Residents in Richmond will receive updates about coronavirus and local services from their council through Twitter videos and e-newsletters.

The news came after the government issued new guidance yesterday (March 16) which encouraged ‘social distancing’ to slow the spread of the virus.

For most people, this involves working from home where possible and avoiding pubs and restaurants.

Vulnerable groups and those aged 70 and over are advised to limit their contact even further.

In response to the new measures, council leader Gareth Roberts took part in a video that was posted on the council’s Twitter page.

In it he said: “These are not measures which are being taken lightly, they are being driven by the evidence. We have been given no instructions at this time to close our schools, nor have we been asked to quarantine our care homes, however, if you are wanting to visit residents in those care homes it is best to check in advance so that you know what the precautions you need to take are.”

He added that the council is liaising with community groups to find out what help they need, and reiterated that residents should not buy more than they need.

A spokesperson said Richmond council will aim to do one of these kinds of videos each day to keep residents informed.

From today (March 17) the council will also start sending out a resident e-newsletter.

Richmond Council’s interim director of public health, Shannon Katiyo, also posted an update to residents.

He said: “We are working with the government, the NHS and Public Health England and other partners to do all that we can to keep families and communities in Richmond upon Thames safe. We urge everyone to keep up to date on the latest information which outlines what you should do now.

“While I understand that you will be worried, it is important to remember that each of us can make a difference and play our part.

“Following yesterday’s update (March 16) we are stepping up our  business continuity plans, with a focus on ensuring we can deliver the most essential services to residents most in need, while at the same time working to support the well-being of our staff so that we have enough resources to be able to do this.

“Today we are considering arrangements for staff who provide front-line services and we are continuing to review our contingency plans to ensure they are robust so that council decision-making processes can continue. We also continue to work with care homes and care providers across the borough to keep the most vulnerable residents as safe as possible.

“What we ask of you now is that you follow the updated government guidance. If you are showing symptoms – please stay home for seven days. If you live with someone, please stay home for fourteen days. Do not take unnecessary risks and take note of new advice on social distancing.

“As the leader referenced in his latest video update, we are working with local voluntary sector organisations to understand what support they need to help our most vulnerable residents. We will need your help, and we will let you know the best way to provide it.”

He also issued some advice for residents to look after their mental health, as the continuous news updates can make some people feel anxious or distressed.

He suggested:

Avoid watching, reading or listening to news that causes you to feel anxious or distressed

Seek information mainly to take practical steps to prepare your plans and protect yourself and loved ones or seek information updates at specific times during the day

Find opportunities to amplify the voices, positive stories and positive images of local people who have experienced the new coronavirus (COVID-19) and have recovered or who have supported a loved one through recovery

Honour health and care staff who are working hard to support people affected with COVID-19 in your community