Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Public Health bosses urge communities to work together to avoid further local lockdown

“We’re all in this together” – Lancashire’s top Public Health bosses urge communities to work together to avoid further local lockdown measures

  • Lancashire could be just weeks away from a full county-wide lockdown if people don’t take notice now
  • Covid rates in Lancashire are amongst highest in the country and increasing every day
  • Hospital admissions for Covid19 are on the increase in the county
  • We all have a personal role to play in improving the situation in Lancashire
  • Clear public health advice is not to mix at all with anyone outside of your household or social bubble

The three Directors of Public Health (DPH) for Lancashire have joined forces to send a clear message to communities in the county.

Sakthi Karunanithi, DPH for Lancashire County Council, Arif Rajpura, DPH for Blackpool and Dominic Harrison, DPH for Blackburn with Darwen are unified in their message when they say to residents; “You must act now to avoid a local lockdown. We are asking you to follow the rules now, so you can enjoy doing the things you love again much sooner.”

The whole of Lancashire is now an area of intervention following a continued rise in Coronavirus cases. 

Strict measures limiting household mixing have been in place since last Tuesday (22 September). This is in addition to the national regulations announced by the Prime Minister in his address to the nation last week.

Cases have risen significantly across the county, with some of our towns ranking amongst the highest cases per 100,000 in the UK. As of yesterday (28 September), Burnley had the highest rates in the country, with 269.9 cases per 100,000.

Unfortunately, hospital admissions are also starting to increase steadily. Over 110 people are currently in Lancashire’s hospitals with Covid-19 and 20 of those are in intensive care.

The regulations in Lancashire mean that:

  • You cannot mix with other households in private homes and gardens. (But we advise that people do not mix at all with anyone outside of their household or social bubble.)
  • Hospitality venues including licensed premises have restricted opening hours (must close between 10pm and 5am) and must now meet legal requirements for how they operate including: taking and retaining customers' details, social distancing, staff and customer use of face coverings (when not eating or drinking), providing QR codes to order food and limiting bookings to six. Levels of fines have also increased for businesses who breach these requirements.  
  • Face coverings must be worn on public transport including in taxis and when you go shopping unless you are exempt
  • Attending sporting events is restricted with the organisers having to ensure they comply with specific legal requirements to ensure those attending are safe.
  • Only 15 people can attend a wedding service and reception - 30 people can still attend a funeral.
  • A maximum of six people can take part in indoor team sports.
  • Large sports events and conferences planned from 1 October will not now take place.

 The consequences of not following the regulations include hefty fines, increased restrictions in the future and risk to public health.

The three Directors of Public Health in Lancashire are keen to stress the importance of following the rules.

Dr Sakthi Karunanithi, Director of Public Health for Lancashire County Council, said: “The people of Lancashire have sacrificed so much already, and we know that what we are asking of people is tough. But we need to act now to control the spread of the virus, so that more restrictive measures aren’t put in place, we can lift the current ones sooner and ultimately so that we save lives.

“There are rumours that people aren’t getting ill, that hospital admissions are low. From someone who has been working on this from the beginning and speaks to frontline workers in our NHS every day, this is far from the truth. We are starting to see hospitalisations rise, and unfortunately with this, excess deaths will be inevitable, especially as we enter the difficult winter period.

“We’ve done one lockdown and I’m sure we took many positive experiences from that – spending more time outdoors appreciating nature, quality time with our loved ones and taking the time to slow down. But if we’re being honest, none of us want to go through that again, but what we are facing is a very real prospect of this.

“The restrictions in place now may seem draconian but they are far from a true lockdown scenario. We’re simply asking people to avoid mixing beyond their own households and be responsible. If we all take small steps to achieve that, we will get the numbers down in time.

“We are at a critical stage in which the whole of Lancashire is in the same position and we really all need to come together and do it for our county. We should all take some comfort in knowing that we are in the same boat and we’re working towards a shared goal. Let’s do it for our children, for Diwali, Christmas, birthdays, weddings, religious events, holidays and everything else we haven’t been able to fully enjoy since March.”

Dr Arif Rajpura, Director of Public Health for Blackpool Council, said: “As well as the additional restrictions, it is vital that we all remember and continue to implement the basics. We should all be washing our hands regularly and for at least 20 seconds, keeping our distance from others and wearing face coverings in public spaces.

Likewise, those who are symptomatic need to get a test and engage with the test and trace system and isolate. Stopping the chain of infection is vital to controlling the spread and we can all do really simple things to help.”

Professor Dominic Harrison, Director of Public Health for Blackburn with Darwen Council, said; “Despite some of the longest running special control measures in place across parts of Lancashire, confirmed cases continue to rise. These rising rates risk not only increased hospitalisations and deaths but also our continued economic and social wellbeing. If the rates continue on their current trajectory, we will have to take further control measures to ensure that enough of the workforce is able to be at work in key infrastructure services such as social care the NHS, police and essential food production and distribution services. This week marks a critical point in the rising second wave. We need to stick closely to the control measures we currently have in place if we are to avoid the necessity of further measures.”

Central Government reviews local restrictions weekly and can change them at any point in line with what the data is suggesting.