Published: 23 Sep 20
Another significant week, with a range of significant national announcements. Yesterday’s announcement at a glance:
• Not a return to full lockdown in March
• No general instruction to stay at home
• Schools, education and universities stay open and businesses that are COVID safe continue
• Office workers to work from home where possible and where not possible, people attend to work in COVID secure way
• From Thursday – pubs, bars, restaurants will be table service only and must close at 10pm
• Face coverings mandatory for staff in retail, all passengers in taxis, staff and customers in hospitality except when eating
• More of the rules are legal obligations, with fines for breaches
• From Monday – only 15 people can attend weddings, with only 30 able to attend funerals
• The rule of six applies to all indoor adult team sports activity from Monday
• Pilot sports event with fans are delayed
• Advice for those previously shielded is to follow advice from senior clinicians, with no national expectation to shield other than in local lockdown areas
• Regular review of the R rate, with additional measures possible if it doesn’t reduce
• Emphasis on it being everyone’s responsibility – hands, face, space – and that these restrictions could well be in place for 6 months
This followed the briefing earlier in the week by the Chief Scientific Adviser and the Chief Medical Officer setting out the current position with very stark information about possible rate increases and impact on the NHS and deaths. The Covid alert level has been upgraded for the UK to level 4 signifying an "epidemic is in general circulation; transmission is high or rising exponentially".
We will be in touch with staff and managers as soon as possible about the implications of these announcements for council employees, and engage with TU colleagues in the usual way.
Local rates and messages:
Our latest local rates are 88.3 per 100,000 (yesterday 87.2 per 100,000) and 7 day positivity 8.0% (yesterday 8.2)
The important advice we want to continue to push is:
- Keep a safe distance wherever you can
- Wash your hands regularly and for 20 seconds
- Cover your face in enclosed spaces
- Stick to the new national “rule of six” and try to limit contact wherever possible
- Isolate when you need to/are advised to
Finally, an important update about our local work-around testing solution
As you know we have had testing available at the Mandela Centre for key workers and primary children. Because the national issues continue, demand has been high and it has created backlogs that we are dealing with. We are also trying to find a more effective local work-around given the demand, but you will appreciate that it is not easy to get this up and running.
The testing site at the Mandela Centre will be closed today (Wednesday) and we will be in touch later today with details an alternative work-around solution from Thursday to the end October (we hope). We apologise for any inconvenience caused, the advice remains to try the national system and keep trying if you have Covid symptoms.
Advice to schools
We are also aware of the confusion being caused with some of the advice of the new national DfE helpline for schools and we have also had a report of contradictory advice from NHS111 as well. Sal is in touch with school leaders to ensure that they know where to get reliable and consistent advice from local teams (PH and Schools H&S teams).
Thank you for your continued work, we will update you again later in the week as we continue our dialogue with government about the watchlist and implications for additional restrictions.