Coronavirus - service updates

Last updated: 8 July 2020

Coronavirus is currently affecting some of our services across the county. For more information, check the individual service updates below.

Training centres

High impact

All of our Adult Education, Kent Training & Apprenticeships and Skills Plus centres across the county are closed until further notice.

Adult education courses

Medium impact

During this time, some of our courses can be run virtually, learners on courses such as languages, maths, fitness, creative writing and much more will be contacted directly with information about how this can happen. Alternatively, for those who are unable to complete their programme because of the closures, we will offer an appropriate alternative.

We are committed to ensure that as many learners as possible can complete their qualifications. In the case of GCSEs, we will be guided by national advice. For other qualifications such as functional skills in English and maths, we are currently exploring ways in which learners will be able to sit their exam in an appropriate setting. We will be providing details of how this can happen in the near future.

For more information visit the Kent Adult Education website.

Social care

For answers to common questions about how coronavirus is affecting social care, check the social care section of our your questions answered page.

Birth registrations

Medium impact

We are now taking bookings for birth registration appointments. For more information please visit our register a birth page.

If your child was born outside of Kent and Bexley, you must register your baby with the local authority where the birth took place. Kent and Bexley are currently unable to facilitate birth declarations.

If you need any further information about registering a birth, call us on 03000 41 51 51.

Death registrations

Medium impact

Due to the current situation with coronavirus, it is not possible to book an appointment to register a death in person. Instead, death registrations will be carried out by telephone.

Find out more about our new temporary registration process.

Ceremonies

Medium impact

Weddings and civil partnerships can now take place across Kent. Our Ceremony Team are working through all customer enquiries as quickly as possible.

For more information visit the Kentish Ceremonies website.

Citizenship ceremonies

High impact

You would normally be expected to book your citizenship ceremony within 3 months of being sent an invitation from the Home Office.

Due to the current pandemic circumstances UK Visa Immigration (UKVI) have extended this period to 6 months and will keep this under constant review.

No adverse decisions will be made on applications because of delays caused by coronavirus.

Certificate Centre enquiries

Medium impact

Our Certificate Centre is running a limited service and certificates will be issued as soon as we are able.

The centre is closed for face to face appointments.

Face to face assessments

High impact

We are currently unable to offer any Blue Badge face to face assessments.

Our assessment team will be in contact with any applicant that already has an appointment booked, and we are taking every measure to continue to assess applicants using alternative assessment methods where possible.

If we need to hold your application because of this temporary freeze on appointments, we will be in touch with you as soon as possible. Please do not contact us regarding these appointments unless you receive an email from us asking you to contact us directly.

Application processing

Medium impact

Application processing may take longer than usual during this period, but the assessment team are continuing to progress applications as normal.

Adding additional documentation:

If any applicant would like to submit further information or evidence from a professional to support their application, you can upload this using our self-service portal or email this to imaadmin@kent.gov.uk. This evidence should give information about how applicants are impacted when mobilising outside of the home environment, and details of any conditions which impact the applicant when mobilising.

Postal applications:

We also may struggle to process post at this time, which will delay applications either being made or already in progress using this postal route. To ensure that your application is not delayed, please use the self-service portal to upload any documents to support your application.

New applications:

If you need to make a new application, please use the online application form. We will try our hardest to process all paper applications, but any application or information received by us after this date using Royal Mail may be delayed.

Adoption

Low impact

Find out more about adoption in Kent and their up and coming information events by visiting the Kent Adoption website.

Fostering

Low impact

Find out more about adoption in Kent and their up and coming information events by visiting the Kent Fostering website.

Country Parks

Medium impact

In response to revised government guidelines, most of our car parks and toilet facilities are now open. Please make sure that you observe social distancing rules when visiting.

Our rangers are only undertaking essential tasks such as health and safety patrols, our cafés are offering a takeaway only service and our visitor centres and play areas are closed for now.

All existing season tickets will be extended by 3 months. This will be reviewed if the car parks are expected to be closed for a longer period. No new or renewal season tickets can be purchased at this time.

You can find lots of great ways to exercise in your local area on the Explore Kent website.

Events

High impact

We will not be taking any new bookings across any of our services (events, venue hire or birthday parties) until the end of July 2020.

Courses

Medium impact

If you are due to attend a course between 12 June and 3 August 2020 you will be contacted shortly to give you further information about changes to your current classroom based courses.

If you have yet to book on one of the following courses:

  • National Speed Awareness Course
  • National Motorway Awareness Course
  • What's Driving Us Course

Please book your course online.

Those who need to attend a Safe and Considerate Driving Course or a Rider Intervention Developing Experience Course (RIDE), please email KDE@kent.gov.uk and we will contact you back as soon as we can.

For further information visit the NDORS website.

We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause as the suspension of these courses are out of their control.

Nursery and school places for children of key workers

Medium impact

If you feel your child is eligible for a nursery or school place because you are a key worker, but have been denied, please contact us.

For nursery and childcare settings:
Email - kentcfis@theeducationpeople.org
Call: 03000 41 23 23

For school settings:
Email: emergencyschoolplaces@kent.gov.uk
Call: 03000 41 21 21

Read the latest update about early years and childcare settings reopening.

Schools

Medium impact

More than 250 primary schools in Kent were open to additional pupils between 1 and 5 June, and we expect this number to increase as more schools are able to put additional safety measures in place. We anticipate that very soon the great majority of Kent’s primary schools will be open to all or some of Years R, 1 and 6, as well as to nursery children for those that have a nursery onsite.

We have worked closely with head teachers to support them in their preparations for this further opening, and we will continue to offer support going forward. Ensuring our pupils and staff can learn and work in a safe environment remains our overriding priority and we are also working closely with Public Health England (PHE) to ensure that any suspected cases of COVID-19 within a school are managed effectively to minimise the spread of the virus. PHE will offer advice to any school that needs it on self isolation, infection control measures and cleaning, while schools will be making sure pupils wash their hands often and staff will be cleaning frequently touched surfaces regularly and minimising contact with other people as far as possible.

These are unprecedented times and we would like to thank school staff and colleagues for their hard work and dedication in ensuring schools are ready to safely welcome back additional pupils.

For answers to common questions about how coronavirus is affecting schools, check the education section of our your questions answered page.

Special educational needs and disability (SEND), Kent’s local offer

Medium impact

We will continue to work on both our SEND improvement programme and our work to support families. We have moved most of our staff out of office locations and are planning for significant staff absence over the coming weeks meaning we will increasingly focus on high priority work with those families most in need of support.

If you or your family receive services, as far as possible, we intend to continue to deliver services where they are needed. We have advised those staff who are able to, to work from home, but to continue to stay in contact with yourselves. This means that whilst our offices will continue to remain open at the moment, they will be running on skeleton teams.

If you have any concerns for either yourself or your family, please do contact your worker directly or their manager if they are not available.

For more information and for details of the temporary new law about Early GElp Care Plans and Assessments, please read our guidance for families during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Education, health and care (EHC) needs assessment requests

Medium impact

We want to ensure that, as far as is possible, our services to children, young people and their families are maintained. However, postal services and our internal processing of mail is severely impacted. Our SEN officers are able to work remotely so we hope to continue with our work without too much disruption

If you would like to request an assessment of your child’s education, health and care needs, please could you could send a short email to let us know that you wish to make a request and provide your contact details. We will then get back to you with information about next steps and to arrange how you can share any information about your child with us.

If you’re unable to contact us by email, we would be happy to receive a request over the phone during this period.

For our contact details please visit the SEND team page.

Chaperone licence DBS checks

High impact

Unfortunately, the service for the ID checks for a DBS is now on hold until further notice due to current government advice. This will be reviewed regularly.

You are still able to continue with your chaperone application but there will be a delay in your licence being issued due to the DBS checks being on hold. If you chose to continue with the application, we will be able to inform you once this service has been resumed.

Children in entertainment licences

High impact

Due to the government’s new rules on staying at home and away from others, we have suspended the issuing of performance licences, Body of Persons Approvals and work permits until further notice. This will be regularly reviewed, and arrangements adjusted accordingly as and when the guidance changes.

If you need to contact us for any queries regarding this, please call 03000 420883 or email childemploymentandentertainment@kent.gov.uk.

Free school meals

Medium impact

Children eligible for free school meals will benefit from a national voucher scheme allowing them to continue to access meals whilst they stay at home.

Schools can now provide every eligible child with a weekly shopping voucher worth £15 to spend at supermarkets while schools are closed due to coronavirus.

Find out more by visiting the national government website.

Kent Test

Medium impact

We understand that many of you with children in year 5 are very anxious to know what will happen about the Kent Test when the new school year starts in September. Read our Kent Test update.

Health visiting service

High impact

The health visiting service is operating on a reduced basis.

If you're pregnant we'll be in touch.

If you have a new baby (between 10 and 14 days old) we will offer you a face to face appointment in a clinic or at home in exceptional circumstances.

We'll also arrange virtual sessions (by Skype or WhatsApp) when your baby is:

  • 6 to 8 weeks old
  • 9 to 12 months old
  • and 2 to 2 and a half years old.

We may be able to offer face to face sessions in exceptional circumstances.

All development check clinics, groups and healthy child clinics have been temporarily suspended.

Visit our health visiting service page for contact details of our local teams.

Immunisations

High impact

Due to school closures, this service is currently planning a scaled back programme and is awaiting further guidance from NHS.

For more information please visit the Kent Community Health NHS website.

Infant feeding services

High impact

Breastfeeding drop in groups have been stopped.

Those requiring breastfeeding support are encouraged to:

For those mothers or babies with complex feeding needs, the specialist service will continue to operate and referrals should be made via the Kent Community Health NHS website.

Live Well Kent

Low impact

Live Well Kent services are continuing to provide support while adapting the way they work to follow the latest official advice and guidance across Kent.

If you are currently being supported by a Live Well Kent service, they will be in touch with more information about how they can continue to support you. If you have any questions or need to speak to someone, please contact the particular service that is supporting you.

Live Well Kent are still accepting referrals so if you need support or need to refer someone you can call their referral line 0800 567 7699, email info@livewellkent.org.uk or contact services directly.

For support about managing your mental health during this difficult time please visit our looking after your mental health page.

NHS Health Checks

High impact

The NHS Health Checks service has been suspended until further notice.

No new appointments will be made and all patients with existing appointments will receive a notification of appointment cancellation.

One You Kent Ashford shop

High impact

Unfortunately the One You Kent shop in Ashford is now closed to the public and all groups and events have been postponed.

One You Kent healthy lifestyle service

Medium impact

We encourage people to stay healthy and make positive lifestyle choices. To do this you can:

Referrals will still be accepted to new clients who are happy to be supported.
Due to the current guidelines we are currently not able to offer support in person, however across Kent our trained One You advisors can continue to support you via telephone or video call.

To register for support from One You please complete our One You Kent referral form.

You can also call 0300 123 1220 to speak to a friendly advisor who will be able to talk through your options and direct you to your local service, or you can email oneyou.kent@nhs.uk and an advisor will contact you back.

One You Kent health walks

High impact

All health walks have been suspended until further notice.

This includes group walks, social activities and other meetings. Please visit the Walking for Health website or the One You Kent website for more information.

One You Kent lifestyle advisors

Medium impact

Advisers will continue to support clients in their lifestyle journeys. These will be offered as telephone support only.

One You Kent smokefree

Medium impact

Anyone trying to quit smoking with One You will continue to be supported via telephone.

For any new referrals, you can call our support line on 0300 123 1220.

One You Kent Weight loss

High impact

All weight loss groups have been stopped temporarily. Support will be offered by telephone for those on existing groups.

Postural stability

High impact

Classes have temporarily stopped and no referrals are being taken for the time being.

If you're using the service, your provider will be in touch to check on you.

Residential recovery housing

High impact

The service is currently unable to take any more referrals until further notice.

School Public Health Service

Medium impact

The School Public Health Service is operating on a reduced basis.

All referrals to services including the Emotional Health Service should be made through the Single Point of Access (SPA). Referrals will be triaged daily and referred to an appropriate service. Phone consultations will be offered with advice and signposting where required.

Please contact the service by:

Other School Public Health Services:

  • Vision and hearing assessments for reception year pupils are not being carried out.
  • Chathealth confidential texting service for young people aged 11-19 will run as normal.

Young people can text the School Health Team about any concerns or health issues on 07520 618850. The number is monitored Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

Parents, young people and schools can access a range of helpful information and resources via the Kent Youth website, or for more information visit Kent Community Health NHS website.

Sexual health clinics

Medium impact

For all new attendances, sexual health clinics will operate on an appointment only basis and will no longer offer walk in clinics. Patients will be triaged by phone and appointments organised based on those presenting the highest risk. Those that require a face to face appointment will be required to wear a mask or face covering for the duration of their visit to the sexual health clinic.

You can access home testing for sexually transmitted infections to avoid attending a clinic. HPV, hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccinations are not urgent and can be postponed.

If you are HIV positive and worried about your risk of coronavirus, there is currently no evidence that people living with HIV are at any greater risk of either getting coronavirus, or becoming unwell due to coronavirus, than the general public. We do not recommend that you should attend for additional blood tests to check your CD4 count.

For more updates visit the British HIV association, however, we do recommend that you follow current NHS guidance about how best to protect yourselves and others from coronavirus. If your appointment is coming up soon then we may contact you beforehand to offer you a telephone or Skype consultation instead of coming into a clinic.

If you would like to discuss your attendance with a member of the team, please call:

Emergency oral contraception

Low impact

Emergency oral contraception is still widely available via pharmacies in Kent. If you

require this service, you will need to call your pharmacy for a virtual consultation first which, after completing, will enable you to collect your treatment

Substance misuse service

Medium impact

CGL and Forward Trust will continue to take referrals but will screen the most urgent cases. Due to this response times and waiting list times will be longer than usual.

Advice and support to patients will be provided but capacity will be limited due to staff having to self-isolate. Please refer only the most urgent cases. Contingency is being sought for opioid substitution therapy for prescriptions .

Group sessions for psychosocial support will be suspended.

The needle exchange programme will continue to operate.

For more information, visit your provider’s website or call them directly.

Targeted relationships

Medium impact

The service is currently continuing to accept online referrals via the Barnados website, however we will no longer be offering face-to-face sessions. Project workers will aim to deliver sessions through digital means, for example by phone, Skype or Facetime.

For those vulnerable young people still attending school, schools will be asked to provide a quiet environment in order for the session to take place by phone. Project workers will also offer all young people a wellbeing check via phone call between sessions.

The service will continue to accept referrals for the foreseeable future via the usual routes.

Young person substance misuse service

Medium impact

We Are With You will continue to take referrals but will screen for the most urgent cases.

They will offer phone, skype or other digital communication during this time.

Please do not make postal new referrals, please alternatively either:

Ashford Gateway

High impact

Ashford Gateway is closed until further notice.

For benefits, housing and other district services, visit the Ashford Borough Council website.

Dover Gateway

High impact

Dover Gateway is closed until further notice.

Dover District Council’s office is closed until further notice.

For benefits, housing and other district services, visit the Dover District Council website.

Eden Centre

High impact

Eden Centre is closed until further notice.

For benefits, housing and other district services, visit the Sevenoaks District Council website.

Gravesham Gateway

High impact

Gravesham Gateway is closed until further notice.

For benefits, housing and other district services, visit the Gravesham Borough Council website.

Sheppey Gateway

High impact

Sheppey Gateway is closed until further notice.

For benefits, housing and other district services, visit the Swale Borough Council website.

Swanley Link

Medium impact

The building is open with the following services operating:

Post Office: Monday to Friday 10am to 4pm

For benefits, housing and other district services, visit the Sevenoaks District Council website.

Tenterden Gateway

Medium impact

The building is open with the following services operating:

Post Office: Monday to Friday 10am to 4pm and Saturday 11am to 2pm.

For benefits, housing and other district services, visit the Ashford Borough Council website.

Thanet Gateway

High impact

Thanet Gateway Plus is closed until further notice.

For benefits, housing and other district services, visit the Thanet District Council website.

Tonbridge Gateway

High impact

Tonbridge Gateway is closed until further notice.

For benefits, housing and other district services, visit the Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council website.

Tunbridge Wells Gateway

Low impact

Tunbridge Wells Gateway is open.

Please only visit if it’s an emergency and follow government guidelines.

For benefits, housing and other borough services, visit the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council website.

Fixing problems on the road or pavement

Medium impact

In consideration of the latest guidance from the government it has been necessary to change our normal approach to dealing with customer enquiries in relation to the highway. First and foremost is the safety, health and wellbeing of our front line staff and the very important service they provide in keeping the highway safe.

We are prioritising works to remove potential hazards and keep the highway safe for users. You may well see them out in KCC Highways vehicles and they have authority to continue working as they are providing a critical service.

If you need to raise a highway enquiry please do so in the normal way by reporting it online or by calling 03000 41 81 81 (emergencies only). Please do not approach highways staff whilst they are going about their work as we need to follow government guidelines on social distancing.

We are continuing to provide a highway maintenance service and you will see existing and planned roadworks continuing. Our contractors are constantly reviewing government advice on construction work so this may change.

Many utility companies are also continuing with their work to ensure services are provided to customers.

Please accept our apologies for the delays in routine highway enquiries but these are exceptional circumstances we find ourselves in.

Traffic surveys

High impact

We will not be accepting any traffic survey data obtained from our network from 16 March 2020, until further notice. Transport consultants and developers will need to discuss individual applications with us to determine if any other solutions may be available. Speed surveys will be considered on a case by case basis.

Archives

High impact

The Kent Archive Service is temporarily closed until further notice.

For any enquiries please email archives@kent.gov.uk and our staff will try to respond as soon as we can.

Home library service

High impact

If you are an existing home library service member, we will be contacting you directly to offer our voluntary befriending service. This would involve the opportunity of a call on a weekly or two weekly basis to chat to a member of our friendly volunteering team and staff.

Find out more about other befriending services if you are feeling lonely during this time.

Libraries

Medium impact

From 13 July we will be reopening 12 libraries across Kent.

Services will be limited to our new Select and Collect service, pre-bookable computers and WiFi. Due to social distancing measures, we are not allowing bookshelf browsing.

Find out more about our new Select and Collect service.

Remember that our digital collections are always available. These include reference resources as well as free e-books, e-audio books, a vast range of the latest e-magazines and daily e-newspapers. These can be accessed via our libraries pages.

The Ask a Kent Librarian Service will remain available on 03000 41 64 38, email akl@kent.gov.uk or via 24/7 chat online.

You can now create a free temporary 3-month membership online, without leaving your home. This enables you to download free eBooks, eAudiobooks, eMagazines, and eNewspapers.

Planning applications

High impact

We have suspended notifying neighbours of planning applications submitted to the County Planning Application for a decision.

For as long as we are able to, we will continue to advertise applications using a site notice in the vicinity of the application site and, where necessary, a public notice in local newspapers.

View details of planning applications.

Fixing problems on a public right of way

Medium impact

Due to the coronavirus outbreak our officers are only visiting the countryside where social distancing can be implemented and its considered safe to do so.

Contracts to clear natural surface vegetation are underway as normal but will be delayed due to additional safety measures. Other programmes of maintenance work are also subject to delay or have been halted and our volunteer wardens have ceased activity.

However please do continue to report any problems and these will be prioritised. We are continuing to organise programmes of work and progress our legal work as far as we can.

Byway permits

High impact

We unfortunately cannot issue any byway permits due to coronavirus restrictions.

Bus passes for older or disabled people

Medium impact

To support earlier shopping trips, as an emergency and temporary measure, the majority of bus services across Kent are accepting older or disabled person's bus passes before 9:30am at no charge.

We are unable to deal with any postal applications at the current time as we are unable to access inbound post.

To apply please use our online application form or email buspass@kent.gov.uk.

Gravesend to Tilbury Ferry

Medium impact

Due to social distancing a maximum capacity of 20 persons have been enforced for passenger safety.

Passengers wishing to avoid crowded spaces are requested to use alternative sailings.

There will be two exceptions (for the interest of school children travelling to and from the last few days of school), the 7:25am and 4pm sailings will operate at the normal capacity of 50.

School children wishing to travel outside these times will still be permitted however will be subject to the restricted capacity/social distancing measures.

Government advice is changing daily, please check one of the following for more updated information:

Kent Karrier

Medium impact

The Kent Karrier continues to be available to members who need it most. The service should only be used as a means to access essential services and shopping and if members are able to get their shopping and access essential services in any other way, they should do so.

We will allow each Kent Karrier member who needs to, to nominate a friend, neighbour or relative to use the Kent Karrier to collect members' shopping.

The member or their nominee will need to pay for the journey as usual, and the nominee will need to be picked up from and dropped back at the member’s address with their shopping and/ or medicines.

The booking will still need to be made by the Kent Karrier member and when the booking is made, the operator should be told that the member is making use of the nomination system and who the nominee is. The nominee will need to quote the Kent Karrier membership number, so members need to make their nominees aware of their Kent Karrier membership number.

Unfortunately at this time, we are unable to process any new member application forms. If you have sent correspondence or applications to the office since 23 March please note that this is currently unlikely to be picked up.

No Kent Karrier renewals will be issued at present but any members whose membership ran out from January 2020 onwards, will continue to be a member of the Kent Karrier and have the right to use the service until further notice. Members do not need to contact us or do anything else even if their membership is expiring. Until further notice, they can carry on using the service as usual if they are unable to nominate someone to do so on their behalf.

KCC Travel Saver and 16+ Travel Saver

Low impact

KCC Travel Saver and 16+ Travel Saver bus passes will continue to be valid on all bus services during usual valid periods despite the closure of schools.

Parents have asked us questions about how our Travel Saver schemes will be operating in future and whether we will be providing compensation for bus passes unable to be used because of school closures. For more information please visit our your questions answered page.

Requests for replacement passes can still be made over the phone and online and we are trying to arrange for these to be sent to your home address directly.

With lots of schools closed, many children not travelling and bus services being suspended, we have decided to temporarily suspend applications for passes.

Free home to school transport (including SEN transport)

Low impact

The government advice remains to avoid the use of shared transport at the current time. As the demand for services is currently very low, we are only providing services where:

  • children are going to school
  • children do not have any other means to travelling to and from school.

If your child is going back to school and uses free school transport, find out how we can help your child attend school and make sure transport is in place.

School bus services

High impact

The national guidance about public transport remains that you should avoid it where possible.

Special timetables will be in place from 1 June to assist with the reopening of some schools and businesses, so please check with the bus operator before travelling.

As the current guidance is to avoid public transport where possible and as schools are not open for the majority of students, dedicated school services will not operate. If we become aware that there is a need which cannot met by other modes of transport or the Monday to Friday bus service, we will work with schools and operators to reinstate school bus services.

Additional guidance was introduced on 15 June, we have put together 3 simple steps to make sure that your journey is as safe as possible:

  1. Be prepared: plan your journey in advance if possible, avoiding peak times. Have your face covering ready and consider using contactless payment or have the exact change ready.
  2. At the bus stop: give others space and be prepared to wait longer than usual.
  3. On the bus: you must wear a face covering. Follow operator guidance, do not close any windows and sit only where you're instructed to.

Buses to hospitals

Low impact

To help key workers get to and from Kent hospitals, we have arranged for some of our funded bus services to continue on Sundays.

The following services will all operate over the long weekend to maintain links for the areas concerned:

  • 36 (Herne Bay to QEQM Hospital)
  • 58 (West Malling to Maidstone Hospital)
  • 297 (Tenterden to Tunbridge Wells)
  • 666 (Faversham to Ashford)

Passengers are encouraged to check with their operator for particular timetable details.

Household waste recycling centres (HWRC)

Medium impact

Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs) are now open for essential use, you will need to book a slot before visiting.

We, together with the district and borough authorities, urge residents to protect themselves from illegal waste carriers who often target householders with cheap rates to take their rubbish away.

If you want to dispose of waste, consider using a reputable skip hire company or HIPPO bag supplier who can also supply you with a waste transfer note to evidence where your waste will be disposed of.

Household waste rubbish collection

Low impact

Contact your district council to find out when they will collect your rubbish and recycling.