The national lockdown decision comes as COVID-19 infection rates rise rapidly across the UK, as well as in Bristol. The England average infection rate is now 519 per 100,000 and Bristol’s infection rate is 306 per 100,000 people, which represents a 57% increase in the city from the previous seven days.
Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, has appealed to Bristol’s residents to yet again pull together to turn the rising tide of infections, protect the most vulnerable people in our communities and do their very best to stay home and save lives.
Mayor Rees said: “I know how hard people have worked over the past months enduring changes to their lives that we never could have imagined. Thank you for doing your very best, but it is clear, we still must to do more. While no one wants businesses and schools closed, or limits on meeting friends and family, we must once again pull together and harness the commitment that pulled us through the previous two lockdowns. It is tough for us all, but we must stay home and save lives.”
Recognising the challenges the government is facing, Mayor Rees said: “We will need protection for jobs and businesses that are unable to operate. We need to support schools to reopen safely and to provide education for keyworker and vulnerable children. And we must rally the city to help those in need due to poverty, mental ill-health or shielding. We also need to continue planning for recovering from lockdown and the pandemic, and the eventual reopening of schools and businesses.
“The virus needs controlling to save lives and we can all help with this by following the guidance. However we must also recognise that the continued measures are having a detrimental impact on people’s lives and livelihoods. The situation is causing stress, worry and anxiety and the long term effects of that will take years for our communities to recover from. The need in Bristol has never been greater.
“I know that closing schools adds pressures for parents and teachers and this last minute notice to shut schools impacts on jobs and household finances alongside the demands of home learning. We are continuing to talk with unions and head teachers to help them support parents and school staff during this difficult time.”
The mayor has also renewed calls for the government to provide assurance that lockdown restrictions will be fully funded for businesses and self-employed people unable to work.
Mayor Rees said: “We need to ensure people are fully supported with the right financial packages so are once again calling for more clear and urgent action to save local businesses, and ensure no one falls through the gaps in financial support.
“Monthly funding packages for councils to support additional lockdown restrictions must continue for as long as these new restrictions are in place. So far, the government has announced no further allocations to the Additional Restricted Grant, meaning the funding we do have is simply not sufficient to meet the level of need we have in the city.”
Many individuals and businesses are excluded from national financial support measures. ExcludedUK highlighted that around 10% of the national workforce are currently excluded from meaningful support.
Mayor Rees said: “Bristol has 30,200 self-employed people, and only 24,400 were eligible for the original Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) in the first national lockdown in March last year. Thousands of people were considered not eligible by government and left behind without the support they need. Additional funding of around £1m per month is needed to support hundreds of traders through the next few weeks.”
The council is also ramping up efforts to offer mental health and wellbeing support to people in the city, who are finding the ongoing situation particularly demanding. Mayor Rees appealed to residents to support this by showing graciousness to one another in the face of another big challenge for the city.
Mayor Rees said: “I know how hard the past months have been on everyone’s lives, relationships, work and mental health, and I thank everyone for their efforts so far. I appeal to you all once again to continue to show kindness and love. Look out for neighbours, friends, family and those most vulnerable or at risk of domestic abuse. We must all follow the guidance that is in place to keep us safe so we can return to normal sooner. Please do the most you can do, stay at home and save lives.”
Director for Public Health Christina Gray said: “Unfortunately, the combination of the new COVID-19 variant and the winter pressure on health and care systems have meant additional measures are needed. It is welcome news that the Oxford COVID-19 vaccine has been approved, but we must continue to take care, the virus is still very much in circulation.
“We must continue to prevent the virus spreading by following the guidance – in order to protect ourselves, our loved ones and those most vulnerable. If you or someone you have close contact with has symptoms, please self-isolate at home and book a test. You must stay at home. Wash your hands frequently. Wear face coverings. Stay two metres away from other people. We all need to do the best we can to Protect Bristol.”
Support is available through the We Are Bristol free helpline on 0800 694 0184, open Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5pm and Saturday to Sunday 10am- 2pm. A 24/7 helpline is also available for people in Bristol to get immediate emotional and practical mental health support, on 0800 012 6549.
Further information from: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-lockdown-stay-at-home
In summary what you can and cannot do during the national lockdown:
You must not leave, or be outside of your home except where necessary. You may leave the home to:
- shop for basic necessities, for you or a vulnerable person
- go to work, or provide voluntary or charitable services, if you cannot reasonably do so from home
- exercise with your household (or support bubble) or one other person, this should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area
- meet your support bubble or childcare bubble where necessary, but only if you are legally permitted to form one
- seek medical assistance or avoid injury, illness or risk of harm (including domestic abuse)
- attend education or childcare - for those eligible
- You cannot leave your home to meet socially with anyone you do not live with or are not in a support bubble with (if you are legally permitted to form one)
- You may exercise on your own, with one other person, or with your household or support bubble
- You should not meet other people you do not live with, or have formed a support bubble with, unless for a permitted reason
- Stay 2 metres apart from anyone not in your household.