Lockdown continues: please keep doing the right thing

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Message from the Mayor

As we approach another weekend where we will all be spending more time at home than we would ideally like, I wanted to thank those of you who have been doing what is necessary to help stop the spread of this virus.

Last night, the government confirmed the existing social distancing measures will remain in place for at least the next three weeks. I know this is hard but I urge you to please continue to stay at home. In doing so you protect the NHS, which helps to save lives.

If you do leave your home, it should only be for one of these reasons and should be for as little time as possible:

  • to shop for basic essentials – only when you really need to.
  • to do one form of exercise a day – such as a run, walk or cycle, alone or with other people you live with.
  • for any medical need – for example, to visit a pharmacy or deliver essential supplies to a vulnerable person.
  • to travel to and from work – but only where this is absolutely necessary.

Many of you will know people who have received food deliveries from the council this week – delivered by staff and volunteers. Some of you may even have received them yourselves. I recently visited our Emergency Food Distribution Centre where the boxes are made up and I was really impressed by the dedication and determination of everybody working together to protect our most vulnerable residents. When we clap for our carers and key workers next Thursday, let’s give them all a round of applause too.

For those people that are not at a higher level of risk, occasional trips to the shops for essential supplies are still necessary. In the bigger supermarkets, there are queuing systems in place to help people stay a safe distance apart. Unfortunately, this week we have seen examples of long queues forming to get into local smaller shops where people were far too close together. On Thursday, the crowds outside shops in Shadwell were a particular concern.

This virus is invisible. Anyone can catch it and anyone can spread it. Try to visit the shops at quieter times of day, stand two metres behind the person in the queue and keep your distance when you’re walking through the aisles. It will make a huge difference.

This weekend and in the weeks ahead, let’s all show that in Tower Hamlets we protect our neighbours. Some of us will be working to care for the sick or elderly, others will be volunteering to support the vulnerable but most of us can have the biggest impact by simply staying at home.

Stay safe, 

Mayor Biggs

Staying at home

Vulnerable residents who are self-isolating

People with serious underlying health conditions are now self-isolating and avoiding all face-to-face contact. This advice is currently expected to be in place until the end of June but is being closely monitored by the government and the NHS. Residents affected by these measures should have received information from the NHS clarifying the advice and how to access help during this time.

To ensure this group of extremely vulnerable people have access to essential supplies such as food and medication, the council is offering support.

We have a dedicated phoneline (020 7364 3030) and online form where people with urgent needs can ask for help. Where these are identified, the council will support residents. We can also offer these people help if they’re concerned about money or debt, along with social isolation.

Find out more about how we can help people self-isolating on advice of the NHS.

Help safely NHS image

#LookingOutForEachOther: safe ways to provide support

A reminder that you should only leave the house for very limited reasons and when it is essential to do so.

If you are well and not in the increased risk group, you can leave the house to provide care or to help a vulnerable person in the community. But please remember, it’s really important that you do so safely. 

There are many ways you can provide support to a friend, family member or neighbour who is in isolation. These include helping someone with food shopping, collecting and delivering medication or simply picking up the phone and having a friendly chat. 

If you are picking things up for others, try to limit the amount of time you spend outside of your home by picking up essential items for them when you do your own shopping, or collecting their medicines during the same trip.

It’s important to look out for each other and encourage others to look after their physical and mental health, but please do keep staying at home as much as possible.

If you're lending a hand or supporting the community, why not share your story on social media using #LookingOutForEachOther and #TowerHamletsTogether.

How to help safely >

Every Mind Matters

Every Mind Matters – tips on caring for your mental health  

Taking care of your mind, as well as your body, is really important while staying at home.

The NHS’ Every Mind Matters website offers helpful advice for looking after your mental health, including 10 tips to help if you are worried about coronavirus.

Read more >

Business support

Attention business ratepayers: take action to get support

Your business may be eligible for government support due to the coronavirus pandemic.

As of Wednesday this week, we had delivered rate relief worth £97,812,005 to 3,118 businesses as well as grants of £10,000 to 1,725 small businesses and grants of £25,000 to a further 640 businesses.

We are reaching out to another 3,408 businesses that have not yet provided us with their bank details in order to arrange the transfer of an additional £45,165,000 in grants.  

These businesses need to provide their bank account details and upload a current copy of a bank statement to the council's secure 'MyAccount' portal. We still need to hear back from some businesses so that we can make the support payment.

We are sending out further reminders, but if you think this may apply to your business, please read more and take action as soon as possible.

Get business support >

Support fund

Mayor agrees £10.5 million COVID-19 fund

A new £10.5 million fund has been approved by Mayor Biggs as part our wider plans to protect vulnerable children and adults, homeless people and families facing serious financial problems due to coronavirus.

The new fund adds to the significant range of assistance we are already providing so we can support our borough through this challenging period. 

We will ensure the extra funding helps our residents and businesses and will continue to work with our partners our communities. Together we are all focused on helping people who are struggling.

Find out more >

Victoria Park

Reminder about rules for visiting Victoria Park 

Victoria Park remains open with the reduced hours of 8am - 4pm on the east side of the park and 8.30am - 4pm on the west side. There are a range of additional control measures in place to help make sure visitors observe government guidance and social distancing rules.

Please use the park responsibly:

  • Stay two metres away from other visitors at all times
  • Only exercise outdoors once a day - such as a run, jog or walk, alone or with other people from your household
  • Static exercises such as yoga, pilates, general fitness training and exercises that can be done at home are not allowed
  • Adult cycling is not allowed in the park at this time
  • Leisure cycling is allowed for children under the age of 12 who are accompanied by an adult - the adult must be walking or running alongside, and not on a bicycle themselves
  • Exercise = keep moving → get home, stay at home
  • No gatherings, sunbathing or picnics
  • Group and individual sports or games including ball games and activities such as frisbee and kite flying are not allowed at this time (including those activities that involve being two metres away from others)
  • Use of playgrounds, toilets, gym equipment and benches is prohibited
  • Give way to people exiting the park
  • Keep left on pathways and avoid narrow ones
  • Keep dogs on a lead and on the grass, where possible
  • Anyone who enters Victoria Park when it is locked does so at their own risk

We also urge all visitors to be respectful and kind to staff, volunteers and police, who are all working hard to keep you safe and keep the park open.

Failure to follow guidance or new control measures could result in fines or closure of the park. 

If you'd like to volunteer to help in Tower Hamlets, visit our website.

Victoria Park FAQs >

Empty London bus

Travel updates

A reminder that we should all be staying home and not traveling unless it is absolutely essential. If you're a key worker and your journey is vital, please note the following updates and offers.

Board buses from centre doors from Monday

From Monday 20 April until further notice, buses in London will require people to board from the middle doors only, as part of our collective efforts to combat coronavirus. This change will improve safety for bus drivers and enable better social distancing while London is working together fighting the virus. Read more from Transport for London.

Cycling support for key workers

There are lots of offers to support key workers at this time, including free bikes and cycling-related services to help keep them moving during the pandemic. Find out more on Sustrans' website

Thank you


A big thank you to everyone working tirelessly at this time to keep all of us in Tower Hamlets healthy, safe and supported.

From volunteers to carers and health workers, delivery drivers to street cleaners, parks officers, housing providers, our enforcement officers, transport workers and emergency services - the list goes on and everyone in the community is truly grateful. 

We want to give a special mention this week to our wonderful teaching staff who are supporting our young people and keeping them safe, and to all staff and volunteers who have been involved in providing free hot meals for families in Tower Hamlets over the Easter school break.

We think Olivia, a pupil from Manorfield Primary School has put it perfectly in the card pictured above, where she says: "Thank you for coming to school and putting smiles on our faces. I have never smiled and laughed so much." An incredible effort at this challenging time.

See more amazing stories of how people are helping in Tower Hamlets by searching the hashtag #TowerHamletsTogether on social media. 

Happy at home

Staying healthy, happy and entertained at home

We have put together a whole host of resources to help you and your family stay happy, healthy and entertained while you're spending the vast majority of your time at home due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Staying home, whether as a family, alone or with housemates, is a huge change to our daily lives and we know it can be particularly challenging for those sharing smaller spaces, as is the case for many Londoners.

From learning a new skill or hobby to reading e-books, taking a virtual museum or zoo tour, staying active and much more, we've got it all in one place.

Stay home activities >

Coronavirus: useful links

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Updates in other languages

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The government is also publishing advice in a range of languages on its website.