Coronavirus - service updates
Coronavirus is currently affecting some of our services across the county. For more information, check the individual service updates below.
All of our Adult Education, Kent Training & Apprenticeships and Skills Plus centres across the county will be closed from Friday 20 March until further notice.
This means that none of our classes will run from any of our physical buildings until further notice. During this time, however, there is much that we can continue to do to keep adult learning, vocational training and skills running within the county.
Some of our courses can be run virtually via electronic devices and bespoke software. Learners on courses such as languages, maths, fitness, creative writing and much more will be contacted directly with information about how this can happen.
We will also be keeping Moodle (our virtual learning environment) openly accessible. Our goal is to ensure that as many people as possible can continue their programme of study for as long as possible.
We are also fully committed to ensuring 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 people who are unable to complete their programme because of centre closures, we will offer an appropriate alternative.
Most of our teams are equipped to work from non-office, or non-centre-based locations and will continue to work during regular office hours with full access to emails, telephones and related materials.
For answers to common questions about how coronavirus is affecting social care, check the social care section of our your questions answered page.
Home essentials in a crisis
The Kent Support and Assistance Service is currently experiencing high levels of demand due to the current coronavirus pandemic.
Given this demand, priority is being given to applications for food and utilities.
At present, other items, including furniture and clothing, will only be awarded under exceptional circumstances, such as where an individual has had to move into unfurnished accommodation in order to self-isolate.
All applications will be processed as quickly as possible. Your patience is appreciated at this difficult time.
Social care recruitment
We are postponing our Recruitment Open Day on 24 March 1pm to 4pm at Riverside Vineyard Church, Thanet Way, Whitstable, CT5 3JQ until later in the year. We are looking at different ways to share information about our vacancies, further details to follow next month.
Multi Agency training bookings
All our planned multi-agency training workshops are suspended for the foreseeable future.
Birth and death registrations
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.
Birth registrations are currently on hold until further notice. Please continue to check this website for updates.
We are taking steps to ensure that as many of the cases already listed on our website as possible can go ahead with appropriate precautions being taken. We will continue to list inquests which have not yet been listed for as long as we are able.
For more information read our statement from the senior coroner team (PDF, 106.1 KB).
Following the government’s announcement on 23 March, all ceremonies due to take place during the 3-week national lockdown period have been cancelled. We are also cancelling all notice of marriage and civil partnership appointments during the lockdown.
Where possible, our Ceremony Teams will be working from home and will be working through all customer email enquiries as quickly as possible.
We appreciate this is a very stressful time and hope to help all our customers as soon as possible. Thank you for your patience and understanding.
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
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
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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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.
If you need to make a new application, please use the online application form. We will try our hardest to process all paper applications received up to the 25 March 2020, but any application or information received by us after this date using Royal Mail may be delayed.
British businesses that may face disruption due to the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) can call the business support helpline on 0300 456 3565 and visit the government business support website for more information.
For answers to common questions about what support is available to businesses, check the business section of our your questions answered page.
We understand that the ongoing outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) and the measures to increase social distancing present a real threat of financial distress to our suppliers. We are working to pay our suppliers as quickly as possible, but email us at AccountsPayableInvoices@kent.gov.uk if a payment is outstanding.If you are experiencing difficulties continuing to provide services to us due to the financial distress caused by the outbreak, send your contact details to one of the following email addresses and we will be in touch to discuss the help that may be available as soon as possible.
If you supply:
- children’s services, email email@example.com
- adult social services, email firstname.lastname@example.org
- any other services, email email@example.com.
We want to thank our suppliers for providing critical services and support during the ongoing outbreak of coronavirus.
We are providing free advice and support to businesses affected by COVID-19 and can help with the following:
- food standards including labelling, composition and testing of foods/drinks and food supplements
- product safety including toys, electrical products, cosmetics and personal protective equipment
- animal health including animal movements and sales and the import and export of live animals
- contract law
- accuracy of descriptions
- pricing and promotions.
Email TSbusinessadvice@kent.gov.uk with a brief description and preferred method of contact.
The next information event on Tuesday 14 April is cancelled.
All fostering information events due to take place in March or April 2020 have been cancelled.
Kent Country Parks are open for local visitors who can visit on foot.
Our rangers are only undertaking essential tasks such as health and safety patrols and our cafés, visitor centres and play areas are closed for now.
Please do not drive to the country parks as the car parks are closed, instead use a park or open space near to where you live to exercise.
You can find lots of great ways to exercise in your local area on the Explore Kent website.
We will not be taking any new bookings across any of our services (events, venue hire or birthday parties) until end of April 2020.
Following a general briefing from the governing body National Drivers Offender Retraining Scheme (NDORS) all classroom based courses have been suspended for an initial period of 12 weeks, from 9am on Friday 20 March 2020 until 12 June 2020.
There are currently no further details for any client who has had their course suspended. The Kent Driver Education Team or the Police Force your driving offence was with will contact you by email as more information becomes available.
If you have not yet booked your course and have recently received a course offer letter to attend either a National Speed Awareness Course, National Motorway Awareness Course or a What`s Driving Us Course, we have now opened course spaces so that you may book and pay for a course on or after 1 July 2020.
For further information visit the NDORS website.
Nursery and school places for children of key workers
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.
The decision to close schools has been made centrally by the government which announced all schools will close until further notice from Friday (March 20). Schools will, however, remain open for those children of key workers and the most vulnerable.
The government has said key workers included NHS staff, the police and delivery drivers whilst children who are vulnerable include children with education, health and care plans.
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
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, please read our guidance for families during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Chaperone licence DBS checks
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
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 a child of school age or below is involved in performances, they must be licensed and properly chaperoned.
Free School Meals
General health concerns
In light of COVID-19, all non-essential services have been temporarily reduced or stopped, with online or telephone support being made available where possible. We urge people to look after their health in this difficult time and, if in doubt, we recommend people to call services for more information.
We ask all service users to stay at home and do not attend a service if you have:
- a high temperature
- a new, continuous cough
- or think you may have come into contact with coronavirus.
We are working closely with Public Health England (PHE) and the local NHS to respond to the situation and PHE are updating the coronavirus page on the GOV.UK website daily. The latest information about confirmed cases of coronavirus in Kent is also published on our Media Hub.
Residents are urged to keep up with guidance and advice from government to keep ourselves safe, protect our health and livelihoods, and come through this together.
Health visiting service
The health visiting service is operating on a reduced basis.
Families with a new baby will still be offered a face-to-face appointment at their home between 10 and 14 days. All other contacts will now be on the phone unless there are exceptional circumstances.
Groups and clinics have been stopped and services will be delivered online or remotely using telephone/skype where possible. Health visitors can be contacted by calling the districts duty line. For more details please visit the Kent Community Health NHS website.
Due to the closure of schools, the immunisations service is currently planning a scaled back immunisation programme and is awaiting further guidance from NHS.
For more information please visit the Kent Community Health NHS website.
Infant feeding services
Breastfeeding drop in groups have been stopped.
Those requiring breastfeeding support are encouraged to:
- visit the We are Beside You website
- follow Beside You on Facebook
- follow Beside You on Instagram
- to contact a health visitor through the district duty line.
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.
NHS Health Checks
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
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
We encourage people to stay healthy and make positive lifestyle choices. To do this you can:
- visit the One You website
- download the free One You apps
- follow One You Kent on Facebook
- or follow One You Kent on Instagram for more support.
Referrals will still be accepted to new clients who are happy to be supported. To refer please either:
One You Kent health walks
All health walks have been suspended until further notice.
One You Kent lifestyle advisors
Advisers will continue to support clients in their lifestyle journeys. These will be offered as telephone support only.
One You Kent smokefree
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
All weight loss groups have been stopped temporarily. Support will be offered by telephone for those on existing groups.
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
The service is currently unable to take any more referrals until further notice.
School Public Health Service
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.
Sexual health clinics
If you are attending our service, please consider whether you need to be seen urgently or whether your visit could be postponed. This is to reduce the number of patients sharing our waiting areas. 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.
For all new attendances from 23 March 2020, sexual health clinics will operate on an appointment only basis, no longer offering walk in clinics. Patients will be triaged by phone and appointments organised based on those patients presenting the highest risk.
Substance misuse service
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.
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
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 is closed until further notice.
For benefits, housing and other district services, visit the Ashford Borough Council website.
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 is closed until further notice.
For benefits, housing and other district services, visit the Sevenoaks District Council website.
Gravesham Gateway is closed until further notice.
For benefits, housing and other district services, visit the Gravesham Borough Council website.
Sheppey Gateway is closed until further notice.
For benefits, housing and other district services, visit the Swale Borough Council website.
Swanley Link is closed until further notice.
For benefits, housing and other district services, visit the Sevenoaks District Council website.
The building is open with the following services operating:
- Monday to Friday 11am to 3pm
- Saturday 11am to 2pm
For benefits, housing and other district services, visit the Ashford Borough Council website.
Thanet Gateway Plus is closed until further notice.
For benefits, housing and other district services, visit the Thanet District Council website.
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
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.
Blue Badge appointments are temporarily suspended.
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.
Our highways teams are undertaking only those highest priority 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 phone 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.
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.
The Kent Archive Service is temporarily closed until further notice.
For any enquiries please email firstname.lastname@example.org and our staff will try to respond as soon as we can.
All 99 libraries will close to the public, including the mobile library service, from normal closing time on Friday 20 March 2020 until further notice. We will keep this under review and will be guided by national developments.
We will ensure all loan periods are extended for all customers until the end of June. If you already know that you will need further extensions after June, please let us know by emailing email@example.com. Some of these changes may take time to implement so please bear with us while we work through them.
If you have reservations, or reservations on order, they will be kept safe until we re-open. Once we re-open, they will be available for 10 days before going back into circulation. If you cannot collect the reservation during that time due to self-isolation, we will refund you the reservation fee or reorder it at no additional charge.
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.
We will do our best to maintain or extend the Home Library Service to the most vulnerable as far as possible.
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.
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. Details of live planning applications are available to view on our website.
Public rights of way (PROW)
The coronavirus outbreak is having a significant impact on the levels of service the PROW and Access Service are currently able to deliver. In line with government advice our officers are only visiting the countryside to deal with urgent safety matters. All programmes of maintenance work 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, ready to implement as soon as restrictions are relaxed.
Bus passes for older or disabled people
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.
Gravesend to Tilbury Ferry
From 10am Thursday 19 March, we will be introducing social distancing measures to ensure everyone on the ferry has the ability to stay a safe distance from each other. A maximum passenger capacity of 20 persons will be in force. Passengers are requested to use full use of the vessel including all outside spaces.
There will be two exceptions (for the interest of school children travelling to and from the last few days of school), the 0725 and 1600 sailings will operate at the normal capacity of 50.
Passengers wishing to avoid crowded spaces are requested to use alternative sailings.
Government advice is changing daily, please check one of the following for more updated information:
The Kent Karrier continues to be available at the current time, 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.
To help members follow government advice not to go out unless absolutely essential, we will allow each Kent Karrier member who needs to, to nominate a friend, neighbour or relative to use the Kent Karrier to collect their shopping for them.
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.
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
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.
To support parents and reflect the fact that passes will not be in use for part of the valid period, we will make some refunds available to parents against the Travel Saver fee.
At the moment the details of this and how payments will be made need to be determined, but all parents will be contacted once this is established.
For parents paying by instalments, the final payment due on 28 March will not be taken.
From 31 March, our office will not be manned, we are available to deal with urgent enquiries, but will not have any access to post.
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)
Schools transport service continue to be provided while we understand the ongoing needs for any children still attending school.
Demand for these services is very limited, so if no use is being made of the service or where schools are closed, services are being withdrawn.
Arrangements for any new services needed to support children still attending school or for some attending different sites will be supported as these become known to us.
Public bus services
The majority of services continue to operate but many are now providing reduced timetables reflecting significantly reduced demand for services.
Arriva and Stagecoach both have emergency timetables in place across their networks.
Operators have been asked to prioritise services to ensure that all areas continue to get some level of service with reductions focussed on evening journeys and frequency reductions.
Journeys providing for key workers, often those services running to hospitals have been prioritised.
Some public buses operating on school days only are being retained despite the closure of schools where they may provide for some access to shops for the elderly who can now travel before 9:30am using their ENCTS Pass.
Please check with your local operator for particular details.
Household waste recycling centres (HWRC)
The government is directing residents to only leave the house for 1 of 4 reasons:
- shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible
- one form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle - alone or with members of your household
- any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
- travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home.
All Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs) are closed until further notice.
We appreciate this is frustrating for residents but is necessary following government advice on stopping the spread of coronavirus.
We understand the frustration some residents will have wanting to make use of the HWRC service, but until they reopen, please keep hold of those items or make use of district/borough council bulky waste collections - check with your local district or borough council for updates to their service.
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 whilst the sites are closed, 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.
Bin collections for residual waste and recycling continue but check with your local district or borough council for updates to their service.
Staff normally employed to run the HWRCs have been transferred to duties elsewhere and if necessary will support collection authorities to maintain the kerbside collection services.
Household waste rubbish collection
Contact your district council to find out when they will collect your rubbish and recycling.
Your questions answered
Answers to your questions about how coronavirus is affecting our services.
The latest news on coronavirus in Kent including links to the advice from the NHS and Public Health England.
NHS advice on the risks, the symptoms and what to do if you think you have coronavirus.