Local authorities will be central to supporting the new test and trace service in England, with the government providing a new funding package of £300 million.
Each local authority will be given funding to develop tailored outbreak control plans, working with local NHS and other stakeholders.
Work on the plans will start immediately. Their plans will focus on identifying and containing potential outbreaks in places such as workplaces, housing complexes, care homes and schools.
As part of this work, local authorities will also need to ensure testing capacity is deployed effectively to high-risk locations. Local authorities will work closely with the test and trace service, local NHS and other partners to achieve this.
Data on the virus’s spread will be shared with local authorities through the Joint Biosecurity Centre to inform local outbreak planning, so teams understand how the virus is moving, working with national government where necessary to access the testing and tracing capabilities of the new service.
Local communities, organisations and individuals will also be encouraged to follow government guidance and assist those self-isolating in their area who need help. This will include encouraging neighbours to offer support and identifying and working with relevant community groups.
Minister for Patient Safety, Suicide Prevention and Mental Health, Nadine Dorries, said:
Local authorities will be vital in the effort to contain COVID-19 at a community level. The pandemic requires a national effort but that will only be effective as a result of local authorities, working hand in hand with Public Health England and contact tracers to focus on the containment of local outbreaks, in order to control the transmission and the spread of the virus.
For contact tracing to be effective when it is rolled out, we will need people to continue to follow guidelines and stay at home if they have symptoms.
Work will be led by local authority leaders and local directors of public health in charge of planning, and will build on their work to date to respond to coronavirus locally. They will operate in close partnership with local hospitals, GP practices, businesses, religious groups, schools and charities.
These new plans will build on the comprehensive work already being done by local authorities and directors of public health to respond to coronavirus locally.
Local efforts will support the national rollout of the test and trace service, in which everyone will need to play their part to stop the spread of coronavirus.
National Test and Trace Adviser and Chief Executive of Leeds City Council, Tom Riordan, said:
It is essential that communities and local authorities are at the heart of our plans to roll out test and trace. Their work to respond to the virus has been exemplary, demonstrating how people across the country have come together to respond to the virus.
As we move forward with our plans to trace every case of the virus, and contact those at risk, we will need to continue to work together and tailor support at a local level. This joint endeavour between local government, the NHS and local partners will help those in self-isolation, and reduce the risk of widespread outbreaks in our schools, businesses, hospitals and communities.
A new National Local Government Advisory Board will be established to work with the test and trace service. This will include sharing best practice between communities across the country.
Work to share lessons learned will be led by a group of 11 local authorities from the breadth of the UK, representing rural and urban areas, who have volunteered to help localise planning.