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Further COVID-19 measures to protect the vulnerable and NHS

9 December 2021

Residents are being urged to be extra vigilant as new measures are introduced to tackle the spread of the Omicron variant in the UK.

Last night (8 December), the Government announced a series of additional measures will be put in place following a rise in the number of COVID-19 cases over the past few weeks – some of which are now linked to the new variant.

In the announcement, the Prime Minister announced additional ‘Plan B’ precautions to help people stay safe and prevent spread, including:

  • From 10 December 2021, mandatory face covering rules are extended to most indoor public places and on public transport, including taxis, Council buildings and libraries (but will not include hospitality settings such as cafes, restaurants and pubs).
  • From 13 December 2021, guidance is for people to work from home if they can. Anyone who cannot work from home should continue to go into work.
  • From 15 December, certain venues and events will be required by law to check that all visitors aged 18 years or over are fully vaccinated, have proof of a negative test in the last 48 hours, or have an exemption.

This announcement follows previous measures which have already been reintroduced including the mandatory face mask wearing on public transport, in shops, and other settings such as banks, post offices and hairdressers, as well as on public transport unless individuals are exempt from doing so. Children, staff, and visitors in secondary schools will also be required to wear face coverings when in communal areas.

Whilst much is still unknown about the Omicron variant, there are concerns that due to the increase in the rate of new cases, pressure on the NHS this winter could lead to it being overwhelmed. The additional measures have therefore been introduced to help people stay safe and prevent spread while giving time for more people to be vaccinated and have the vital booster jab.

Cllr Gareth Roberts, Leader of Richmond Council, said:

“Unfortunately, these additional measures are necessary. Our COVID-19 rate has been way too high for a number of weeks. In addition, with the arrival of a new variant, coupled with the other winter pressures on the NHS, it is incumbent on us all to change our behaviour.

“There is absolutely no room for complacency, especially in the busy period leading up to Christmas. We all need to think carefully about where we go and what we do to minimise the risks to ourselves and others. It doesn’t mean you can’t go out for Christmas drinks, or you can’t go shopping, or go to your child’s nativity play. But it does mean that if you are asked to wear a face covering – wear one. Consider taking a lateral flow test before you mix with others, and importantly if you or your family display any symptoms, isolate immediately and take a PCR test.”

Locally, the rate of new cases continue to be the highest in London. The rate in the past 7 days up to 3rd December in Richmond is 668.7 per 100,000 population. This is well above the London average of 451.7 per 100,000 and the England average of 493.3 per 100,000. The high rate of infections is largely driven by children of primary school age and those in secondary schools. We are also seeing a rise in infections amongst people aged 25-59 years, some whom maybe parents of school age children.

The Council is working closely with local schools to support and manage outbreaks. However, families are also encouraged to do their bit. Ensuring that they, and their children are following the rules, but also regularly testing and self-isolating if necessary.

Over the next few days, the Council will work closely to support local businesses as they move to introduce the new measures, whilst striving to support the NHS to ensure everyone has speedy access to a COVID-19 vaccination.

Cllr Roberts added:

“Richmond residents have been brilliant in coming forward for the COVID-19 vaccines. Over 139, 000 people have had both doses, and over 62, 000 have had a booster. We also know that thousands of 12-15-year-olds have also been vaccinated through their schools.

“However, there are still people who haven’t had the jab and I cannot stress how important this is. If you are in any way hesitant about having the vaccination – there are so many places where you can discuss your concerns or questions. Reaching out in the first instance to your GP or local pharmacist.

“Over the days and weeks ahead there will be many locations in the nearby area to have the jab or your booster. Please don’t delay.

“We are all tired and exhausted of COVID-19, but this won’t go away unless we all rally together.”

Take these steps now to protect yourself:

  • Get the coronavirus vaccine and booster as soon as you are eligible to do so
  • Take regular lateral flow tests, including whenever you will be in a high risk situation that day or before you visit people who are at higher risk of severe illness if they get COVID-19
  • Self-isolate immediately and book a PCR test if you have any COVID-19 symptoms
  • When meeting others, try to do so outside. If meeting indoors, make sure there is plenty of ventilation.
  • Wear face coverings on public transport, in shops and other settings in line with the Government instructions.
  • In indoor settings where a face covering is not legally required, you should still continue to wear a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces where you may come into contact with other people you do not normally meet
  • Wash your hands regularly and properly is an effective way of reducing the spread of viruses
  • Work from home where possible

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Up to: December 2021

Updated: 29 December 2021

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