As you are no doubt aware, the Prime Minister has announced a second national lockdown which will start from tomorrow, Thursday, subject to the MPs vote today.
This means that from tomorrow, we will all have to stay at home other than for a few very specific reasons. I recognise how difficult this is in so many different ways; the impact on our businesses that have worked so hard already to introduce COVID safe measures, the impact of being separated from friends and loved ones and the impact particularly on the vulnerable and the isolated.
We are currently talking with Government to confirm exactly what this means in terms of what activities are still allowed, which shops or building may remain open and what support will be available to our most vulnerable residents. We will do our best in the coming days and weeks to outline the kinds of support that will be available for anyone who is struggling, whatever their circumstances. I know our local businesses in particular will find this uncertainty worrying and we are seeking to confirm the level of support that will be available as soon as we are able to.
The situation in Buckinghamshire
This is a very quick update and as soon as more information is available, I will write again with a fuller update. We do know that all leisure centres in Buckinghamshire will close during this period but our Household Recycling Centres will remain open. We will also be able to update soon on libraries – they will all close from tomorrow but we are hopeful some will then reopen next week on a ‘click and collect’ basis i.e. to pick up pre ordered books or drop off returns and to provide computer access.
For now, please be aware that locally, cases have continued to rise at a very worrying pace, especially in the former South Bucks District area.
Overall in Buckinghamshire there are now 115 cases per 100,000 people. In the former South Bucks District area the case rate now stands at 200 cases per 100,000 people, up from 161 in a matter of a few days since I last wrote to you. And very alarmingly, we are seeing a very significant increase in cases in the over 60 years now, again, especially in the South Bucks area with a case rate of 181 cases per 100,000 people in that age group. Sadly, as we all know, this will almost inevitably lead to more hospital admissions and more people becoming seriously ill from this virus.
Please act now
In light of these figures I urge everyone to limit their movements ahead of the lockdown and to take great care if you do decide to head out. Now is not the time for a final ‘hurrah’ before things close. Please make sure you strictly adhere to the hands/face/space guidance, staying at least two metres/six feet from anyone you don’t live with unless you’re in a support or childcare bubble with them.
It’s essential that if you or anyone you live with develops symptoms of coronavirus, no matter how mild, that the whole household isolates immediately and that anyone with symptoms gets a test. We have significantly increased testing capacity in Bucks now with new walk-through centres available so you should be able to book a test if you need to.
Stay safe and look after yourselves and each other,
Leader, Buckinghamshire Council