|The situation in Buckinghamshire:
Cases of coronavirus are rising across the UK as a whole, and that’s what’s beginning to happen here in Buckinghamshire too. However, I do want to stress that at the moment, we are still in a better position here than in some other parts of the country.
The infection rate can vary from week to week and we have seen the number of weekly cases in Buckinghamshire increase from 8.5 to 12.7 per 100,000 people in the space of a fortnight. The very latest figures for Buckinghamshire suggest the rates have risen even further in recent days, to about 14.4 cases per 100,000 people. So although there have been recent reports in the newspapers saying the Buckinghamshire rates have dropped, the overall trend is that in fact, cases are increasing here.
Whilst we have fewer new cases than in other places, we cannot afford to be complacent, especially at this crucial time in the pandemic in the UK. The threat from coronavirus remains very real, with some areas close to Buckinghamshire experiencing significant outbreaks.
You can see the latest data on Buckinghamshire cases on our website.
The rule of six:
It is now against the law in England to meet socially in a group of more than six people from different households. This applies both inside and outside your house, and this new law will be enforced by the police. There are some exemptions to this, such as children’s playgroups, some organised sports and events like weddings and funerals. If you attend clubs such as a sewing club or similar, you must gather in groups of six and not allow the groups to mingle, also social distancing at all times from anyone you don’t live with.
The full list of exemptions and all the detail you need about the rule of six is here on the government’s website. Please do follow this rule which has been introduced to try to curb the increase in cases.
The new NHS COVID-19 app will launch on Thursday 24 September. Downloading this app means you’ll be able to tell if you’ve been in close contact with any other user who’s tested positive for coronavirus. You will also be able to report symptoms, book a test and use the app to book into venues you visit, like pubs and restaurants, using a QR code.
Importantly, you can use the app anonymously. Nobody, including the government, will know who, or where, a particular user is. The app is designed to track the virus, not the user.
I really hope this app will significantly strengthen our ability to fight the virus; the more people who use it, the more it will help us all. Using this app will help reduce your personal risk, by alerting you early to cases near you, and it will help reduce the overall risk to the public by helping to track the virus more easily. It will also help you assess any symptoms you have to identify whether you need to book a test.
You can find out more about the app at: www.covid19.nhs.uk
In Buckinghamshire, our recent localised outbreaks have been amongst groups of young people, so I would like to especially appeal to people of this age and their parents. I’m proud that our younger population in Buckinghamshire is mature and responsible but there is a minority who have not followed the social distancing guidance, and I really want to appeal to you to act responsibly and to follow the rules.
Please, stick to the rule of six and maintain social distancing if you’re meeting up with friends. It puts us all at risk if you don’t, and whilst most young people don’t suffer with the illness as much as others, if the virus is spread into the older community then we will see our more vulnerable residents being put at risk. Please do your bit and help protect yourselves and others.
When to book a test:
Please only try to book a coronavirus test if you have any of the main symptoms of the illness. These are: a new continuous cough, a fever or a change in your sense of taste and/or smell.
The booking system is run nationally by the Department of Health and Social Care and we know that there have been recent problems with reports of people being sent long distances for their test. This is largely due to lack of sufficient capacity at laboratories to process the results of the tests. If you need to book a test and are sent to a location not easily reached, or find no tests are available, then please wait and then try again.
We do have a number of testing units in Buckinghamshire this week. In Aylesbury at the start of the week, Buckingham at the end of the week and High Wycombe throughout. It’s best to book a test as soon as you get symptoms and you will either be sent a home testing kit or directed to the nearest available site at the time. All tests must be pre-booked and you cannot just drop into a testing site – this includes what was previously a walk-in centre in Slough, which is now booking only.
To book a test, go to the NHS website or call 119. From Thursday 24 September you will be able to book a test via the new NHS COVID-19 app.
What to do if you have coronavirus symptoms:
If you or anyone you live with develops coronavirus symptoms, you must immediately self-isolate the household and book a test as soon as possible for anyone with symptoms. This means staying at home and not letting anyone else come to your house. You should try to organise shopping deliveries for the period you’re isolating. It means you mustn’t send your children to school. Please do not send your child to school if they have any symptoms of coronavirus or are awaiting test results.
If the person or people in the household who had symptoms get a negative result, you can all resume activities as usual, within the current guidelines. The whole household has to stay isolated if anyone tests positive or is still waiting for their result. I really hope this clarifies precisely what we are all supposed to do, should we get any coronavirus symptoms.
Update from Martin Tett, Leader of Buckinghamshire Council July 23rd
It has been quite a couple of weeks with a lot of announcements from central government. Probably the most significant is that from this Friday, the 24th, it will be a legal requirement to wear a face mask/covering when we go into shops or supermarkets or travel on public transport. Judging from my own experience of shopping in Aylesbury, Amersham and High Wycombe recently, this will mean a change for many shoppers. Nevertheless, we must all do our best to keep each other safe.
However, young children under 11 years old and some adults are exempt from the new rules, for example, if you have a physical or mental illness, disability or impairment. Also, if you are with someone who relies on lip-reading to communicate.
Reopening of leisure centres
Following the government’s announcement that gyms and leisure centres in England can prepare to reopen from Saturday 25 July, I’m pleased to announce that we’re working in partnership with our leisure centre operators to reopen our centres for the public.
Most of our leisure facilities will reopen but there will be changes to how people can access the centres and use the facilities to ensure safety and accessibility. Please be aware that the Chesham and Chalfont centres will remain closed for a few months to enable a £4m programme of investment to improve the facilities to take place.
Please bear with us during these preparations and we’ll provide more information as soon as it’s available.
Disposal of PPE
Many people are already using Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) masks when out and about. However, from Friday, when it becomes necessary to wear masks when shopping, we’re asking everyone to take care to dispose of used masks responsibly. Already it’s disappointing to see masks left on pavements and at the side of the road. Please take used masks home with you and, since masks are not recyclable, put them in your normal rubbish bins – not the recycling bins.
I want to update all our residents who’ve been shielding for the last few months. We’re continuing to offer help and support to all of you as you prepare to adjust to the changes to the national shielding programme – which will pause on Friday 31 July.
Anyone who’s been shielding can already meet other people outdoors in groups of up to six. You also no longer need to socially distance from people you live with. From Saturday 1 August, you’ll be able to return to work and visit the shops, although you must carry on taking care to minimise contact with people you don’t live with and maintain strict social distancing.
If you’re worried about the food parcels ending and are not sure how you will manage – or if you have any other concerns about returning to a more normal lifestyle on 1 August – please contact us on 01296 395 000 or fill in this form requesting support.
You can read in detail all the latest advice from the government by clicking this link. It also contains guides in various languages so you may find it helpful to pass on this information if you know someone in your community who might need it.
British Grand Prix races at Silverstone
This year’s British Grand Prix event will consist of two races over consecutive weekends (31 July – 2 August and 7 – 9 August) and will be held behind closed doors with strict controls in place as a result of coronavirus.
Although the races will take place behind closed doors, there will still need to be local road and footpath restrictions to ensure safety and control access to the circuit. We have been working with Silverstone to implement the local measures needed. These include:
Parking restrictions and enforcement in the vicinity (including Dadford Road) to prevent unauthorised parking, with coning as per previous F1 Grand Prix.
Closure of certain roads to non-residents and non-race personnel to prevent non-event traffic from accessing the venue.
Managed access for local residents only on public footpaths and bridleways in the immediate vicinity of the circuit.
Increased police presence in the area.
Use of Highways England signage on approach roads to warn travellers that the venue and local area are closed.
Enhanced physical screening and security measures around the boundary to prevent people from viewing from outside the venue.
A restricted airspace will be in place in and around the circuit for both events.
A robust communication plan with agencies and authorities advising fans to stay away from the venue and detailing the measures put in place that remove any incentive to speculatively travel.
I’d like to remind fans to stay away over both weekends and let the races take place without compromising the safety arrangements put in place.
For further information, please visit the Local Resident Information tab at: www.silverstone.co.uk/about/local-community
Coronavirus testing centres
It’s essential that if you or another person you live with develops symptoms of coronavirus that you book a test as soon as possible. Testing is most effective as soon as symptoms emerge, and it also gives the maximum amount of time to trace close contacts so that they can isolate too.
Currently, we have mobile testing facilities available in Aylesbury from Wednesday 22 July for up to three days, and in High Wycombe, there will be testing facilities available on Sunday 26 July. Please note these are in addition to other local and regional testing sites available for Buckinghamshire residents to use.
Get a free NHS test to check if you have coronavirus.
Keeping Buckinghamshire safe as lockdown relaxes
|Your actions count; together we can prevent the virus from spreading, avoid a localised outbreak and protect Buckinghamshire. That’s the message from Buckinghamshire Council as the country sees more restrictions than ever being lifted in the coming days. From this Saturday (4 July), facilities like libraries and outdoor play areas will start to reopen, and government guidance on meeting people outside your household is changing. The Council says that it’s really important to remember that the virus has not gone away, and it’s still the case that anyone can get it, and anyone can spread it, often with no symptoms.
A second spike or local lockdown remains a real threat so we must all continue to follow current guidelines and remember that all our actions count. It’s absolutely essential that we all continue to do the following:
– Follow social distancing when out and about; leave space between you and others and avoid physical contact with people outside your household (unless they are part of your extended household bubble).
– Wear a face covering such as a scarf or mask over your mouth and nose in places they’re required. We must do this on public transport as well as in hospitals and doctors surgeries. Consider wearing a face covering in other public places too such as shops and supermarkets. By doing this you are protecting others.
– Wash your hands regularly with soap and warm water for 20 seconds.
– Stay at home and self-isolate if you have symptoms of the virus (a new continuous cough or a high fever, or a loss of/change to your sense of taste or smell), if a member of your household has them or if you have been in close contact with someone who has a confirmed case of COVID or are advised to do so by the Test and Trace service. Book a test as soon as you develop any symptoms as the test is most accurate within a few days of your symptoms starting.
Please visit the website to find your nearest testing centre. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/testing-and-tracing/ask-for-a-test-to-check-if-you-have-coronavirus/ If you don’t have access to the internet you can call 119. The sooner you are tested, the sooner the test and trace system can be activated which will slow the spread of the virus and save lives.
– Travel by walking or cycling whenever you can. If this is not possible use your own car and don’t drive passengers from outside your household. New travel measures to help encourage walking and cycling are currently being developed by the Council.
Buckinghamshire Council Cabinet Member for Communities and Public Health, Gareth Williams, said that the next few weeks will be a really testing time for the country. “It may be tempting to feel that the pandemic is almost over, but whilst many of us can make the most of the easing of restrictions, there are still thousands of people in Buckinghamshire who are shielding or vulnerable. “Your actions will not only protect you, your family and your friends, but also all those people who really need our help to keep the virus at bay, so that they too can resume their normal lives. “As we have seen in other areas of the country, a localised outbreak or lockdown is a very real possibility, and no-one would want that to happen here, so if we all continue to follow the rules, we can prevent the virus spreading and avoid having to reverse the easing of the lockdown rules. Gareth added, “Thank you for doing your bit to stay safe and protect Bucks. Your actions will help to keep our communities open, allow us all to keep seeing friends and family and hopefully help defeat this deadly virus as soon as possible.” If you are unsure about how any of the current guidance applies to you then please check on the www.gov.uk/coronavirus website, which is regularly updated.