Please keep following the rules to avoid further restrictions, and more local advice

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Message from the Mayor

Thank you for helping to support and protect each other

I want to take a moment to sincerely thank the vast majority of you who stayed in this weekend, despite the sunshine, in accordance with the current government rules. 

Frustratingly, there were a small minority of instances where this wasn't the case - in a couple of our open spaces and also at the Greenwich Foot Tunnel, which you can read more about further down in this bulletin.

The guidance is really clear and I urge everyone to keep following the rules. If you are out for daily exercise, keep moving. This means that you don't sit down on benches, don't meet others or gather in a group, don't sunbathe or have a picnic, and don't use playgrounds or outdoor gyms. If you do go out for exercise or essential supplies, make sure you wash your hands often and as soon as you arrive home. To some this might seem over the top, but it’s not, it really will save lives.

On Sunday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned the small minority of people who are still ignoring social distancing policies to do the right thing to make sure the restrictions on our daily lives don't increase. In Tower Hamlets, we want to keep as many parks and spaces as possible open, but we can only do this if you all help us to maintain public safety by following the rules.

It’s clear we’re in challenging and uncharted waters, not just in Tower Hamlets but across the country and indeed the globe.

I understand that staying home for an extended period is not always easy and so it's vital we all acknowledge this challenge and take steps to look after our mental health and wellbeing. Local support is available too.

In another nod to how unprecedented these times are, Her Majesty the Queen gave a rallying address to the nation last night, reminding us all that we will get through this together. The East End is a resilient community with great collaborative spirit, and I know we will come out the other side of this stronger than before. You can watch the Queen's message on the BBC website.

Stay safe, 

Mayor Biggs

Royal London Hospital

Guidance on hospital visits

To help stop the spread of coronavirus, many hospitals have stopped or significantly limited visits. People should check the hospital's website before visiting to find out the latest advice.

Barts Health NHS Trust has published details about visiting its hospitals.

Along with checking information online first, residents can also call the ward ahead of visiting to discuss individual circumstances. You can find contact details for Barts hospitals on its website.

We understand restrictions may cause disappointment or distress in some situations, but they are vitally important and are in place to help protect the vulnerable and stop the spread of the virus.

The NHS has published guidance on how to safely visit someone in hospital during the coronavirus pandemic.


New teams support families dealing with the loss of a loved one

New specialist teams made up of healthcare and emergency services staff across London are being trained to respond to instances of someone passing away when it is believed to be as a result of COVID-19. They will support families by arranging their loved ones to be collected by an undertaker to take them to a funeral home or mortuary, ahead of a burial or cremation.

The aim of the new units, called pandemic multiagency response teams (PMARTs), is to ensure a safe and sensitive response to COVID-19 deaths in the community at home, in a care home or hospice and therefore reduce demand on the London Ambulance Service.

Families of those who have sadly passed away will not be required to visit register offices to notify the death of their loved one in person. The borough's PMART will take care of that process and people can book an appointment online for a telephone death registration.

Domestic abuse image

Help is still available for victims of domestic abuse

We know that many people are concerned about an increase in domestic abuse incidents during the coronavirus pandemic.

Although many services have had to change, we are committed to protecting the support we provide to victims of domestic abuse. You can find a full list of local services on the council’s website along with contact information. There is also safety advice for anyone living with an abuser and information if you’re worried about a friend or a neighbour.

Remember, in an emergency always call 999. If you’re in danger and unable to talk on the phone, call 999 and then press 55. This will transfer your call to local police who will assist you without having to speak.

Crimestoppers also has information on spotting the signs of domestic abuse and advice about what to do if you’re a victim of domestic violence and abuse.

Greenwich foot tunnel

Weekend behaviour brings Greenwich Foot Tunnel closures

Due to the high number of people using the Greenwich Foot Tunnel, including people on bikes and in groups, the Royal Borough of Greenwich was left with no choice but to close the foot tunnel yesterday (Sunday 5 April) to ensure public safety.

The foot tunnel, which links Island Gardens to Cutty Sark, reopened at 11pm last night to help early morning commuters and people working nightshifts to get to and from work.

The closure may be repeated at weekends for the foreseable future including Good Friday to Easter Monday (10 - 13 April).

While it’s disappointing the tunnel had to close, it is a confined space and public safety must come first if people are not adhering to social distancing guidelines. We will work with Greenwich Council to monitor the situation.  

Read more >

Business support

Support for businesses: update on grant payments

The government recently announced there would be extra support for small businesses, and businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors, in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

We have identified eligible ratepayers and started issuing grant payments to local businesses. We have also identified and contacted business rate account holders we believe may qualify for the grant payment, but whose business bank details we do not hold.

We have so far contacted the those who may qualify by email on Friday 3 April, asking them to update their bank details using the council's secure 'MyAccount' portal, so that payments can be issued to them as quickly as possible. 

We will be sending out further important information by letter within the next few days. If you receive a letter, please read it carefully as you may be required to take further action. 

Read more & avoid scam emails >

Support line

Food packages and support for vulnerable residents

We're receiving a high volume of calls to our new phoneline, which is in place to support those identified by the NHS as being at the highest risk of severe illness from coronavirus and those who are vulnerable or particularly worried at this time. 

We are committed to supporting residents at this time but urge people to use this phoneline only if they are extremely vulnerable or need urgent support, as detailed on our website to ensure those who need it can reach us.

We're also aware of messages circulating on social media telling people to contact the hotline for ‘free' food boxes. Please be aware the food boxes are for those who have been identified as extremely vulnerable and as such cannot leave their homes, or for those who are isolating and genuinely need urgent help getting supplies.

On Sunday alone, our team of staff and volunteers arranged and delivered food and grocery boxes to 187 residents in Tower Hamlets and we're incredibly grateful for their efforts. 

How to request support >

Students take exam

Update on GCSEs, AS and A Levels this year

Following on from the government's decision to cancel this year's exam series for high school students in England, more information is now available on how grades will be awarded this summer. 

The government has worked to develop a process which fairly recognises students’ work and makes sure they get their grades in time to progress.

If this applies to you or your child, please make sure you read the details about how GCSEs, AS and A Levels will be awarded.

There is also further guidance for teachers, students, parents and carers.

Thank you


It's been heartening to see so many wonderful people and organisations stepping up to help those who need it as we all work together to tackle coronavirus.

In Tower Hamlets, the volunteer response has been second to none and we're very grateful for all the individuals and groups putting their hands up to help through the Tower Hamlets Volunteer Centre. 

If you're helping in the community, why not take a moment to share a photo or a story on social media using the hashtag #TowerHamletsTogether? It could be anything from displaying your child's rainbow drawing in your window to dropping off essential supplies to a neighbour, or maybe you're a small business or organisation supporting people in a different way. Every little gesture will help us get through this together.

Across the council, staff continue to work tirelessly to deliver our vital services, protect and support residents and respond to the situation as it evolves each day. Find out more about service changes and support on our coronavirus webpage

Coronavirus: useful links

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