Let’s get straight to the serious news.
We have been warned!
Numbers of positive Covid-19 cases have been on the rise for a few weeks now, and we’ve started to see restrictions coming in to play in some of Shropshire’s neighbouring urban areas such as Birmingham and Wolverhampton. The concerning rise initially seemed like it was affecting only the young but evidence from other countries now shows that infections are not staying just in the younger age groups, but are moving through the age bands.
Yesterday, the Government’s Chief Scientific Officer, Sir Patrick Valiance then warned that nationally we could “end up with something like 50 thousand cases in the middle of October per day”. Today the Prime Minister is due to announce further Government restrictions across the whole country.
The announcements are really an expression of concern. It’s not a time to panic. The important thing is to ask – what can we do about it and how can we avoid a further local lockdown in Shropshire?
There is a clear message here that we all have a part to play in limiting the spread of the coronavirus. We all have a role to play by following guidelines about hygiene and keeping safe. It’s always worth repeating:
- HANDS – wash hands regularly and for 20 seconds,
- FACE – wear a face covering within indoor settings where social distancing may be difficult, and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet.
- SPACE – Stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with where possible; or, if not possible, 1 metre with extra precautions in place.
- ‘The Rule of 6’ – only meet socially in groups of a maximum of six people, indoors or outdoors, unless you are gathering as a ‘household’ or ‘support bubble’ which is larger than 6,
- Get tested if you have any symptoms. As you know, the symptoms of coronavirus include a high temperature, new continuous cough, and/or a loss or change in your sense of taste and smell.
As many of you will be aware, the Prime Minister laid out new measures yesterday to help combat the spread of Covid-19. These include:
· Pubs, bars and restaurants to close at 22:00 BST
· Pubs, bars and restaurants restricted to table service only
· People should work from home wherever possible
· Face masks compulsory for bar staff and non-seated customers, shop workers, waiters and taxi drivers
· Limit on guests at weddings reduced from 30 to 15
· Plans to allow fans to return to sporting events paused
· “Rule of six” now applies to indoor team sports
· Fines for not wearing masks or following rules increased to £200 for first offence
The Prime Minister’s full speech to House of Commons can be found here
I know that there have been issues around testing highlighted in the media, but the message is still the same – If you have symptoms, isolate immediately and arrange for a test. Tests can be booked for yourself or any member of your household, if they have symptoms. All tests must be booked in advance. You can register by calling NHS Test and Trace on 119 or online.
I have attached a simple ‘self-isolation checklist to this email and you can read a guide to help you prepare yourself for self-isolation through this link http://newsroom.shropshire.gov.uk/2020/09/coronavirus-be-prepared-in-case-you-need-to-isolate/
Also attached is a poster giving guidance on staying safe while returning to pubs and bars, please share this widely in your local hostelries.
Please check that we have the right information about your community group – NOW!
It’s vital that as the number of cases increase, we are all well prepared. Your community group has been key to supporting people this far, so please, check that Shropshire Council has your group’s full and correct details logged on its interactive web page map https://www.shropshire.gov.uk/coronavirus/information-for-the-public/community-support-services/ Check here, then let me know by return if any details need to change, so we can keep the directory up-to-date for anyone who might need to make contact with your group.
Talking to people in our town centres
The Council’s Community Reassurance Team were out on the ground in Oswestry recently, talking with locals heading into the town’s pubs and bars, and handing out free hand gel while chatting about keeping safe.
We’re in Shrewsbury town centre this Friday 25th September, then in Bridgnorth the following week – Friday 2nd October. Further to these upcoming engagement events, there are plans underway to visit other market towns soon after. Together we can get the messages about keeping safe out to all citizens in Shropshire.
If families and individuals have lost loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic they can access free bereavement counselling.
Run by Shropshire Council with support from Samaritans, Severn Hospice, Cruse Bereavement Care and Crane Quality Counselling, the Bereavement Support Service offers one to one personalised counselling for people across the county.
People will be able to talk to a trained professional about how they are feeling and to seek advice. Experts from the charities can also suggest helpful ways to remember and pay tribute to loved ones.
To access the bereavement service, simply call the Shropshire Council COVID-19 Helpline number on 0345 678 9028.
The line is available for anyone with questions or queries or looking for support and guidance. By ringing you can find out about the free and confidential bereavement services available, and you will receive support to arrange an appointment or get in touch directly.
Dean Carroll, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for adult social care, public health and climate change, said:
“Bereavement is a difficult experience under any situation. Some families may not have had the opportunity to say goodbye to their loved ones before they died, which can be particularly upsetting. Those who experience loss during the pandemic may also be cut off from some of their usual support network. Having someone at the end of the phone to talk to can make a huge difference. You don’t have to deal with this alone.
“We urge anyone feeling sad, lonely, distressed, overwhelmed or unable to cope to pick up the phone. We have ensured that you can access a range of services on a free and confidential basis. We aim to ensure everyone requiring bereavement support and help can access it quickly, easily, in a way and time that suits them.”
Please pass on the messages and continue the excellent work of encouraging people to stay safe and well while looking after friends, family and neighbours.