Archive for June, 2020

Easing the lockdown

Wednesday, June 24th, 2020

In his speech to the House of Commons on Tuesday the PM outlined a number of important changes to lockdown rules to come into effect from 4 July.  These include:

  • People should still stay 2 metres apart if they can, but this can be reduced to least 1 metre apart as long as there are mitigations in place.
  • Two households will be able to meet inside, in any setting.
  • Pubs and restaurants will be re-opened, but limited to table service.
  • People will also be able to stay in hotels and on camping and caravan sites
  • Hairdressers will also be able to reopen, so long as there are precautions in place

It’s good news that we are in a position to ease the lockdown but it’s still a real balancing act between keeping people safe and allowing businesses to get up and running.

The leisure, tourism and hospitality industry have been impacted quite badly throughout the pandemic with many having to close or vastly reduce or change their services. 

This is also a really important sector for us here in Staffordshire too, worth around £1.8 billion each year and employing over 33,000 people.  But with these new rules and a firm opening date in place, businesses now have enough time to adapt to the new working guidelines.

We’ve supported our local businesses throughout the crisis, and we’ll continue to help them get back up and running, as well as pushing ahead with our plans to attract even more investment and grow our economy.

The easing of restrictions is also great news for families, especially when coupled with yesterday’s announcement about relaxing the guidance on shielding, as it means they can spend more time together.

As the Prime Minister said, COVID-19 has not gone away, so it is important people keep following the guidelines and keep themselves and everyone around them safe.

As always, the latest Coronavirus advice is available here

Reopening of high streets and support for students preparing for GCSEs and A levels

Tuesday, June 16th, 2020

From today we’ll see a slight but welcome step back towards normality with many ‘non-essential’ shops reopening since the lockdown. But, it’s still vital that we all continue to follow the official advice and specific guidance when visiting shops if we are to help prevent further infection.

Our highways teams have been busy working closely with borough and district councils to prepare shopping streets and town centre areas for social distancing and hygiene requirements for when customers return, as well as promoting walking and cycling routes.

There’s a lot of considerations and possibilities. For example, we could create one-way pedestrian streets to allow for social distancing,  or close car parking bays to widen pavements to allow pedestrian segregation while people are passing each other or queuing for shops. 

The most important thing is that people are kept safe, and while we will do our upmost to achieve this, we will need people to do their bit by following the spirit of social distancing too.

Also from today, every secondary school in Staffordshire will have provision for students preparing for GCSE and A Level exams next year.

Social distancing, reduced student numbers in classrooms and more online learning are just some of the measures being put in place to help keep students and staff safe. Parents have already been informed of the arrangements being put in place, which will vary from school to school.

Making sure that our children are able to continue learning is really important for their future but it’s a real balancing act between keeping the virus contained. We will continue to support all our schools throughout the pandemic and once again I would like to thank teachers and staff for what they have done and will continue to do for the children of Staffordshire.

The latest Coronavirus advice is available here

Life after Coronavirus in Staffordshire

Thursday, June 11th, 2020

There’s no doubt that the Coronavirus pandemic has changed the world in many ways. Life as we all knew it is unlikely to return to exactly the same and we have to recognise the impact of the virus on businesses, communities, a fragile care market and our own finances in our recovery.

But if the crisis has shown us anything it proves that in times of need, the council and the whole county can pull together to make an incredible difference. I have spoken about this in previous blog posts too but I have been truly humbled by the incredible response from our communities as they stepped up to help family, neighbours and people who were strangers before the crisis started.

Throughout the pandemic the county council has focused on the immediate response and managing the outbreak locally, but also kept a close eye on the lasting impact it will have and how we can shape a stronger Staffordshire post pandemic.

While we will not forget the huge toll the virus has already taken on individuals and their families across the county, our priority now must be to contain the spread of infection and also to look to the future, gradually reopening the county for business, for investment, for growth and ultimately for the benefit of Staffordshire families.

Next week, I will be taking our recovery plan to Cabinet for approval, detailing how we will rebuild the county. We will be focusing on key areas i.e. health and care, families and communities, economy and skills, the digital agenda, and climate change.

Once again, we have shown how resilient the county can be which will be a huge strength as we continue to build on our response and look more to the future and a different way of life after Covid-19.

But please let’s not forget, the virus hasn’t gone away, so we still need to stay alert and follow the advice around social distancing and good personal hygiene and thorough hand washing.

All the latest Coronavirus advice can be found here.

NHS Test and Trace service

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2020

Last week we saw the launch of the NHS Test and Trace service, the next phase in Government efforts to contain the virus.

This means people who are known to have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus, will be contacted and instructed to self-isolate for 14 days, regardless of whether they have any symptoms.  It’s vital that we follow any instructions from the service, so if you are contacted please do as they ask.  This is about protecting yourself, your family, and the wider community – and avoiding a second peak and further lock-down restrictions.

As a county council with responsibilities for public health locally, we will also be taking a lead role in managing any outbreaks in the county such as in care homes, schools or businesses.

There are no doubt still difficult times ahead as we balance easing “lock-down” with trying to contain the virus, but as always, if we pull together we will get through this.

Please keep yourself up to date with the latest Coronavirus advice here.