That was a big week, taking us forward on the road out of lockdown. Thousands of children have been successfully tested by our brilliant volunteers and teachers, enabling the safe return to schools and colleges. Each step forward on the Roadmap is guided by data and it will take at least five weeks until we know if the work that we’re doing now is successful in containing Covid-19. Provided the school home testing process is effective and we’re diligent in tracing infection outbreaks, then we can happily look forward to a further easing of restrictions.
In the meantime, it is best that we continue to follow the proven guidance of washing hands, making space and wearing our face coverings. One in three people carrying the virus are still not showing any symptoms, so if we’re out and about we should also get tested to protect our friends and family. Tests can easily be booked at local centres and take just 15 minutes. More details, here.
This week the local vaccination programme increased the number of first jabs given to people over 16 years-old from 49,764 to 54,467. Next week, 55 – 59 year-olds will receive their vaccination invitations as the programme steps-up with supplies set to double in the coming weeks. It was also great news to receive reports that the first dose of both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines offer high levels of protection, but even so, to properly deal with Covid-19 we’ll still need to get our second jab.
Don’t wait to be contacted for your vaccination if any of the following apply: you are aged 55 or over, clinically extremely vulnerable, are a frontline health or social care worker, receive a carers allowance or have a learning disability. You can book a jab directly at the national centre Stoneleigh, or at a local pharmacy online, or by calling 119.
The combination of lockdown measurers, continued testing and vaccinating is impacting our local infection rates, which have again declined this week from 76.5 to 58.4 cases per 100,000 residents. The Government’s guidance is regularly updated, helping us understand how to progress to the next step on the Roadmap.
Our voluntary and community organisations continue to play a vital role. Through the Community Economic Recovery Fund, we’re pleased to be able to provide much-needed financial support to those that deliver essential services to the most vulnerable in our community. This funding helps these organisations that have had to adapt, increase or cease services as a result of the pandemic. Applications for what will hopefully be the final round of grants can be made here by the 31 March closing date. A reminder too, that we’re also continuing to provide grants to support our business community, so please visit here, for up-to-date details on the available schemes.
Preparations are well advanced for our local elections for Police & Crime Commissioner, County Councillors, Clarendon District by-election and for the neighbourhood plan referendums in Leamington, Radford Semele and possibly Bishop’s Tachbrook. Postal vote applications close on Tuesday 25 April at 5pm. On election day Thursday 6 May, our polling stations will be operating within a covid-safe environment being regularly cleaned, with staff wearing PPE and safe spacing measurers in place. When you visit the polling station, you will be required to wear a mask and use your own pencil to vote. As part of our safety measures, we need additional staff to work at the polling stations or to count votes. Many of the roles do not require any previous experience. Our website has information on the elections and the roles available.
Next Sunday 21 March is National Census day, when the information we submit will provide a vital insight into how we are living now and inform the services that your council will deliver in the future. If you have any questions about the form, or need help completing it, then our Brunswick Hub in Leamington is a Census Support Centre – just call 01926 422123 for help.
With 503 days to go until the start of the 2022 Commonwealth Games, there are many great opportunities for local catering suppliers to provide services to spectators, athletes, officials, volunteers, and workforce. This is a welcome boost to a sector that has suffered significantly this year and we’re keen to see local companies awarded these contracts. The application process is now open, with the final tender in May, ready for contacts to be awarded this summer. If you’re interested, please apply here.
Finally, almost a year on from the first lockdown, supporting our mental health and wellbeing has never been more important. Coventry & Warwickshire Public Health has launched a survey seeking views on the support we need, which will inform commissioning decisions for further services and resources. Please think about your health and wellbeing and anonymously complete the survey, here.