Hastings preparing in case of potential second wave

Councils have been asked to plan for a second coronavirus outbreak which is “two-and-a-half times worse” than the first wave, councillors have heard this week. 

Friday, 31st July 2020, 11:20 am
Social distancing signs and marking around Hastings town centre.

The matter was raised at a meeting of Hastings Borough Council’s overview and scrutiny committee on Wednesday (July 29), during a discussion on the authority’s reaction to the initial coronavirus lockdown and the recovery work since. 

During the meeting, the council’s chief executive Jane Hartnell was asked about what preparations the council is making for a potential second wave of infections.

She said: “Normally our business continuity plans would look at events like bad weather or losing a building, where it is about how quickly you can establish yourself somewhere else.

“The scenario we have been asked by the Sussex Resilience Forum to plan for is that the outbreak is two-and-a-half times worse than the one we experienced this time round. 

“The issue for us [planning] as a town of course is we had very minimal impact in terms of infection rates and our staff weren’t off sick with Covid-19 infections.”

Ms Hartnell also said the council had recently taken part in a exercise based on the premise of a worse second wave.

Connected to this staff had also been reviewing the council’s reaction to the initial wave of infections for lessons to be learned.

Ms Hartnell added: “What we are looking at now is how can we cope with an additional lockdown. Clearly there are services that have to be maintained and those are particularly the face-to-face ones with the public.

“[Those] would be revenues and benefits, homeless and housing support and the community hub.”

Ms Hartnell said the council was looking at whether staff from other services could be retrained to do, or support, these roles if needed.

In an extreme situation the authority could also call on (or be called on by) other councils to provide staff as well, she said.

She also paid tribute to the work of officers during the initial outbreak and their work to change how the council operates.

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