Woolwich Town Hall
Council staff are scrambling to deal with the consequences of the outbreak

The leader of Greenwich Council says he has been “blown away” by the community’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, and has introduced new measures including banning non-essential visits to care homes for the elderly to combat the spread of the virus.

Talking to BBC Radio London this morning, Danny Thorpe said “social care and community resilience” had been emphasised during a conference call with London council leaders and the government yesterday.

“We are working hand in glove with the government and the NHS to ensure we face up to this unprecedented challenge – we’ve never experienced anything quite like this,” Thorpe told the station’s breakfast show.

He added the social care system in particular was already under “significant strain” ahead of the virus and emphasised the council was working will “all agencies involved to ensure that people can get the care they need in the best possible place”.

He confirmed the council has also introduced sudden rules to help reduce the potential spread of the virus to vulnerable groups.

“Locally for example we’ve introduced a policy already to ban non-essential visitors to care homes where vulnerable people are, and working with our hospital who have already had to introduce visitor restrictions to try and stop the spread of the virus,” he said.

Despite the rapid escalation of measures to combat the virus – culminating in prime minister Boris Johnson yesterday asking Londoners to avoid pubs and other social events to avoid potentially spreading the illness – Thorpe praised the community response so far in Greenwich.

“I’ve been absolutely blown away by the levels of support across Greenwich and London from people who are keen to help,” he said.

“Obviously in these times people are working from home already and want to be able to do their bit.”

Greenwich Council itself has called for volunteers to help with neighbourly activities during the outbreak (sign up here), while “mutual aid” Facebook groups have sprung up across SE London communities in a bid to better co-ordinate aid efforts.

The council has begun to postpone non-urgent meetings and other events while the Glyndon by-election will also be postponed as it begins to direct its resources towards Covid-19.

Thorpe’s counterpart in Lewisham, elected mayor Damien Egan, has fronted an appeal for the borough’s food bank which has raised £4,000 in less than 24 hours.


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Lachlan Leeming is the Local Democracy Reporter for Greenwich. The Local Democracy Reporter Service is a BBC-funded initiative to ensure councils are covered properly in local media.
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