Whilst North Devon rates of infection remain lower than most the rest of the country, I think we had all hoped we would avoid another lockdown. The regional approach has in many ways helped to suppress the virus somewhat, however, the situation has changed rapidly, and even in the south-west the R rate is running at 1.2-1.5, which means the rate of infection is still increasing, and it is important to act now, and keep this under control.
Last week, I met with our local Clinical Commissioning Group, and it was clear that the situation within our local NHS services is far more serious, and has changed rapidly. It is vital through the winter, when our much loved local hospital supports so many more of us in normal years, that it can continue to admit non-Covid patients, in a way it was not able to in the first lockdown.
Data which has been shared last weekend shows that the risk of doing nothing at this time is immense. None of us want to spend Christmas with daily death figures at the level the data suggests they might reach.
This second lockdown is different to the first and our schools and universities will remain open which is vital for our children’s present and future.
Businesses will receive further financial support than if they had tried to limp on with a decreasing level of business had we remained in tier one with an increasing proportion of the country locked down.
We are also allowed to travel locally to exercise and there is no limit on the time you can exercise for, and you can join one other person to exercise with. For many of us this enables us to walk on beaches or moors, or swim in the sea which I hope will make this lockdown easier than the first.
Those who live by themselves can create a support bubble with another household. I would strongly urge people to take advantage of this and ensure you are regularly meeting up if possible and telephoning those who may have limited social contact at this very difficult time.
I know there are some specific concerns which I have raised with ministers and my team and I will continue to seek clarification on resident’s particular issues. Having had the opportunity to meet virtually with several health ministers since Saturday’s announcement as well as their senior national advisors, I can confirm that difficult decisions have been taken, but they are linked to where there has been evidence of transmission of the virus. The fundamental message remains to stay at home from Thursday, and therefore, whilst some of the activities which we are seeking to continue are in themselves Covid-secure, the top line message for these four weeks remains to stay at home.
The hope is, that by having this lockdown now we can supress the virus again. But as through the last lockdown, this will only work if we all follow the guidance.
Residents and businesses in North Devon have done a remarkable job at keeping the rate of infection low – thank you. We will get through this together. But at this time, we do need to Stay At Home, to Protect the NHS, and Save Lives.