How you can help the community at this challenging time & more news

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Our response to coronavirus

We are working with the NHS, Public Health England and others to do everything we can to help stop coronavirus spreading and make sure that residents across the borough, particularly those most vulnerable, are protected as much as possible.

This bulletin contains important advice for all of us to follow, ways you can help the community, and some other council news too. 

NHS advice

Stay at home if you have either:

  • a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)

Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.

Use the 111 online coronavirus service to find out what to do.

Only call 111 if you cannot get help online.

How long to stay at home

  • if you have symptoms of coronavirus, you'll need to stay at home for seven days.
  • if you live with someone who has symptoms, you'll need to stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person in the home started having symptoms.
  • If you live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long-term condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, try to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days.
  • If you have to stay at home together, try to keep away from each other as much as possible.

Read NHS advice about staying at home.

Visit the NHS website >

How to avoid catching and spreading coronavirus (social distancing)

Everyone should do what they can to stop coronavirus spreading.

This means we must all do things differently. This includes:


  • wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds.

  • always wash your hands when you get home or into work.

  • use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available.

  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze.

  • put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards.

  • avoid close contact with people who have symptoms of coronavirus.

  • only travel on public transport if you need to.

  • work from home, if you can.

  • avoid social activities, such as going to pubs, restaurants, theatres and cinemas.

  • avoid events with large groups of people.

  • use phone, online services, or apps to contact your GP surgery or other NHS services.


  • do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.

  • do not have visitors to your home, including friends and family.

Read more >

Child with mum

Local response to the pandemic

We have created a dedicated webpage containing the latest health and local advice, which you can visit at

This includes information for residents and business owners alike, and we are adding further details each day on things like:

School closures 

Schools in the UK will close on Friday 20 March until further notice. Some will remain open for vulnerable children and children of key workers. We are expecting further information from the government on this and will update you accordingly. You can also read a statement from Christine McInnes, our Divisional Director, Education and Partnerships and get details for the Department for Education coronavirus helpline.

There are some great resources on talking to your children who may be worried about coronavirus, such as this advice from Place2Be.

Social distancing

This includes avoiding social activities, such as going to pubs, restaurants, theatres and cinemas, and avoid events with large groups of people. It also means avoiding from group worship.

Tonight, the Chair of Inter Faith Forum in Tower Hamlets has urged all faith buildings to cease public worship until it is safe to recommence. Read the full statement from the chair, Reverend Alan Green. 

Protection for tenants 

The government has announced a package of measures to protect renters and landlords affected by coronavirus. This includes a ban on evictions and additional protection for renters. Read more on the government's website

We working with housing associations to make sure who fall into difficulty are supported to remain in their homes.

Council tax

We have a council tax reduction scheme, which offers support to residents. The scheme is means tested and the council offers a 100 per cent discount on council tax for residents on the lowest incomes.

If your income reduces as a result of the current coronavirus pandemic and you already receive council tax reduction, please let our benefits service know.

Read more >

Community spirit

How you can offer support in the community

As the impact of coronavirus spreads across the country, community support groups and residents across the borough are coming together to support vulnerable individuals who need extra help during this difficult time.

The council works closely with the voluntary and community sector in Tower Hamlets. We know many of these organisations are making arrangements to support people who need extra help.

To help support this vital work we are letting people know how they can get involved.

How you can help >

Idea Store

Service changes and updates

Making sure we continue to deliver our critical services despite these unprecedented times is our top priority, and we have continuity plans in place which we are constantly reviewing.

However, some of our services and opening hours are affected, for example:

Changes to library services

Idea Stores currently remain open, with some changes to services and opening hours.  Bethnal Green Library, Cubitt Town Library and Local History Library & Archives are currently closed.

Read more on our website, along with other key changes, such as disruptions to the transport network. We will be providing further information as soon as it is available.

More information >

Tower Hamlets polling station

Mayoral and London Assembly elections postponed

The government has announced that the Mayoral and London Assembly elections which were due to take place on 7 May will be postponed for a year to May 2021 due to the Coronavirus outbreak.

You can find more information on the London Elects website.

More info on London Elects website >

Person in Veolia uniform collecting bins

Waste and cleaning disruption

Our waste service crews have been working hard today carrying out refuse collection services across the borough to minimise disruption in the wake of strike action last week and criminal damage to 41 of the Veolia’s refuse vehicles on Monday night.

We have had extra teams out to help catch up on a backlog of waste collections, and have prioritised collections of waste from schools (including food waste) and clearance of the worst effected housing estates. Street cleansing teams are fully resourced and working hard to help remove litter and deal with overflowing bins and accumulations of rubbish across the borough.

Please note:

If you have symptoms of Coronavirus, personal waste (such as used tissues) and disposable cleaning cloths should be stored securely within disposable rubbish bags. These bags should be placed into another bag, tied securely and kept separate from other waste. This should be put aside for at least 72 hours before being put in your usual external household waste bin. Other household waste can be disposed of as normal. See further advice from Public Health England.

More on bin collections >

Other council news

We understand these are unprecedented times, and that many of you will be worried about the spread of coronavirus.

It's all hands on deck at the council to make sure all of our crucial services can continue to support and protect our residents, particularly those most vulnerable, as much as possible. We are doing all we can to urge our residents to follow NHS advice to protect themselves and others. 

However, at this time, we wanted to share some other council and community news and updates from earlier this month. 

If you'd like to take a short break from the regular (and really important) reading you're undoubtedly doing on coronavirus, please scroll down.

Remember, you can visit at any time for the latest information.  

Construction apprentices' in uniform standing on site.

We've hit our 1,000 apprenticeship target

We have helped to create more than 1,000 apprenticeship opportunities across the borough, hitting the target set by Mayor John Biggs in his ‘apprenticeship commitment’.

In 2017, the mayor pledged that WorkPath – our employment and training service – would work with local businesses and training providers, as well as with our own HR department, to generate 1,000 new apprenticeship places in the borough and surrounding areas by 2020.

Read the full story > 

Chris Stevens, David allows, Councillor Rachel Blake and Mayor John Biggs viewing the interior of a new build home.

Work nearing completion on 33 new council homes 

Work on 33 new council homes is nearing its conclusion. Mayor John Biggs and Councillor Rachel Blake joined construction company Bouygues UK to celebrate the completion of work on the exterior of the Locksley A site on Rhodeswell Road.

Locksley A is one of three new build council housing developments that Bouygues UK are building within the borough, providing a total of 77 new homes for local people, including families, on the housing register.

Safer Together

Operation Continuum warrants sees 14 people arrested for drug offences

Following a number of warrants being executed last week,14-people have been arrested for drugs supply offences across the borough.

A six-month investigation led by the Tower Hamlets Gangs Taskforce, were part of Operation Continuum – an ongoing partnership operation between us, the  police, and local housing associations to arrest those involved in the supply of Class A and B drugs.

A total of 20 warrants were executed around the Mile End area.

Large quantities of Class A drugs and cash have been seized by police.

Quit Smoking stall outside Whitechapel Station

Take the #NoSmokingChallenge

Last week, we launched the #NoSmokingChallenge in partnership with Quit Right on National No Smoking Day.

The #NoSmokingChallenge aims to encourage people to quit smoking by highlighting what you could buy for the same cost as a pack of cigarettes. It also calls on residents to get involved and tweet their own purchases using the hashtag.

People smoking 20 cigarettes a day could save more than £3,000 a year by quitting. 

Quit smoking now >

Young people's question time stage

Young people's question time

Last week, young people from across the borough had the opportunity to quiz a panel of community leaders at the ‘Spotlight’ Lansbury Youth Centre including Mayor John Biggs and Young Mayor, Jaami Barry.

The question time was part of the ‘BeHeard’ series of ongoing events aimed at allowing local communities, especially young members, to engage their leaders in debate and discussion. Questions ranged from the future of funding for youth services, cuts to the council’s budget to mental health and staying safe when using social media.

Read the full story >

planning permission

We've asked court to review Secretary of State's decision on Westferry Printworks

We have started the process of challenging the Secretary of State’s decision to grant planning permission for the Westferry Printworks site. This decision went against the our local development plan and the wishes of residents.

We are seeking leave to legally challenge the decision on the ground that it was biased and favoured the developer.

Read the full story >

Coronavirus: useful links

Thank you for reading

We hope you have found this edition of our residents' e-newsletter useful. We are also providing regular updates on coronavirus to our health and wellbeing subscribers. 

To ensure you receive updates on coronavirus, if you haven't already, please subscribe to 'health and wellbeing' this link

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