COVID-19 Update – Calais

COVID-19 Update – Calais

Refugees in Calais

  • We are concerned that if refugees catch the virus they will be particularly vulnerable due to existing poor health from living outside and exposure, the prevalence of chest infections, poor living conditions and general lack of care.
  • Due to their living conditions they may have limited ability to self-isolate.
  • We are distributing information leaflets explaining what precautions to take in Arabic, Farsi, French and English.
  • We do not have supplies of hand gel to distribute and are unable at present to buy any.  Donations would be most welcome as for people living outdoors it can be difficult to wash your hands.  Please contact clare@care4calais.org if you can help.
  • We are currently distributing multivitamins and soap at all locations.
  • We are also distributing items to keep people as warm and dry as possible, e.g. coats, jumpers, blankets, sleeping bags etc.  If you can donate to support this crucial work please go to www.care4calais.org/donate

Volunteers coming to Calais

  • Aid workers are front line staff and we need volunteers to ensure our essential services continue.
  • We are not currently aware of any cases of Coronavirus in Calais.
  • Volunteers may bring the virus to Calais.  If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, or have visited a risk zone in the last 14 days or been in contact with someone who has the virus please do not travel to Calais.
  • World Health Organisation (WHO) guidance states that restricting the movement of people may interrupt needed aid having negative effects.  They suggest it is more effective to provide prevention recommendation messages to volunteers and to collect health declarations at arrival together with volunteers contact details.  This is our approach. You will be briefed on the detailed precautions that we are now implementing on your arrival with our team.
  • We urge volunteers to take all sensible travel precautions possible.
  • For further information please see https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

UK Lock down

  • UK government guidance on staying at home(1) says that you should only leave the house for one of four reasons.  The fourth reason given is “travelling to and from work​, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home”.  We cannot provide front line direct aid to refugees without taking the aid to the refugees, and this cannot be done from home.  The work done by our front line volunteers (including travel to Calais) and logistics volunteers (getting aid to Calais) should therefore be covered by this exemption.
  • Additional comfort can be gained from the fact that government guidance on who is considered a ‘key worker’ for the purposes of maintaining education provisional(2)  includes “other front line health and social care staff including volunteers” and “charities and workers delivering key front line services”.  We believe that Care4Calais looks after the health and well-being of some of the most vulnerable people in society – undocumented migrants who are homeless – and, as such, we delivering front line services that are 100% necessary at this time of crisis.
  • This guidance also says “Key workers can continue to stay in hotels or similar where required.”(3)  This implies a recognition that key workers continue to need to travel for work purposes. In addition, in relation to non-residential institutions, community centres, youth centres and similar, they are able to operate for the purpose of hosting essential voluntary or public services, such as food banks, homeless services, and blood donation sessions.  This would tend to support the continued operations of Care4Calais’ UK hubs in order to distribute aid etc.

(1) https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/full-guidance-on-staying-at-home-and-away-from-others
(2) https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision
(3) https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/874732/230320_-_Revised_guidance_note_-_finalVF.pdf

French lock down and decree of 16 March

  • In order to travel to and within France you will need certain documents. There are three forms:
    • 1. Can be downloaded here and should be completed by you.  This is required to cross the border into France.  Please note that, as this process is new, some volunteers have experienced delays and questions at the customs desk.  Please remain calm and be firm in your answers.  It is important to say that you live in the UK and work in France. This documentation was prepared by our French lawyers and is valid for travel.
    • 2 and 3 can be downloaded here and here and should be completed by you. These two documents will be required on your first day of volunteering to travel from your accommodation to the warehouse. They must be printed out on plain paper and must be available to show to the police if you are stopped. If you have any queries please call Amy on +447526 779753
  • We have been given permission by the prefecture in Calais to continue operations to assist migrants.
  • There are a number of conditions to fulfil and care is being taken to ensure these are met.
  • With regard to accommodation we recommend either hotels or Airbnb rather than the youth hostel.
  • We have obtained legal advice that return to the UK should not be restricted as we understand that some volunteers had concerns about coming to France and not being able to return home.
  • Food stores, pharmacies, petrol stations, and tabacs remain open and buses, trains and taxis are still running(1)

Volunteers in Calais

  • Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand gel. As a minimum this should be done on arrival at the warehouse in the morning, before lunch and on return from distribution.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
  • Maintain at least 2 metres (6 ft 6″) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, please return to your lodgings immediately and seek medical attention.
  • For informal medical advice you can ring FAST on +31646260763.
  • The French medical emergency service number is 115 or in an emergency call 118 or 112.
  • Your team leader will brief you on extra precautions to take in the warehouse and on distribution.
  • For further information please see https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

(1) www.thelocal.fr/20200315/france-coronavirus-lockdownwhats-closed-and-whats-open-in-france-following-the-new-coronavirus-restrictions

 

About Care4Calais

Care4Calais was founded by a group of volunteers with the sole aim of supporting the people of the Calais refugee camps, providing fresh meals, warm clothing, heating and important legal and medical support.

We are not politicians – we are people like you who simply believe that every human has the right to be treated in a fair and dignified way.

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