings direct to NKS. You should report emergency repairs to NKS even if you are in self-isolation.  NKS has agreed a protocol with Cirencester Housing on how to respond in these circumstances.

In preparation for easing of the lock-down we are beginning to review potential repairs. Tenants may report potential repairs by emailing contact@cirencesterhousing.org.uk, by phoning 01285 658377 or completing the contact form on our website. We will be unable to provide an indication of when a non-emergency repair request will be acted upon. Reporting the repair will help us contractors plan for the next weeks and months.

  1. What is classified as an Emergency repair?

Emergency repairs include:

  • Total loss of water supply
  • Uncontrollable water leaks
  • Unusable taps in the ‘on’ position
  • Blocked toilet or soil and vent pipe if it’s the only one in the property
  • Blocked drain that are backing up and causing flooding
  • Missing inspection chamber covers
  • Severely damaged or dangerous roof
  • Electrics sparking or smoking, or bare wires
  • Total loss of electric power
  • Total loss of heating (October – March)
  • Unsecured property
  • Items that may pose a risk to health (NKS will assess the situation)

Emergency and gas servicing repairs and maintenance will be prioritised.  If your household is in self-isolation, and you need an emergency repair, this needs to be considered on a case by case basis on how to respond.  In the first instance, phone 0800 0418377 requesting an emergency repair explaining you are in self-isolation.  It is important that we leave no household in unsafe conditions.

  1. What can I do to maintaining my home?

Many small repairs around your home may be the tenant’s responsibility or you may be able to perform a repair if we are unable to arrange a contractor to attend. Please check with Cirencester Housing before undertaking works as many of our homes contain ASBESTOS.  Those tenants that live in homes with an Asbestos risk will have been notified at the time of signing their tenancy agreement and annually thereafter that their home is at risk of Asbestos. An Asbestos leaflet is available on our website under the ‘Policies’ section.

You may call during regular business hours 01285 658377 to discuss repairs you may wish to undertake and check on the risk for asbestos in that area of your home.

  1. What about cleaning the communal areas within flat blocks?

Cirencester Housing’s gardening contractor continues to perform their services.  Our cleaning contractor has discontinued services of communal areas of buildings during the lockdown.  We do not anticipate this resuming in the near future.

We will no longer be testing the fire alarms weekly. Testing the alarms weekly is not required as we have a specialist company service and maintain the fire alarm system every 6-months.  However, once lockdown restrictions are eased, we will resume our weekly visits to the estates to monitor use of communal areas.

Keeping the communal areas clean and free from items relies on all tenants and residents co-operating to maintain the area for the health and safety of all.  Please do not store any items in the communal areas.  If you need to report items being left there, please take a photo and email it to contact@cirencesterhousing.org.uk indicating when the items were left and where they are located.

  1. What do I do if I’m self-isolating?

Now is the time to pick up the phone and communicate with family and friends or your local community. The government recommends people self-isolating put notices on their door. Cirencester Housing is happy to provide you laminated notices for this purpose. Contact us to request one.

Below is a list of considerations that may help you prepare and sustain a positive frame of mind during self-isolation. Make your own list and how you are preparing. If you are concerned you may not be able to manage all your needs, contact family and friends for assistance. If you require further support or assistance, we have provided a list of contacts for you to use at the end of this Q&A. If you still need assistance, please contact Cirencester Housing and we will do our best to help.

  • Food: do you have a way to get food delivered?
  • Medication: do you have enough medication, or a way to get more?
  • Cleaning: are your cleaning supplies stocked up?
  • Money: can you budget for any higher bills or expenses? Will you save money from lower transport costs that you could spend elsewhere?
  • Work: can you work from home or not? If not, what are your rights to payment or benefits?
  • Health: can you reorganise any planned therapy or treatments?
  • Commitments: can someone else help you care for any dependents, walk your dog, or take care of any other commitments?
  • Connectivity: have you checked the contact details of the people you see regularly, like their phone numbers or email addresses?
  • Routine: can you create a routine or timetable for yourself? And if you live with other people, should you create a household schedule? Do you need to agree how the household will run with everyone at home all day?
  • Exercise: what physical activity you can do inside your home, such as going up and down the stairs, using bean tins as weights, or exercises you can do in your chair?
  • Nature: have you thought how you could access nature? Can you get some seeds and planting equipment, houseplants or living herbs?
  • Entertainment: have you thought about things to do, books to read or TV shows to watch?
  • Relax: have you got materials so you can do something creative, such as paper and colouring pencils?
  • Pets: Are you able to provide sufficient animal welfare such as food, water and exercise?
  1. What happens if my income is reduced and I struggle to pay the rent, bills and buy food?

Please contact Cirencester Housing to discuss the situation. You will be provided with specific guidance, depending on your circumstances. We have also listed organizations that may be able to help at the end of the Q & A.

  1. I am calling on behalf of a relative, friend or neighbor who is a Cirencester Housing tenant.

Data protection restrictions can make it difficult for Cirencester Housing to talk about tenants without consent. The best approach would be to call with the tenant present, so a tenant can verify that you have their consent. We will always try and be as helpful to callers as we can. If this is not possible and someone calls Cirencester Housing to provide a health update of a tenant, this is perfectly reasonable as Cirencester Housing will not disclose sensitive information.

  1. What do I do if a neighbour is self-isolating?

Whether or not you are good friends with your neighbour’s, you should consider them. If self-isolation guidance is stepped up, communicating with your neighbours by phone may become essential. Consider swapping numbers early on and perhaps agree regular neighbourly phone call check-ins. If you are concerned about a neighbour’s health do not contact them face to face. You may wish to leave them a note with your phone number to contact you. You may also wish contact Cirencester Housing and we may then be able to contact the neighbour you’re worried about or their emergency contact.

As you may recall, Cirencester Housing has recently tried to contact all tenants to check that all household details are accurate and up to date. To help us help you, if you haven’t recently updated Cirencester Housing with the details of who is living in your home and your emergency contact, please do so as soon as possible. This way, we are better equipped to support you in times of need, especially those at increased risk of isolation.

  1. What is the coronavirus? 

A coronavirus is a type of virus. As a group, coronaviruses are common across the world. This strain, Covid-19, is a new strain of coronavirus.

  1. What are the symptoms? 

The following symptoms may develop in the 14 days after exposure to someone who has Covid-19 infection:

  • A persistent dry cough
  • A high temperature
  • Shortness of breath

Generally, infections can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease. See below for resources from charities for different group.

  1. What’s the best way to prevent the spread of Covid-19?

Follow the NHS recommendations.

  • Wash your hands often with soap (or soap substitutes) and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser. This is particularly important after taking public transport.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in a bin. You can download a ’Catch it, Bin it, Kill it’ poster (PDF, 940KB) for your workplace from the NHS.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces in the home and work environment.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

Please contact Cirencester Housing if you would like information printed and posted to you.