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Government publishes COVID-19 guide for rough sleeper providers

The government has published guidance for hostels or day centres providing services for rough sleepers.

The government said regularly touched objects and surfaces need to be cleaned, members of staff should be sent home if they are unwell, while if a resident of a hostel becomes unwell they should stay in their room.

The guidance added that if someone becomes unwell in a day centre and they don’t have a room in which to ‘self-isolate’, they should be kept in an area of the day centre while staff contact the local authority.

Staff residents and visitors should wash their hands for 20 seconds, more frequently, while they should catch coughs and sneezes in tissues.

Staff will be eligible for statutory sick pay when staying at home.

National homelessness charity Crisis responded to the government’s guidance by calling on emergency measures to ensure people experiencing homelessness can access self-contained accommodation with private bathrooms.

This should include assistance from national governments to secure hotel style accommodation to meet the increased need.

Crisis also called for additional financial support through the Universal Credit system to ensure people are not pushed to the brink of homelessness.

Meanwhile it said renters should be protected from evictions by temporarily suspending the use of Section 21 and Section 8 evictions.

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: “The guidance we have received to-date is inadequate. It fails to set out a plan for how people experiencing homelessness can self-isolate in this outbreak.

“We need emergency action to protect people in this very vulnerable situation – this must include testing and access to housing. Let’s not forget that the average age of death of someone who is homeless is 45, substantially lower than the general population. Given the obvious vulnerability, the only answer can be to provide housing that allows people to self-isolate.”

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