With covid rates soaring, parents facing tough decisions over children’s return to school and both Scotland and Wales toughening restrictions, the changes announced tonight came as little surprise, as we are plunged into another lockdown.
The latest figures for Hart and Rushmoor have shown significant increases, with reports of growing covid occupancy in Frimley Park Hospital and ever increasing challenges for NHS staff.
Following advice from all four nation’s UK chief medical officers, the UK will move into alert level 5, the highest possible level. Level 5 means that there is a “material risk of healthcare services being overwhelmed” and despite the similar name, is separate from the Tier level status. Shielding is reinstated and the message is – stay at home. This is to last until at least mid February.
Below: The UK is to move from Level 4 to Level 5 Alert.
People are now instructed to stay at home apart from these exceptions:
For work, if people cannot work from home, such as those in the construction sector or key workers
To shop for necessities such as food or medicines
To exercise once per day at a local location. This can include with one other person from outside someone’s household or support/childcare bubble
To provide care or help to vulnerable people
To attend medical appointments or medical care, or to flee the threat of harm or violence.
Other restrictions are as follows:
All non-essential retailers, hospitality and ‘personal care’ like hairdressers must close if they have not yet done so under the tier system.
Restaurants and other eateries can continue to operate for takeaways and deliveries.
But pubs will no longer be allowed to offer take-away alcohol sales, because of the number of people gathering outside to drink.
Children’s playgrounds will remain open.
All indoor and outdoor sports venues, including golf courses and tennis courts, must close, and team sports cannot take place, even outdoors.
Elite sports like the premier league can go on under their own schemes.
PE lessons for those children still in school are allowed.
People who are extremely critically vulnerable (ECV) should stay at home even if they cannot work.
They can leave to get necessities like food and medicine but they should avoid busy areas.
Below: The daily figures for Fleet West and Winchfield. Check your area here.
Full details of the lockdown are listed below:
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The light at the end of the tunnel comes in the form of the much heralded vaccines that are to be distributed over the coming months but exactly when people will receive the jabs are still uncertain. Church Crookham Pharmacy have announced that they hope to be setting up a covid vaccine hub but Fleet has not yet announced a vaccination site.
A vaccine calculator has been set up, based on current government data, to give people an idea when they may be offered the jab. You can view the calculator here.
Below: Church Crookham Pharmacy setup vaccination hub.
Local Councillor Steve Forster posted the latest Hart figures on his Facebook page, along with information about local vaccination sites:
With parents and teachers stressing about the return to schools and the government facing increasing opposition from unions, scientists and even the pupils themselves, it seems that school closures was the only remaining option. A petition to close schools in Tier 4 areas has already reached almost 200,000 as schools and universities are now set to close until the half term break in mid-February. Nurseries will remain fully open with childcare and support bubbles remaining in place.
Free school meals will continue to be available and provisions will be made for remote learning. Exams for this summer are unlikely to go ahead.
With NHS workers at breaking point and hospitals becoming overwhelmed, it’s sad to see the days where we used to clap the NHS and show our appreciation long gone. Social media has become a hive of activity for people that seem to delight in denying there is a pandemic, offering a huge slap in the face for those who are facing unimaginable horrors on a daily basis on our behalf. From the tinfoil hat brigade that think hospitals are secretly empty to personal insults directed at NHS staff who are risking their own lives to help others, the madness shows no sign of abating, as those we used to call our NHS heroes are left at breaking point.
We all know social media has it’s ups and downs but if there are truly any of you out there that believe the rising death toll is just a fabrication then please…at least keep those thoughts in your own heads. Stop destroying those who are giving up so much for us and start showing these people the respect they truly deserve. So many people are grateful beyond belief for the care that has helped the community and which has undoubtedly saved lives. Maybe in the face of these awful times, those who don’t believe will at least have the good grace to remain silent, allowing us all to come together and help each other once more.
Stay Safe Fleet x
For further local help and information, check out our Covid Help & Information Page.
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