This information is being regularly updated in line with latest Government guidance and advice. The content of this page was checked and updated on 31 March 2020.

We've been following the advice from Public Health England and taking all the precautionary action necessary to make sure council services and buildings are safe for the public and our employees. The council has followed the robust infection control processes advised by Public Health England and the NHS. We've also taken additional steps, including: 

  • sharing information about good hygiene practices directly with all employees
  • displaying the government's Coronavirus posters throughout council buildings
  • ensuring that our facilities are cleaned more frequently  

Council services and buildings

The following venues are closed for the foreseeable future:

  • City Library, Houghton Library, Washington Town Centre Library and Local History Library @ETR
  • Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens
  • Arts Centre Washington

Other buildings and services closed for the foreseeable future:

  • Stanfield Centre
  • High Street West 176
  • High Street West 145 (Lambton House)
  • West Sunniside (only open Monday's)
  • Elliot Terrace 34 (Rainbow Centre) only opening for family meetings as and when needed
     
  • The Beach Street and Campground Household Waste and Recycling Centre is now closed until further notice
  • Garden Waste and Bulky Waste collections have been suspended until further notice
  • All council owned and operated public convenience are now closed until further notice

For information about cultural services and events check our See it Do it web page: https://www.seeitdoitsunderland.co.uk/news/cultural-venue-closures-sunderland-foreseeable-future

We will review the situation on a daily basis and further updates will be provided. We would like to sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused and thank you for your ongoing support and understanding.

Customer service centres

Customer service centres in Fawcett Street, Houghton and Washington are now closed.

We have a freephone number for any urgent enquiries: 0800 234 6084

The council will do everything it can to protect and support our communities. This includes measures to ensure that critical frontline services are prioritised in the event that resources become stretched as a result of the coronavirus.

Regular updates will be published on this page as well as on our social media channels. You can follow the council on Twitter: @sunderlanduk and Facebook: @sunderlandukoffical

Sunderland City Council staff

The council is putting in place measures to support council employees and minimise disruption on services. Guidance to all council staff has been issued. If you have not received this please contact your manager. 

Please find below answers to common questions about Coronavirus. If you have any further questions in the meantime please contact your manager.

Q: What should I do if I or someone I live with has coronavirus symptoms? 

If you live alone stay at home for 7 days from the start of your symptoms if you have either:

  • A high temperature
  • A new, continuous cough 

If you live with others and you or anyone who you live with have symptoms, everyone in the house must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days from the date that the first person in the household shows symptoms.

If someone in your a household then develops symptoms within this 14 day period then they need to self-isolate for a further 7 days.

Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. 

You do not need to contact 111 to tell them you're staying at home. 

Read the NHS advice about staying at home

Use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service if:

  • You feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home
  • Your condition gets worse
  • Your symptoms do not get better after 7 days 

Access the NHS 111 online coronavirus service website link at: https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19 

Only call 111 if you cannot get help online.

You can stay up to date with the latest official advice and information by visiting: www.nhs.uk/coronavirus

Q: I'm not 'unwell' but have symptoms.

If you are not unwell but have symptoms of coronavirus i.e. a new continuous cough and/or a high temperature, you need to stay at home and let your manager know as soon as possible.

If you are feeling 'well' at this stage and not reporting as sick you will receive normal full pay for the duration of the self-isolation period.

During a period of self-isolation, all options for home or remote working are to be explored.

Q: How do I report that I am sick? 

Currently, as with any case of sickness absence, if a Council employee has coronavirus, or suspected coronavirus, and is unwell, they should let their line manager know by 8.30am daily including on a weekend, even if they would not normally work on a weekend, that they're not able to work. We are currently looking to introduce new ways to report sickness absence. If you develop symptoms of COVID-19 (high temperature and/or new and continuous cough), self-isolate at home. Your manager will keep in touch with you during the period of absence. 

Q: If I am off sick will I get paid? 

The council's sick pay scheme will apply for council employees. 

Q: Do I need a fit note (sick note)? 

For coronavirus related absences the Council will not require a Fit-Note to be produced; the current self-certification procedures in place for the first 7 days of absence will be extended for the duration of any coronavirus related illness. Council employees with symptoms of coronavirus can get an isolation note from NHS 111 online, and those who live with someone that has symptoms can get a note from the NHS website.

Q: What is Self/Household Isolation?

Those with symptoms of coronavirus and living alone should remain at home for 7 days after the onset of their symptoms. This will reduce the risk of infecting others.

If you live with others and either the you or a person you live with have symptoms that may be caused by coronavirus, then household members must stay at home and not leave your house for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill.

Q: I am self-isolating in the line with the latest national advice, but I feel fit for work what should I do?

During a period of self-isolation, all options for home or remote working will be explored and supported where possible.  

Q: What do I do if I am in a vulnerable group?

Council employees who are identified as being in a vulnerable group are strongly advised to speak to their manager to discuss how they can be supported to stay at home and work from there if possible.

Q: What is social distancing?

Social distancing measures are steps you can take to reduce social interaction between people. This will help reduce the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19).

They are to:

1. Avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). These symptoms include high temperature and/or new and continuous cough.

2. Avoid non-essential use of public transport when possible.

3. Work from home, where possible.

4. Avoid large and small gatherings in public spaces, noting that pubs, restaurants, leisure centres and similar venues are currently shut as infections spread easily in closed spaces where people gather together.

5. Avoid gatherings with friends and family. Keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media.

6. Use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services.

Everyone should be trying to follow these measures as much as is practicable.

We strongly advise you to follow the above measures as much as you can and to significantly limit your face-to-face interaction with friends and family if possible, particularly if you:

  • Are over 70
  • Have an underlying health condition
  • Are pregnant

This advice is likely to be in place for some weeks.

Q: My child's school is closed, what should I do? 

There are a number of options that can be considered:

  • Council employees are in line with the Government's guidelines, identified as a Key Worker as the work carried out is deemed critical to the COVID-19 response. To support the Council's critical services; child(ren) are identified as a priority for education provision. However in line with Government guidance, if you are able to organise alternative childcare which keeps children away from school, please do so
  • If Council employees are able to work from home whilst caring for your child(ren) as they are old enough not to require constant supervision, and your role is one that can be done from home, this should be discussed with your line manager
  • If Council employees can work hours differently - for example, they may be able to work in the evening or weekends when there is someone else available to care for child(ren)

Q: I need time off work to look after someone what should I do? 

Council employees are entitled to time off work (Dependent Care Leave)  to help someone who depends on them (a 'dependent') in an unexpected event or emergency. This would apply to situations to do with coronavirus. For example, if they have children they need to look after or arrange childcare for because their school has closed, or, to help their child or another dependent if they're sick or need to go into isolation or hospital.

Q: Am I a Key Worker?

All Council staff are identified as 'critical workers' and able to access school and nursery provision. However, in line with Government guidance, if you are able to organise alternative childcare which keeps children away from school, please do so.

Q: How do I prove I am a Key Worker?

Council employees can receive a letter to confirm they are a Key Worker. A Key Worker is someone working in a critical service, which cannot be delivered from home. If you need a letter you need to speak to your manager who can provide this. Alternatively you can email HR.Administration@sunderland.gov.uk to request a letter but you must confirm that your line manager has given you permission to request a letter. You should provide an email address where the letter can be sent to as letters cannot be posted.

Q: Can everyone work from home?

All Council employees should now be at home (working from home where your role allows) unless you are in a critical role that cannot be delivered from home, in which case this should have been agreed with your line manager. Agile working might not be not practical for all staff, therefore we ask staff to employ social distancing within the workplace where this is not possible. Staff working from home may be asked to change their role to ensure that the Council continues to deliver vital services.

Q: Will I be asked to work in other areas of the Council to maintain critical areas of service delivery?

As this situation develops, we will need to consider what changes we may need to make to the roles that people carry out to ensure that we continue to deliver vital services. It is therefore increasingly important that we understand the impact on our workforce every day.

Q: If my workplace closes what will happen?

Information about workplace closures will be communicated via the Hub and Council web site. Where a workplace is closed temporarily, all options will be considered such as alternative work locations or working from home. It is important arrangements are in place to ensure staff have a way to communicate with their manager and other people they work with during the closure, such as through group messaging or email groups. Council employees will receive full pay where a workplace closes temporarily.

Q: I want to change the way I normally work what should I do?

Whilst everyone is being urged to work from home where possible, this presents some practical challenges. The Council has responsibility to ensure business continuity and service delivery. All Council staff must speak to their manager about if they want to change the way they normally work or if there is any change to their personal circumstances which affects their ability to work

Q: My work requires me to work in person with clients or members of the public. What measures should I take?

Under the Government's measures people can travel to and from work, but only where the work they do cannot be done from home. Where possible, employees must maintain a 2 metre distance from others, and washing their hands with soap and water often for at least 20 seconds (or using hand sanitiser gel if soap and water is not available).

Q: Will car parking charges still apply?

From 1 April 2020 staff car parking permit charges will temporarily be suspended. Charges will also not apply in all Council car parks.

Q: I am no longer travelling on public transport; will my travel pass still be deducted from my pay?

Yes. Any queries regarding your pass should be raised with the travel pass provider, Nexus.

Q: My children are no longer going to their child care provider, will I still have to pay my child care voucher through payroll?

You should contact your childcare voucher provider if you have any queries regarding your child care voucher payment. It is recommended that you remain in the scheme and if you do want to reduce your payment, reduce it to the minimum level. It is not recommended to leave the scheme as you may not be able to receive tax and national insurance relief if you want to re-join the scheme later. Please contact https://www.fideliti.co.uk for further advice.

Everyone is reminded to follow Public Health advice to help prevent the spread of infection and stay up to date with the latest information and advice by visiting  www.nhs.uk/coronavirus