Service changes due to coronavirus (COVID-19)

You can find out how local services in Suffolk have changed due to coronavirus (COVID-19), and how that might affect you.

Changes to Suffolk services

Last updated: 29 May 2020 (reviewed daily)

We're experiencing high demand for care services and advice, which is understandable given these uncertain times.

However, it’s important that we keep council lines free for vulnerable customers. Please only contact us regarding services where there is an urgent need to do so. Contact details are available on our Customer First contact page.

We're also making some changes to how care is being provided. This will allow us to provide the essential care that is needed in Suffolk. You can read more about these changes to care services.

Each April, Suffolk County Council carries out an annual financial assessment review for those with care packages. This year, (2020) in light of the current Coronavirus pandemic, a decision has been made to postpone the financial review until further notice.

Suffolk Virtual Care Response Service

The Suffolk Virtual Care Response Service is a free service for people who are vulnerable or isolated due to the coronavirus pandemic, and have little or no technological ability. Find out more here.

Parking using an expired Blue Badge during COVID-19 crisis

You can continue using a Blue Badge with an expiry date of 1 January 2020 onwards without receiving a penalty charge notice.

This relaxation of enforcement has been agreed by government and local authority associations and should continue initially until 30 September 2020.

Please note that this applies to local authority parking and not private car parks such as supermarkets.

Marriage and civil partnership ceremonies

The government announcement (11 May 2020) stated that it was hoped to ‘permit small wedding ceremonies no earlier than 1 June 2020’. The statement made by the Prime Minister (28 May 2020) did not mention marriage/civil partnership so for the time being we have no further information to indicate when this may be possible.

We do not know:

  • How many guests a ‘small wedding’ will include
  • The costs that will apply
  • The locations where ceremonies will be permitted
  • The content that can be included in the ceremony
  • The arrangements for ‘Notices of Marriage or Civil Partnership’ (The legal preliminaries)
  • Any other restrictions or conditions that may apply.

As we cannot be certain or give advice on any of these aspects until we receive more information and instruction from the government we are not taking any provisional bookings for ceremonies based on this preliminary government announcement.

We appreciate this uncertainty makes planning difficult and we are very sorry for all couples that are impacted by this situation.

We are:

  • not accepting any new bookings for any dates in 2020
  • accepting new bookings for 2021 onwards

Re-scheduling ceremonies before and after 31 August 2020

Before 31 August 2020

If your ceremony falls during this timeframe, please contact us at your convenience to discuss alternative dates or to arrange a refund. Our usual admin fee for making changes to bookings will not apply.

Our phone lines are likely to be very busy so we would encourage you to make your enquiry by email.

After 31 August 2020

The government announcement (11 May 2020) indicated that the hospitality industry may be able to resume some of its services from July onwards.

Whilst we wait for more government guidance, changes made to ceremonies from this date will be subject to our usual terms and conditions.


Notices of marriage/civil partnership

Government restrictions prevent us from carrying out appointments for new notices of marriage or civil partnership at this time.

If you have already prepared a notice of Marriage or partnership for a forthcoming ceremony you may be aware this document is a statutory document which is valid for 12 months from the date it is issued. We do not have the power locally to extend the validity of Notices beyond this 12 month timeframe.

At the present time the government has not indicated that it intends to relax the regulations in relation to Notices so this may mean that if your ceremony date changes, your existing notice of marriage may expire. If this is the case you will need to prepare a fresh notice in person when the lockdown ends.

The Suffolk Coroner’s Service is closely monitoring central government advice, and considering any impact COVID-19 might have on the Coroner’s court.

The Ministry of Justice may take the view that all courts should cease hearing cases. If this is the situation, then we will endeavour to contact those involved as soon as is operationally possible and look to reschedule for a future date. However this may not be for six to nine months.

At this time our focus as a service is to prioritise the new referrals to the Coroner. This is in order to enable funerals to be held at the earliest opportunity. We politely request your understanding and patience during this challenging time.

All Suffolk County Council offices are closed until further notice.

How to contact us

Visit our contact us page to find services including:

  • Customer Service (Suffolk Highways)
  • Customer First (Adult Social Care and Children's Social Care)
  • School Admissions
  • Suffolk Trading Standards

All courses are currently suspended.

Further information can be found at suffolkroadsafe.com.

Food banks across Suffolk are being given a share of £60,000 to keep their supplies well stocked during the Coronavirus pandemic.

This money has been donated by Suffolk County Council and will allow the food banks to restock directly with the supermarkets and wholesalers.

Who is getting the funding?

The funding will be added to the Suffolk Emergency response fund held by Suffolk Community Foundation. Suffolk Community Foundation are working with all partners in Suffolk to maximise the amount of funding made available by central government, Health and District and Borough Councils to support the COVID-19 community response.

How has that been decided?

The Collaborative Communities Board is working with the voluntary sector and the network of food banks across Suffolk and ensuring they have access to funds as needed for the direct provision of food and supplies for vulnerable people in Suffolk.

When are they getting it?

Small amounts of funding will be allocated as requested by food banks and other organisations involved in the individual relief of hardship.

Where is the funding coming from?

From Suffolk County Council’s leadership group. Read about the share of £60,000 being donated.

All library buildings are closed

Mobile and home library services are also suspended.

Visit suffolklibraries.co.uk/coronavirus for more information.

The Children and Young People’s Emotional Wellbeing Hub provides a helpline and referral service for those concerned about the mental health of a child or young person aged 0-25.

Due to the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) and significant reduced staff, the Emotional Wellbeing Hub will deliver a duty service. The duty service will provide support, advice and onward referral to service users in East and West Suffolk who are at greatest risk.

If you or your child feel you are in urgent need of mental health support, please contact our helpline on 0345 600 2090. Please be aware that it may take longer for us to reach your call or referral.

We apologise for any inconvenience, and we hope that the Emotional Wellbeing Hub will be able to return to a full service provision of staff as soon as possible. We appreciate your understanding during this time.

If you live in Lowestoft and Waveney, you should contact the Point-1 Service for mental health support.

A helpline has been launched to help parents if their usual school is:

  • not open
  • unable to make alternate arrangements for pupils.

The helpline is for parents who are classed as a key worker or have a child that is classed as vulnerable. Suffolk County Council will liaise with schools to find them a place.

The helpline number is: 01473 263985.

Download statement of community involvement (PDF, 202KB) - temporary changes. In respect of publicity of planning policy documents and planning applications during COVID-19 pandemic.

Find further information on submitting a planning application.

Public transport is to operate on a reduced scale throughout Suffolk. New timetables are in place for most public transport services, including buses, trains and community transport until further notice.

The changes reflect less people are not using public transport by staying at home. There's also less staff available as more need to self isolate. Visit suffolkonboard.com for more information.

Phased re-opening of Recycling Centres

Recycling Centres in Suffolk have re-opened following closure due to coronavirus (COVID-19).

You need to book a time slot online to visit your local Recycling Centre as part of this phased re-opening.

Find out more about booking a Recycling Centre time slot

Death registrations

The Coronavirus Act (2020) permits us to complete a pre-registration of a death by phone and avoids relatives visiting a register office.

Find out more about how to register a death.

Birth registrations

Birth registrations have been deferred by the government for the duration of the pandemic period.

We have been advised that parents can now make a claim for child benefit or universal credit without registering the birth.

You can visit the following links for more information: 

Our offices

All register offices are closed to the public for the time being.

Our phone lines are open, but with a restricted service. This means you may experience a delay when you contact us.

Alternatively you may email us.

Find out how to phone or email register offices in Suffolk

School Crossing Patrols is suspended in the interest of their safety, and the safety of others.

We will consider a request from schools for assistance in getting children of key workers to school safely, if they deem necessary. For further visit suffolkroadsafe.com on follow on Twitter @suffolkroadsafe

In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, changes have been made to the delivery of core sexual and reproductive health services in Suffolk.

Some services will be temporarily suspended as our staff work to support the wider Coronavirus (COVID-19) response.

Urgent information will be communicated through the Suffolk Sexual Health Network distribution list. To receive these updates, contact Matthew.Bury@suffolk.gov.uk or telephone 01473 260942.

iCaSH (integrated Contraception and Sexual Health)

iCaSH is asking all service users to stay at home and not visit the service if they display symptoms of the coronavirus. You should follow Government guidance on staying at home if you display symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) infection.

The three iCaSH sexual health hubs in Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds and Lowestoft remain open, but only for specific visits. They have changed the way they are operating:

  • suspension of sit and wait clinics
  • offering telephone consultations (with follow up face to face appointments where clinically appropriate) for the following service users:
    • those receiving/requiring PEP
      (a treatment for 28 days to prevent HIV infection after risky sex)
    • those who need emergency contraception
    • those who have symptoms of an STI
    • telephone consultations for people living with HIV aged over 70 (including agreeing arrangements for delivery of medication)
    • access to screening and testing for sexually transmitted infections
      • please use the Express Test home testing kit which can be ordered online, if you have no symptoms of an STI

People who are HIV positive

There is currently no evidence that people living with HIV are at any greater risk than the general public of either getting coronavirus or becoming unwell due to coronavirus. You do not need to attend the clinic for additional blood tests to check your CD4 count. Please follow the NHS guidance about how best to protect yourselves and others from coronavirus.

Please be reassured that maintaining a seamless supply of anti-retroviral medication to you will be prioritised even if you are unable to attend the clinic.

We will update this advice if Public Health guidance changes.

Terrence Higgins Trust service

The Suffolk THT office will be closed until further notice.

  • Chlamydia and gonorrhoea samples are still being tested and results will still be sent out as normal. Patients who have not received their results after two weeks of sending their sample are advised to email suffolkchlamydia@tht.org.uk for their results
  • Chlamydia testing kits should be ordered at www.youngandfree.org.uk
  • For professionals attempting to order c-card supplies, orders will not be processed until staff are permitted to work from the office again. When the office re-opens, a further communication will be circulated
  • All training sessions run by THT Suffolk for the next two months have been cancelled, this includes in house training. Delegates signed up to multi-agency training (Eventbrite or Suffolk CPD) will be emailed separately. The health promotion specialist for your area will be in touch soon if you have in house training organised.
  • All sessional shifts have been cancelled until further notice

Pharmacy provision of sexual and reproductive health services

In order to deal with increased demand for medical supplies, pharmacies may reduce their opening hours. Many will be open 10am to 12pm / 2pm to 4pm (or 6pm for the late opening 100 hour pharmacies).

Before visiting for sexual health services, patients are advised to call the pharmacy first. Find your nearest pharmacy on the NHS website.

Online HIV self-sampling service position

The online HIV self-sampling service will continue to be available to residents of Suffolk over the age of 16. SH:24 will remain committed to maintaining quick turn around times for the delivery and processing of testing kits, however external factors may make it difficult to achieve this 100% of the time. Testing kits can be accessed online.

The Ferns (sexual assault referral centre – SARC)

The Ferns are working to ensure they are able to continue to support both new and existing service users:

  • The 0300 123 5058 helpline will continue to be manned as normal
  • Assessment of clients will take place virtually, prior to attending any examination
  • Independent Sexual Violence Advisers (ISVA) will continue to support individuals via telephone, email, Skype and Zoom.

The Archaeological Service’s offices are closed to visitors due to coronavirus (COVID-19).

Read more about Suffolk Archaeological Service.

All branches of Suffolk Archives (Bury St Edmunds, Ipswich and Lowestoft) are closed until further notice.

We'll endeavour to maintain a telephone and email enquiry service during the closure period. This will be kept under review and may be subject to change. Wherever possible staff will continue to work daily at home.

During the closure, users can still browse the website and search the catalogue, as well as purchase and download digital images. Subject to staff being based in branch, it may also be possible to order copies online.

Visit www.suffolkarchives.co.uk/using-the-website for more information.

Suffolk Archive events

All Suffolk Archives events planned up until 30 June 2020 are cancelled or postponed. This includes the summer programme of talks and workshops at Bury Archives, which was scheduled to run until mid-July.

We will be contacting anyone who has an existing booking. Dates and details for all Suffolk Archives events will be kept under constant review.

The Hold, Ipswich

At present construction work is continuing at The Hold but this is subject to daily review. Preparations for the move are on going. Plans for the opening of the building are under discussion and more information will be provided when available.

We are sorry for any inconvenience caused by the above changes.

We have made these difficult decisions with the health and well-being of all archives users, staff and volunteers in mind. We will keep the situation under constant review and provide updates as soon as is appropriate and possible.

We're monitoring the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation so that we can keep our staff safe and continue to protect our communities. 

We'll continue to respond to emergency 999 calls.

We have stopped some work to minimise risks, including:

  • cancelling some home visits
  • cancelling some firefighter training
  • closing stations to community meetings and events

But we are adapting our operations to continue to protect the most vulnerable members of society. We continue to follow:

  • government guidelines
  • operational guidelines set out by the National Fire Chiefs Council
  • our own business continuity plan

You can read further updates relating to COVID-19 on the Suffolk Fire and Rescue pages.

Read:

The fitting of Trucall devices into people's homes has been suspended and some businesses have already cancelled routine inspections. The work done by our Imports Team at the Port of Felixstowe is essential and has been prioritised.

Appropriate procedures and measures are in place to enable officers to safely carry out physical exams of consignments to prevent dangerous and unsafe items entering the UK market.