A statement issued last night by Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, leader of Bradford Council:

“Every day I brief councillors about the epidemic, numbering the reports day by day. So looking at today’s report I know that it is 17 days since coronavirus started to disrupt our lives and dominate the news. In truth it feels much longer but we are all getting used to a new way of living.

"Staying at home is necessary in order to stop the virus spreading, but there are key workers, such as nurses, food shop workers, teachers and many more who are keeping going for the sake of all of us.

"People across Bradford district have shown their appreciation for those workers. ‘Clap for our Carers’ has been hugely moving and demonstrates the affection people have for health workers in particular. Council staff are also getting plaudits – we’ve had children writing thank you notes to the refuse collectors this week, it’s become quite a trend and it’s a gesture they have appreciated.

"The council is a 7-day operation with decision-making meetings now taking place every day of the week.

"Council staff who usually work in services that are now closed are volunteering to be redeployed to the frontline effort. So people you might normally see working in your leisure centre are now more likely to be collecting your bins. A huge thank you to them for going above and beyond.

"Regrettably, we’ve had to keep taking difficult decisions about council services. Tragically we’ve had to limit burials to ten mourners and soon will not be able to allow mourners to attend services at crematoria. This decision weighs heavily upon us and we will work to support bereaved families with a memorial service when the epidemic is over. I realise however that this cannot completely make up for the pain people will feel.

"These are inevitably sombre times but these are also times when you see people doing amazing things. In ‘normal’ times I often challenge organisations in the district to be brilliant. There’s never been a better time to see that brilliance shining through.

"I learned yesterday about council staff, working with our most vulnerable children, who have moved out of their family homes to isolate themselves so they can keep supporting a child in their care. That sort of dedication is something we should all be very proud of.

"It’s not just in the caring occupations where people are going that extra mile. Finance teams don’t get much recognition but ours have managed to get over £20 million of government grant out this week to struggling small businesses. There’s another £115 million to distribute and that support will be vital to making sure that our economy sustains itself during and beyond this crisis. When we get through this time, people will still need jobs, services and supplies. It’s the finance team who are working to make that happen.

"In our communities many more people are going beyond the call of duty. Our voluntary and community organisations are working wonders on the ground supported by an army of volunteers. Just a few weeks ago the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge came to see for themselves how the district has earned a reputation and international accolades as a place where people of all backgrounds are welcomed and made to feel at home and invited to contribute to the wider community. They were bowled over by what they saw and that community spirit and readiness to help each other out is the bedrock of our response and resilience in this emergency.

"Thousands of local people have answered the call for volunteers to help the NHS. The council’s own recruitment drive alone has recruited 2,000 volunteers and we are working with health services to deploy them. I want to thank all of the community centres, councillors and volunteers who are helping. But if you are someone who needs help rather than being able to give it at this time, then please ring 01274 431000. We all need a bit of help at some point and now might be your turn.

"The most important thing we can all do is to stay at home. We are blessed with fantastic open spaces and award-winning parks. It’s not surprising that in nice weather people want to enjoy them. But the more we come into contact with others the more coronavirus will spread, the more pressure there will be on the NHS and the more lives will be lost. So please, Stay at Home, protect the NHS and save lives. We will get through this and have our days in the sun once more."