Lockdown timing ‘right for North Somerset’ due to sharp rise in virus cases

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (COVI

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (COVID-19). Picture: Alberto Pezzali/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Council leaders are calling on people in North Somerset to stay home to protect the health of their loved ones as England prepares for a second lockdown.

North Somerset saw one of the highest national rises in coronavirus cases last week, which had already prompted local discussions about voluntarily entering a higher alert level.

Council leaders are supporting the national lockdown and are appealing for people to follow the follow the rules to help prevent the spread of the virus.

North Somerset Council’s Leader, Cllr Don Davies, said: “We know the thought of a second national lockdown is daunting, but we also know the people of North Somerset are amazingly resilient.

“We did it before and we can do it again. With everyone choosing to follow the rules, we will keep our residents, including our vulnerable population, safe and well.”

Yesterday (Sunday), the rate of infection in North Somerset was 151.6 per 100,000 – with 326 new cases confirmed in the previous seven days.

This figure is above the regional average of 142.3 per 100,000.

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Deputy Leader and member with responsibility for health, Cllr Mike Bell, said: “We watch case data closely and the sharp increase seen in the previous week means the timing of this national lockdown is right for North Somerset.

“We’d been in discussions with our neighbouring councils, our partners in the local health and care system, and with Government about the move into a higher level of alert and all agreed we had to make that move to avoid even higher rates of infection locally.

“This is serious. We have to work together to protect our community and our health services.

“At this time of year our hospitals and care settings face winter pressures and we know there are already significant challenges across the health system in the South West, as referenced by the Prime Minister in his announcement yesterday.

“We have to make sure the system can cope and care for those in greatest need.”

Boris Johnson announced the new restrictions at a press conference from Downing Street on Saturday.

He said the steps were necessary to avoid the NHS being overwhelmed and stressed hospital beds in the South West could run out within two weeks if no action is taken.

Under the new lockdown rules, which comes into force on Thursday and are expected to last until December 2, pubs, restaurants, gyms and non-essential shops must close.

Schools, colleges and universities can remain open.

People are being told to stay at home unless they have a specific reason to leave.

These include:

n For childcare or education, where it is not provided online.

n For work purposes, where your place of work remains open and where you cannot work from home.

n To exercise outdoors or visit an outdoor public place – with the people you live with, with your support bubble or, when on your own, with one person from another household.

n For any medical concerns, reasons, appointments and emergencies, or to avoid or escape risk of injury or harm – such as domestic abuse.

n Shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which should be as infrequent as possible.

n To visit members of your support bubble or provide care for vulnerable people, or as a volunteer.

Cllr Bell added: “Our priority locally is to protect our most vulnerable residents and businesses.

“During the first lockdown our community rose to the challenge and we are incredibly grateful to each and every volunteer and group for all their dedication and hard work.”

Information about support available can be found on the council’s website by logging on to www.n-somerset.gov.uk/together for individuals and www.n-somerset.gov.uk/covidbusinesssupport for businesses.

The latest Government information, including detailed guidance as it’s released, can be found at www.gov.uk/covid