COVID-19 update

Category: News Item

Published: 8 Apr 2020

Published 8 April 

Bank holiday update

With the bank holiday weekend coming up, council staff are working hard to keep our key services running. These include upkeeping and patrolling our parks, running bin collections, looking after vulnerable adults and children, registering births, deaths, and marriages and maintaining our roads.

Due to COVID-19 some of our services have had to pause or change but all our staff are still working hard, having moved over from non-critical areas to critical services. Many of our staff have moved to our new Well-Being service, answering the phones and supporting the most vulnerable in our community.

On Friday we took time to celebrate all of our fantastic staff who have been working so hard under these difficult circumstances, you may have seen our posts on social media. Many local people took the time to put out kind messages to our waste collection staff and this was greatly appreciated. I know this is not an easy time but small acts of kindness really make a huge difference.

This bank holiday our waste collection dates will shift slightly as they usually do on bank holidays. Please see below for the new dates, and remember to combine your recycling and household waste into bin bags. We are not currently collecting recycling from recycling boxes.

Although the weather is set to be fair this weekend please follow the Government guidelines and stay inside as much as possible. I know this isn’t easy but it will help us all stay safe and well and will protect our NHS staff who every day are risking their lives to look after those with the virus.

We are lucky in Redbridge to have so many fantastic parks and stunning green spaces - these will stay open as long as they are used responsibly, that means keeping 2M away from others, exercising alone or with our household and not engaging in group sports or using the play equipment or outdoor gyms.

I know that the vast majority of local people are trying really hard to do the right thing and I really appreciate the efforts you are making. If we can all just follow the Government guidance we will get through this trying time together.

Thank you,


Cllr Jas Athwal

Leader of Redbridge Council

Published 2 April

Update for residents

I have been contacted by concerned residents and I wanted to take the opportunity to give a brief update and allay some fears local people may have.

We all agree that everyone deserves respectful and dignified care on their final journey, and it is a core part of the response to the COVID19 pandemic to ensure that people are kept safe, and the process for managing death is effective, dignified and respectful.

Plans are being developed to cope with the possibility of additional deaths and manage London’s mortuary capacity. As part of this, several suitable sites across London have been identified to host additional mortuary space.  Those that are closest to us in Redbridge are in Newham, Havering and Waltham Forest.  Work has started at these sites to build temporary mortuaries, which will only be in place for as long as there is a need for them. The mortuaries are being built in a way to ensure the rights of all faith groups are respected.

One mortuary is currently being built on Manor Flats, in Newham – this site is part of an area known locally as Wanstead flats. The temporary mortuary is being constructed by Government-appointed contractors with the sole purpose of affording local people dignity in death. The site will be concealed with fences and, in order to prevent the spread of the virus, visits from family members will not be permitted.

I hope that none of us have to go through this, but the very sad fact is that we may well need to. But to protect ourselves and others as much as we can, we must continue to follow government guidelines. Please stay safe and look out for your neighbours.  

Stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.

Cllr Jas Athwal

Leader of Redbridge Council

Published 27 March

Social distancing saves lives

The COVID-19 virus has presented many challenges for each of us. Further Government restrictions introduced on Monday have changed our way of life and meant we can’t spend time with many of our loved ones. However, these restrictions were brought in to keep us, and those around us, safe during this pandemic.

I understand this has not been an easy time for many of us, but we must all play our part, follow Government instructions and help protect our NHS.

You may not yet know anyone who has COVID-19, it may still seem like a distant danger but I am afraid it is not. The virus is extremely contagious and the number of people infected increases every day across London.

Although some people will only experience mild symptoms from the virus, many could suffer terrible consequences and some in our community will die.

That is why is it vital we all do our part to stop the spread of the virus and keep our friends, family and neighbours safe.

The Government advice is clear, we must all stay at home unless we need to buy food, have a medical reason for leaving the house, need to travel to work or want to exercise alone, once a day.

As a council we are doing all we can to stop the spread of the virus, we are changing the way our staff work, offering support to those in need and closing spaces where infection is likely. Now it is your turn to help keep everyone safe.

Please do not use the playground equipment in the parks, this has been closed for a good reason. COVID-19 can live on surfaces for hours, so you risk your children catching the virus from equipment every time you let them play.

The same is true for the outdoor gyms – you might want a workout, but you could leave the park infected with COVID-19 picked up from the machines. It is not worth the risk.

For the time being, we have made the decision to keep our parks open. However the guidance is clear – you can visit the park alone, or with your household, it is not a place to socialise. Having a picnic or gathering with friends in the park risks their health and your own. Safe stay and keep your distance.

If residents continue to ignore social distancing rules or use the playgrounds and outdoor gyms we will have no choice but to close the parks altogether.

We each have a personal moral responsibility to do the right thing and keep ourselves and others safe. Every time you leave the house you risk your own health and the health of everyone you come into contact with. Think before you act.

Social distancing saves lives.

Thank you for playing your part,


Cllr Jas Athwal

Leader of Redbridge Council

Published 26 March

Changes to our rubbish and recycling

Dear resident/business,

I wrote to everyone recently regarding changes to our rubbish and recycling collections.

We’ve reached the point where we must make further changes to the current service to ensure that we are able to continue to collect household rubbish, while keeping our staff safe and well.

From Friday 27 March, we will be temporarily suspending kerbside recycling collections. Please put your recycling with your rubbish in black sacks, or in your wheelie bin, if you’re part of the wheelie bin pilot, by 5am.

We are making collections at 5am in order to comply, as much as we can, with the social distancing guidance, issued by the government. We are splitting crews, where possible, and limiting the time that they are in close contact with each other, to keep them as safe as we can.

Green waste and bulky waste collections have already had to be suspended, but now we’ve had to make the difficult decision to stop collecting recycling separately to allow our teams to concentrate on household rubbish. This is simply because we don’t have enough staff available to carry out all the collections safely.  Sadly, many of our rubbish and recycling staff are having to self-isolate due to the COVID-19 national guidance.

From tomorrow, please put out your rubbish and recycling together in black bags, or in bins if your home is part of the wheelie bin pilot. Please also ensure that all bags are closed firmly and not split. If you prefer to hold on to your recycling until the service resumes, please do.

Recycling is really important to us as a Council, however, in these difficult times we are unable to keep household rubbish and recycling separate. Please bear with us until we are able to resume the full service.

The Council’s Green Garden Waste and Bulky Waste collection have also been temporarily paused to ensure that we can prioritise weekly rubbish collections.


You can help us by:


  • Reducing your waste

Over the coming weeks, while our rubbish collection teams operate a reduced service, help us maintain the service by putting out less rubbish so collection trucks have more capacity and can visit more houses.


  • Please put out your bins and sacks before 5am

We’re dividing our waste collection teams onto separate shifts, this means one team will collect bins and rubbish sacks at 5am – please make sure your rubbish is out in time.


  • Please don’t put out green garden waste or request a bulky waste collection

Green garden waste accounts for roughly 1/3 of our rubbish collection capacity. To make sure we’re able to collect household waste on a reduced staffing rota, we will not be collecting green garden waste or bulky waste for the time being. We will re-introduce both collections as soon as possible.


  • Please store your recycling if you have the space

If you have the space to store your recycling, please hold onto it until the service resumes and we’ll collect it when collections start again.


I’d like to reassure you that your recycling will not end up in a landfill or be an environmental threat in the oceans - it will be processed through Renewi’s Mechanical Biotic Treatment Plant and turned into refuse-derived fuel to be used in specialised Energy from Waste plants.

I know this will be difficult, but please be understanding and appreciate that all changes are being made to keep our dedicated staff safe and well, and to allow us to continue to collect your household rubbish

Our staff are doing a great job and I hope you’ll join me in thanking them. If you see them out, please give them a wave, they’ll appreciate it.

The kindness and community spirit shown by those volunteering and supporting each other through this period is truly humbling.  If you would like more information on Coronavirus or details on how to volunteer, visit our dedicated Coronavirus information hub


Remember, please follow Government advice, stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives, and please look out for your neighbours.


Thank you,

Cllr Jas Athwal

Leader, London Borough of Redbridge

Published 23 March

Closure of leisure services

Today, a decision was taken to shut down all playgrounds, outdoor gyms and libraries across Redbridge until further notice.

We now know that the COVID-19 virus can survive on surfaces for an unspecified amount of time and so we judged the risk of transmission via play equipment to be too great for local children.

Many of our library staff are vulnerable to the virus, so rather than risk their health and wellbeing, we have taken the step of closing our libraries. I know how well-loved our libraries are and how difficult it will be for some local people to manage without them – however, the good news is that many of their services will still be available online.

Access E-books, online newspapers and magazines and other services here.

Parks will remain open in Redbridge for the time being, however it is vital that Government advice is followed and we all stay at least 2 metres away from one another. If these instructions are ignored and local people continue to gather in groups in the park, we will have no choice but to close our parks for the safety of everyone.

While we all benefit from being outside in the fresh air, please don’t use parks to socialise, COVID-19 is extremely contagious and so even meeting a friend in the park increases your risk of infection.

All these measures have been taken after great consideration and with the purpose of keeping local people safe and well.

So please, follow Government advice and look out for your neighbours. I know that together we can overcome this difficult time.

Thank you for your help and understanding.

Best wishes,


Cllr Jas Athwal

Leader of Redbridge Council


Published 20 March

This afternoon, the Prime Minister announced that from tonight cafes, pubs, bars and restaurants will be closed, or only offering food and drink to take away, for the foreseeable future.

Nightclubs, gyms, cinemas and theatres will also close tonight.

Although this will have a big impact on the way we live our day to day lives, it is a sensible measure to keep us all safe and well during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Social distancing can be difficult when we would all much rather spend time with our closest family and friends during this trying time, however it is necessary and will make a huge difference to resilience.

During this period, please take time to reach out to those who may be feeling isolated or lonely, a simple phone call can improve someone’s day immeasurably.

There is lots of advice online about managing mental health while social distancing so why not try a few of the following tips:

  • Stay connected with friends, family or volunteer groups. As even when you cannot have face-to-face contact, a friendly voice can be a huge boost to your day. 
  • Listen to your body. During stressful times, or periods of illness, we need to take extra care to make sure we are well-rested and hydrated.
  • Keep busy by completing Redbridge Council’s list of 21 activities to do whilst you are at home.
  • If you are struggling during social isolation, please contact The Samaritans anytime for free on 116 123 or by visiting their website.
  • If you need volunteer support, please visit the new Redbridge Facebook community group.
  • For more information and advice on managing your mental health visit the Mind website

We are a community in Redbridge and so help is never far away.

Please stay safe and well and look out for your neighbours


Thank you,


Cllr Jas Singh Athwal

Leader, London Borough of Redbridge

Schools closing

Published 19 March

Yesterday the Government made the decision to announce that schools will close for the vast majority of pupils at the end of the school day on Friday 20th March.

I know this is going to be difficult for parents, carers, families and students across our community. I also know it will leave many parents and carers feeling anxious and concerned about their children’s education and there will be many questions. I want to allay your concerns and reassure you all that everything possible is being done to keep local people safe and well.

I would like to reassure you that our schools have been preparing for this announcement and they will put a range of measures in place to support children’s learning, and help families manage the impact of school closures on such things as accessing free school meals.

Schools in Redbridge will close for most pupils on Friday 20th March at the end of the school day.

From Monday 23rd March Redbridge’s schools will start to provide education for vulnerable children and the children of key workers. We are currently awaiting advice from the Government on who is included in the list of key workers and in the meantime schools are gathering information on families who may be identified as key workers.

We understand at this point that it will definitely include NHS staff living in Redbridge, Police officers living in Redbridge and Supermarket Delivery Drivers living in Redbridge. At this stage these are the only key worker categories we know about though we anticipate that more professions may be added soon. 

Vulnerable children who will continue to attend school will include those who have a social worker and those with Education, Health and Care Plans.

We will send specific advice and guidance to the families of key workers and others whose children need to be able to continue to attend school as soon as possible.

The Council will provide further updates regularly over the coming weeks to ensure you have the information you need to support your families and local communities during this difficult time. 

Cllr Jas Singh Athwal

Leader, London Borough of Redbridge

Redbridge Joins Together

Published 18 March

I’ve lived in Redbridge for 50 years so I know we’ve always had a strong community spirit here, and now more than ever, we need to harness that strength to get us through this challenging period.

That’s why, as part of the Council’s strategy to combat the spread of COVID-19 and keep local people safe and well, we have launched Redbridge joins Together.

This volunteer network, run in partnership with local charities, connects those who want to help their neighbours with those who need support.

Please join our Facebook page and fill in this form to become part of our community effort.

There is so much we can each do to help,  whether it’s checking on elderly neighbours with a phone call, delivering food to those who are self-isolating, or simply offering moral support during this difficult time. Every act of kindness strengthens our community and makes the world a little better place to be.

I have been inundated with offers to help, neighbours have asked me where they can donate food and who needs support. Redbridge Joins Together is the answer to all these questions and more. So please sign up now.

Share the message with friends, family, neighbours and local businesses and together we will overcome COVID-19.

Thank you,


Cllr Jas Singh Athwal

Leader, London Borough of Redbridge

Update on COVID-19

Published 17 March

Dear friends,


We are facing an unprecedented challenge in the form of COVID-19 but let me reassure you, we are equal to this challenge. Our council staff are working extremely hard to prepare and I have been carefully overseeing the Redbridge response in partnership with our local NHS.


It’s times like this that we must remember how important and supportive our local community is. Already I know many of you have reached out to friends, neighbours, and to the Council to offer help. It’s this community spirit that will serve us all well over the coming weeks and months and I want to thank all those who have contacted me personally to volunteer.


Redbridge Council will be coordinating volunteers who wish to support their neighbours and will send you more information on this in the coming days.


There is so much we can do as individuals and as a community to stop the spread of COVID-19 and to protect the vulnerable. Please read the advice below and let us all do our part to overcome this challenge.


The Government advice is:

  1. People experiencing a new continuous cough or a temperature above 37.8° should stay at home for fourteen days from when their symptoms started
  2. Anyone living with someone with a new continuous cough or a temperature above 37.8° should also stay at home for fourteen days from when symptoms started
  3. People should avoid "non-essential" travel and contact with others


The Government has advised we each take the following steps:

  1. Ensure personal hygiene, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds as regularly as possible, especially after sneezing, coughing or blowing your nose
  2. Stay away from others if experiencing the symptoms mentioned above, new continuous cough or high temperature
  3. Avoid social gatherings, and social spaces like pubs, theatres and restaurants
  4. Look after the most vulnerable and elderly friends, family members and neighbours, ensuring non-face to face contact is maintained and support is provided in a safe and appropriate way.

The Council will continue to provide vital frontline services. If there are any changes to services we will let you know.  Hardship funding and discretionary housing payments will continue as normal, and if you are finding it difficult to pay your council tax we can agree on a payment plan. For more information please visit the benefits pages on our website.


In line with government advice, local schools will stay open. This may change and parents will be updated directly by schools. Please keep an eye on your children’s school website for information.


It is important that any economic hardship suffered by local people and businesses is mitigated as much as possible and so I have written to the Government calling for mortgage relief, rent breaks and business rate relief measures to be implemented.


Locally there has been an increase in people bulk buying in shops, this is unnecessary and can prevent others from having access to things they really need. Please do think before you shop. make sure to only buy what you and your family need and leave enough for others.

It has also been reported to me that some smaller local shops have begun price hiking essential items. This is totally unacceptable.  If you notice any businesses profiteering, please report them.


For more information on COVID-19 please do go to the following websites:

NHS Website:

Redbridge Council Website:


We will share other relevant information with you over the coming days and weeks, and in the meantime, please take care and look out for your neighbours. If you would like to receive news by email, please sign-up at


I know that together we will overcome the challenge of COVID-19 by supporting one another, listening to government advice and coming together as a community.


With best wishes,

Cllr Jas Singh Athwal

Leader, London Borough of Redbridge

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