Don’t be spooked, you can still enjoy Halloween

While some Halloween activities will have to be paused this year, there are ways you and your family can enjoy spooky fun while staying safe from exposure to COVID-19.

Six spooktacular low risk activities:
  • Carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household and displaying them in your window or outside
  • Getting the Bake Off vibe and gather the household around to make ghoulish and tasty Halloween cakes and biscuits
  • Celebrating with a household movie night with the people you live with and dress as your favourite characters
  • Taking part in a ‘spot the pumpkin’ trail, where people display pumpkin or Halloween pictures in their windows and you have to try and find them all with your family (a good walk around the neighbourhood remembering to socially distance)
  • Organising a Halloween scavenger hunt by hiding Halloween treats (and tricks) in and around your home for your children to find
  • Having a virtual Halloween costume competition using a video chat app
Higher risk activities to avoid this Halloween:
  • Traditional trick-or-treating, where sweets are handed to children who go door to door
  • Attending a party where there are more than six people from different households
  • Going to any event where people may be crowded together and screaming

Councillor Barry Nash, Chairman Community & Wellbeing Committee, said: “This year, we need all the fun we can get. Many of the Halloween traditions we have adopted over the last few years, such as trick or treating, carry a risk. The challenge is how to still have fun but to have it safely and consider how to make fun, Covid safe”.

If you are pumpkin carving, be careful to avoid pumpkin carving injuries. Children can draw a face with markers and then an adult can do the cutting. Consider putting a battery-operated light rather than an open-flame candle inside your carved masterpiece.


Pods provide peace and quiet for Epsom and St Helier staff

Hardworking staff at Epsom and St Helier can now make the most of their breaks or find a moment of relaxation after a busy shift, thanks to a generous loan of two sleep pods.

The two space-age looking pods are designed specifically for twenty-minute power naps, and come complete with a hooded privacy visor and the option to play pre-programmed music or a relaxation guide. This means valued NHS staff are able to rejuvenate their minds and body in the break of a busy shift, or before heading home after clocking off for the day.

Chief Executive Daniel Elkeles said: “Team ESTH always work hard to provide the best care to our patients, but the effort and determination they have shown through COVID-19 has been phenomenal. If anyone deserves to put their feet up for 20 minutes and make the most of a lunch break, it’s our staff!

“Evidence shows that for most people, a short 15 to 20-minute nap can help to reduce the impact of tiredness on people’s ability to function and can improve performance. But more importantly than that, being able to take a moment to relax and recuperate will be a real boost for the health and wellbeing of our staff, which in turn, has a positive effect on patient care and experience”.

Dr Shakil Rahman, Lead Respiratory Consultant at the Trust, has been at the very forefront of the Trust’s response to COVID-19, leading the team who cared for some of the sickest COVID-19 patients. He said: ‘I’ve tried the sleep pod and I can’t believe – even for a poor sleeper like me – how refreshed I feel. I will definitely be using it again and encouraging everyone to try some power naps, especially the junior doctors who work and study incredibly hard. I’ve been so proud of how the respiratory team and all my ESTH colleagues have faced the immense challenges of this pandemic, and I truly think their health and wellbeing has never been so important.”

The sleep pods have kindly been loaned to Epsom and St Helier Hospitals Charity by the company Restworks for a free two-month trial but – if the feedback from staff continues to be positive the charity could look to purchase them on a long-term basis. The Charity always welcome support from local people and businesses – if you would like to make a donation to this or any other project, please contact the team by email at [email protected] or call 01372 735262.

For more information about Epsom and St Helier Hospitals Charity (registered charity number 1049197) visit

Advice on offer for licenced premises

Epsom & Ewell Borough Council are offering licenced businesses throughout the borough specialist advice to help them stay on top of rapidly changing coronavirus regulations.

Keeping staff and customers safe from the spread of the coronavirus should be at the top of every business owners’ mind.  As the winter approaches and regulations change on an increasingly frequent basis, it can be difficult to keep pace while running a business at the same time.

Specialist Environmental Health and Licencing teams from the borough council are on hand to help businesses open safely and ensure that all appropriate controls are in place for customers.

Councillor Neil Dallen, Chairman of the Environment and Safe Communities Committee, said:

“We are committed to reducing the harm of the coronavirus pandemic, and everyone has a significant role to play.

“As one part of our role, we are proactively helping licenced premises stay on the right side of rapidly written legislation.

“We recognise that this is an exceptionally difficult time for businesses who are doing their best in a difficult situation.  By being proactive, we’re hoping to support our licenced premises to remain open, in line with the law and safety measures, without needing to use our enforcement powers.”

In addition to acting in an advisory capacity, the council are also ready to act on any concerns raised by residents to ensure that all appropriate safety measures are being adhered to. 

The current advice for business owners is available on the Government’s website: .  Epsom & Ewell Borough Council also have a dedicated page on their website summarising the latest information for businesses:  

Everyone should also make sure that they abide by the Government’s latest advice to keep themselves and others safe.  This advice can be found online ( and is currently summarised as:

  • Hands – keep washing your hands regularly
  • Face – wear a face covering in enclosed spaces
  • Space – stay at least 2 metres apart, or 1 metre with a face covering or other precautions.

A weekend of reflective celebration and commemoration

This weekend, as the NHS turns 72 years old, Epsom and St Helier will be marking a moment of commemoration and reflective celebration.  

On Saturday 4 July at 8pm, a minute’s silence will be held outside Epsom and St Helier hospitals, and a candle illuminated for every life sadly lost to COVID-19 at the Trust. Subject to social distancing rules, staff and members of the public are welcome to gather at the entrance to St Helier Hospital and the green opposite, and at the SWLEOC entrance of Epsom Hospital, to mark this occasion with us. 

Shortly afterwards, as the sun goes down, our acute hospital buildings will be lit up in NHS blue to celebrate the NHS turning 72 years old – a year unlike any other in the health service’s history.

Chief Executive Daniel Elkeles said: “As the NHS turns 72, there is just so much to be proud of and to reflect on – it almost goes without saying that this has been an incredibly challenging time for the NHS and our amazing staff have gone above and beyond to care for patients and protect our communities. And that’s exactly why we are holding this dual event – while we think it’s important to celebrate our fantastic health service and the staff who power it, we cannot do so at this time without paying tribute to those who have sadly died during this pandemic, and the local families affected by the crisis.

“Our staff have battled to provide life-saving care to COVID-19 patients, and I am pleased that large numbers of our patients have overcome the worst of the virus, but we cannot forget the impact it has had. If you would like to, please join us just before 8pm on Saturday and feel free to bring an LED candle should you wish to pay tribute to a loved one.”  

The cost of lighting the hospitals will be paid for by the Trust’s dedicated charity Epsom and St Helier Hospitals Charity (1049197). To find out more about the charity visit: and to make a donation online to our ‘thank you’ appeal, visit:

Coronavirus-Related Scams – How To Protect Yourself

Criminals are exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic to try and get their hands on your money and personal information. To date, Action Fraud has received reports from 2,378 victims of Coronavirus-related scams, with the total losses reaching over £7 million.

How you can protect yourself from Coronavirus-related scams:

There are some simple steps you can take that will protect you from the most common Coronavirus-related scams. Here’s what need to do

1 – Watch out for scam messages

Your bank, or other official organisations, won’t ask you to share personal information over email or text. If you receive an email you’re not quite sure about, forward it to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service (SERS): [email protected]

2 – Shopping online

If you’re making a purchase from a company or person you don’t know and trust, carry out some research first, for example, by checking to see if others have used the site and what their experience was. If you decide to go ahead with the purchase, use a credit card if you have one, other payment providers may not provide the same protection.

3 – Unsolicited calls and browser pop-ups offering tech support

Never install any software, or grant remote access to your computer, as a result of a cold call. Remember, legitimate organisations would never contact you out of the blue to ask for financial details such as your PIN or full banking password.

NHS Test and Trace scams:

The NHS Test and Trace service plays an important role in the fight against coronavirus and it’s vital the public have confidence and trust in the service. However, we understand the concerns people have about the opportunity for criminals to commit scams.

What you need to know:

Contact tracers will only call you from the number 0300 013 5000. Anyone who does not wish to talk over the phone can request the NHS Test and Trace service to send an email or text instead, inviting them to log into the web-based service.

All text or emails sent by NHS Test and Trace will ask people to sign into the contact tracing website and will provide you with a unique reference number. We would advise people to type the web address directly into their browser, followed by the unique reference number given to you, rather than clicking on any link provided in the message.

The NHS Test and Trace service will never:

  • ask you to dial a premium rate number to speak to them (for example, those starting 09 or 087)
  • ask you to make any form of payment or purchase a product or any kind
  • ask for any details about your bank account
  • ask for your social media identities or login details, or those of your contacts
  • ask you for any passwords or PINs, or ask you to set up any passwords or PINs over the phone  
  • ask you to download any software to your PC or ask you to hand over control of your PC, smartphone or tablet to anyone else
  • ask you to access any website that does not belong to the government or NHS

If you think you have been a victim of fraud, please report it to Action Fraud at or by calling 0300 123 2040. If you live in Scotland, please report directly to Police Scotland by calling 101.​​​​​​​

Preparing for opening time!

Epsom & Ewell Borough Council’s environmental health and licensing teams are supporting restaurants, pubs and bars to get their businesses back up and running. Latest government guidance suggests that this vital business sector may be able to reopen in early July.

During the lockdown, environmental health officers have been in contact with 80 of the borough’s registered food businesses. They have been providing food safety guidance as many of the businesses switched to providing takeaways and food deliveries. As well as adopting different hygiene practices, these businesses have had to introduce new measures to respond to the risk of the Covid-19.

Emergency food supplies – such as food parcels and meal deliveries – have also benefitted from the team’s food safety expertise. To date, council and voluntary groups have delivered over 8,000 meals and supplies to vulnerable people throughout the borough.

The licensing team has meanwhile been working remotely supporting licenced premises to ensure their various license requirements continue to be valid.  They’ve also brought an entrepreneurial mind set to help businesses find ways to take advantage of the flexibility introduced during the pandemic, enabling some of them to continue to operate in different business models.

The team has also been highlighting the various grants available for small businesses and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant administered by the council.

Councillor Neil Dallen, Chair of the Environment and Safe Communities Committee, said “Our teams have been incredibly busy throughout the lockdown, investigating an increased number of food premises complaints and dealing with food and licensing related enquiries, as well as offering support to businesses in this difficult time.

“Now, as we move towards the new normal, we are keen to support the borough’s restaurants, pubs and bars and provide advice on how they can ensure they are Covid-secure, so that they are in the best position when they are able to reopen”.

Update From Chris Grayling MP

Chris Grayling MP

Council extends helping hand to the smallest borough businesses

Epsom & Ewell Borough Council are ready to administer the government’s new Discretionary Grants Fund aimed at supporting small businesses who were not eligible for grants under the previous schemes. The application process will run until Friday 19th June 2020

Business owners will be required to apply through the council’s website:  Grants will be capped at £10,000 to ensure that the maximum number of businesses can benefit, in line with the limited amount of money available from the government. 

All applications received by the close of business on Friday 19 June 2020 will be carefully assessed against the scheme criteria which is available on the  All qualifying businesses will receive their grant as swiftly as possible after the closing date.
“Small businesses are integral to our borough’s dynamic economy,” said Councillor Eber Kington, Chairman of the Strategy and Resources Committee at Epsom & Ewell Borough Council.

“This sector has been put under immense pressure by the Covid-19 pandemic.  Our council has acted swiftly and is ready to administer the next phase of government support in the form of the Discretionary Grants.”

“I’d urge all eligible business owners to read carefully the guidance on our website, and apply before the closing date.

“We will get through this pandemic together.  And when we have, I am certain that our local economy will recover to a stronger, more resilient and dynamic position than ever before.”

The Government have published their own guidance on this CLICK HERE .  Whilst the Council will have discretion they must follow specific criteria in this guidance so this local Epsom & Ewell Borough council scheme must be read with the Government guidelines.

Latest information on COVID-19 from Chris Grayling MP

Dear constituent
I am writing with some further information about the coronavirus crisis. Some of you may be receiving one of these updates from me for the first time. I have been circulating them as widely as possible during the last few weeks. If you do not want to receive them, please use the unsubscribe link at the bottom.

Firstly, you may be aware that the new NHS track and trace system has been introduced this week. This is designed to allow the NHS to contain the virus while the lockdown is eased off in the coming days.

The explanation of how it works is here

You will also be aware that a number of changes are coming to the way things work starting on Monday. These include some children returning to school and allowing small groups of up to six people to meet outside.

For those who have raised the issue of dentistry with me, local dentists will be able to start working again on the 8th of June.

More details are here

The full guidance will appear shortly and can be found here

I have been asked what all of this means for people over the age of 70. In fact there has never been an instruction for people over the age of 70 to isolate, though if you are of this age you should take extra care. But the new rules will apply to people of all ages, who will be free to meet a small group of friends and family outside, unless they remain instructed by the NHS to shield themselves because of a serious health condition. I know this latter point is very frustrating for those affected, and I hope it will be possible to change the guidance shortly. But it is thought to protect those most at risk from the virus.For anyone in need of help via the County helpline this weekend, the opening hours have changed and it will be open from 10am-12pm. The weekday opening between 8am and 6pm remain unchanged.

The number to call is 0300 200 1008.A number of you have contacted me about garden waste collections in Reigate and Banstead. I have spoken to the Council but I am afraid that they do not expect to be able to start the regular collections before July because of staffing issues. I will let you know if I hear that this has changed.
However the Surrey recycling centres are already open for garden waste. They will also reopen on Monday for more materials, including wood, scrap metal, small electronics and white goods. The full list of what can be taken will be available from 1 June at

I have also had questions from you about a couple of other local issues.

Firstly, I have been asked what has happened to the consultation process about the future of Epsom Hospital during the crisis. The formal consultation ended in April, and the NHS published the results of the consultation a few days ago. No firm decision has been taken yet, though, and they have a lot of work to do before it can be.

I have made clear to the local NHS leadership that I do not think they should move forward until a proper assessment has been done of likely future needs in the context of the pandemic. This includes in my view a reassessment of future bed needs and in particular critical care bed needs. I would expect more to be required. They do accept that this work needs to be done.

I will keep you posted.

Secondly, I have had some contacts from people in Langley Vale about a return to the old water supply problems during the lockdown. If you live in the area and are experiencing this, please can you let me know as I am pursuing this with Thames Water.

Best wishes

Chris Grayling



Message from Chris Grayling MP for Epsom & Ewell

Dear constituent

I am writing to you with a further update on the Coronavirus crisis.


As you may have seen, testing is now to be extended to everyone in the UK over the age of 5 who develops symptoms of the virus. Key workers will still be given priority but if you feel unwell you are now able to get a test – though it will, I suspect, take a few days for the new system to bed in.

If you are unwell and want to be tested, you need to apply via the online portal on the government website. Click Here

If you do need to be tested, you can ask for a home testing kit which will be sent to you in the post, but to be honest I suspect it is quicker and easier for most people in this area to simply book a test at the local testing centre in the main car park at Chessington World of Adventures. If you go there you will be given a test kit to use in your car, and you will be asked to take a swab from the back of your throat and another from your nose. The swabs are then sealed and sent off to a lab for testing and you will receive the result by email or text within a few days.

As yet there is no date for the introduction of the other tests which tell if you have already had the virus, but I would expect those to start being used next month.

If you do have symptoms and test positive, I would advise you to let your GP practice know.

Working Safely During Coronavirus

As Britain gets back to work after the lockdown, you might want to check the guidance for employers and employees about how to handle the current challenges if you are concerned about the way social distancing is being managed in your workplace. For more details Click Here.

Likewise for anyone wanting to know more about the proposal to bring some more pupils back into schools in June, for the latest published guidance Click Here.

No final decision on whether to go ahead with this will be taken until a few days before, when it is clear what is happening to infection rates.

Food Boxes

Apologies. When I highlighted the food boxes now available from ASDA, I didn’t realise that the web address they had given me had a typo. The boxes can now be accessed through the main ASDA website.

If you are one of those who are receiving Government food boxes because you are shielding and are worried that they are about to end as the lockdown starts to ease, don’t be concerned. These will be continuing for the time being. I will let you know if I am aware that this will change. 

Country Car Parks

For those of you taking regular exercise, most car parks are now open at local beauty spots and many of the nicest walking areas are still pretty empty – as I have found in recent evenings. So it’s easy to go a little further afield than you have been.

Local Charities

In these updates I have been highlighting the work of local charities during the crisis. This time I would like to thank local Rotary Clubs for what they are doing. For example the Epsom Rotary Club has just donated a number of tablet computers for patients at Epsom Hospital so that they can keep in touch with home more easily. Thank you to them and to all the other charities doing important work at this difficult time.

Best wishes

Chris Grayling

For the full list of government guidelines and advice Click Here

How To Contact Chris:

Email: [email protected]

Constituency Office: +44 (0)1372 271 036

Address: 212 Barnett Wood Lane, Ashtead, Surrey, KT21 2DB