Residents, businesses and schools in Staffordshire must now rally once again as the country is placed in Lockdown 3 to help prevent the NHS becoming overwhelmed by the new strain of Covid-19 this winter.
In an address to the nation this evening, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed the third lockdown, including the closure of schools to most pupils until the half term on February 15.
Alan White, Leader of Staffordshire County Council, said the country and the county was now at a critical point after a surge of cases as the new more infectious strain of the Covid virus swept England.
Alan said: “Many people have already sacrificed so much and this will be devastating news for our residents, businesses and schools. However, despite the Tier 4 restrictions, cases are continuing to rise and the Government has decided that a third lockdown is needed to help the NHS becoming overwhelmed by this virus once again.
“While nobody wants to see further restricitons imposed, it is clear that Covid-19 preys on complacency. So our message is clear. Please act now and think of the impact of you spreading the virus may have not just on you, but on your family, your friends, your colleagues and your community.
“As a county council, our focus will remain on providing the best support for residents and businesses most in need. We now need the support of people who live and work in Staffordshire like never before to see us to a time when the promise of the vaccines can be fully delivered and their benefits truly felt.”
The key changes from midnight are:
- To go out for essential reasons only: Such as going to work if you can’t work from home, shopping for necessities, limited exercise and providing for care
- Primary schools and secondary schools will move to remote learning for most pupils from tomorrow
- Summer exams will be suspended
- People who had previously shielded will be asked to do so again
Full details of the restriction will be published at www.gov.uk/coronavirus
In Staffordshire, the average seven-day Covid-19 rate has climbed to around 400 per 100,000 population. The West Midlands rate is around 465 and the national rate around 560. Cannock Chase, South Staffordshire and East Staffordshire already have rates of more than 500 per 100,000 population.
Dr Richard Harling, Director of Health and Care, said: “Like everywhere, rates are spreading at an alarming rate in Staffordshire. While nobody wants further restrictions, the best chance of making sure we return to the freedoms we once knew is by sticking to the rules
“One third of people who have the virus don’t show any symptoms. So, if you can’t stay at home because of work etc then please do get a test if asked to do so, even if you have no symptoms as Identifying more people who have the virus, so they can self-isolate, will help us reduce the spread of infection
“We also all need to remember the basics of: Washing our hands regularly, wearing a face covering and keeping our distance. All are simple steps, which together can make the biggest difference.”