In my last update, I explained that HM Government is doing all that it can to help you see more of your friends and family, get businesses back on their feet and get people back to work. This is no easy task. But, as the Prime Minster said: “As we plan for the worst, I strongly believe we should also hope for the best.”
We are recovering. The current R-rate across Britain is between 0.8 and 0.9. We now know much more about the virus – our intelligence network is in full flow thanks to the NHS track and trace scheme, which means we can see where it is spreading and target it through localised restrictions. To make sure we can react quickly, we’re devolving powers to local authorities, enabling them to close specific premises, shut public outdoor spaces and cancel events to stop the virus in its tracks in cases of localised ‘spikes’.
This being said, as we learn more about the virus, HM Government has to use this data and make tough decisions to ensure you and your families are safe. On Friday, the Prime Minister announced that some changes planned for 1st August will be postponed for two weeks, meaning the 15th August at the earliest. This means that bowling alleys, skating rinks and other close contact services must remain closed and that indoor performances will not resume.
Further guidance has also been updated and I have condensed it below:
Face coverings – Currently we must, by law, wear a face covering on both public transport and in shops. From 8th August, we need to in other indoor settings such as museums, galleries, cinemas and in places of worship.
Self-Isolation – The self-isolation period has been extended from 7 to 10 days for those in the community who have coronavirus symptoms or a positive test result.
Travel – Spain and Luxembourg have been removed from the travel corridors exemption list, meaning you must self-isolate for 14 days if you arrive back from either country. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has updated its guidance to reflect this change and now advises against all non-essential travel.
Sports and outdoor activities – We can now participate in team and other sports where the sport’s governing body has issued guidance on how to do so safely. Sadly, the planned pilots of crowds in sports venues and conference centres have had to be postponed until the 15th August at the earliest.
Swimming – I know that my daughter has missed her swimming lessons terribly, so it’s fantastic that indoor swimming pools and water parks can now re-open. Outdoor pools and water parks have been able to since 11th July.
Outdoor theatre – Outdoor performances in front of a live audience, and indoor rehearsals, can take place in Covid-secure venues.
Beauty – Close contact services, such as nail bars, salons, spas and massage parlours, can open for some services that can be conducted within Covid-secure guidance.
Thank you once again to everyone across North East Hampshire for following the guidance. I don’t pretend it’s been easy. Nor do I presume that we’ve been able to do everything that you might have wanted us to do. But it is because of your sacrifice and our fabulous community spirit that we are defeating this terrible virus and getting back to a sense of normality.