Latest Coronavirus update from North Somerset Council

Published: 29 March 2021

On Monday 29 March step one of the government’s road map out of lockdown will be completed, allowing groups of up to six people, or two households, to meet outside.

The new rules will see residents able to start reconnecting with their friends and family, but vital Covid guidance, such as washing hands, wearing face coverings, and making space, will still be essential in keeping infection rates low in North Somerset.

With lockdown restrictions starting to ease, and our excitement to get back to normal as quickly as possible, it may be tempting to skip ahead.

But moving faster, and doing those things ahead of the government’s timetable, could put us back into lockdown, and will risk lives.

We’ve all seen how fast things can change, and how disappointing it feels when that happens.

Case rates in North Somerset have fallen thanks to everyone who has stayed home and followed the guidance. It has not been easy, and we thank each and every person who has kept going, even when it has been difficult.

It’s vitally important we all keep playing our part and doing what we know works. Stay more than 2m away from people you don’t live with, even when you’re meeting outside, wash your hands often, and wear a face covering if you can.

Following those basic Covid precautions we’ve all been practising for the last year will be essential to safely unlocking, even if you’ve been vaccinated or had a recent negative Covid-19 test. We don’t want to risk the gains we’ve made by trying to jump ahead of the step by step approach.

It is also extremely important that anyone who has a new continuous cough, a temperature, or a change in their sense of taste or smell self-isolate straight away and get a symptomatic test, even if they think the symptoms are down to something else like a cold or recent vaccination side effects.

By taking it slowly and sticking to the basics we will continue to look after each other and reduce the risk of future outbreaks in North Somerset.

Latest coronavirus data

Recorded cases of coronavirus have continued to fall in North Somerset.

58 new cases have been identified in the latest seven-day period reported for North Somerset compared with 91 the previous week. Our case rate per 100,000 head of population has decreased to 27.0. This compares with a South West figure of 28.4, and an England rate of 55.5.

There is a lag in case data meaning the latest information is for the week ending Saturday 20 March.

You can see more detail on our local case data at www.n-somerset.gov.uk/lomp.

Case data is also available at national, regional, council and neighbourhood level at https://coronavirus.data.gov.uk/cases

Vaccinations in North Somerset

The latest figures published show that up to 20 March 56.60% of North Somerset residents aged 16 and over have had at least one does of the Covid-19 vaccination.

You can view vaccination data on the NHS website.

If you’re 50 or over you can now book online for your vaccination without having to wait to be invited by your GP or call 119.

Road map changes from Monday

On Monday 29 March step one of the government’s road map out of lockdown will be completed.

From Monday:

  • people can meet outside, either with one other household or within the ‘rule of six’, including in private gardens
  • the stay at home rule is ending – but with advice to stay local as much as possible, continue to work from home, and avoid travel at the busiest times
  • outdoor sport facilities will re-open, including golf courses and tennis and basketball courts, and formally organised outdoor sports can restart without spectators
  • Weddings can take place, attended by up to six people.

It is hoped step two of the road map, which will see more restrictions lifted including re-opening of non-essential shops, will follow on 12 April. The Government will review the data to assess how the first steps have impacted case rates and hospital admissions before confirming England’s date for the next step.

GPs’ ‘five-step check’ for Bank Holiday care

Local GPs are encouraging residents to do a ‘five-step check’ to prepare for the long Easter bank holiday weekend while many GP surgeries and pharmacies are closed or have reduced opening hours.

They recommend:

  1. Picking up prescriptions if you’re due to run out over the bank holiday
  2. Checking your medicine cabinet is well stocked so you can self-care for any minor illnesses
  3. Knowing which pharmacists are open if you needed emergency medication or advice
  4. Using 111 first for urgent care
  5. Using A&E for life threatening emergencies only

Covid-19 vaccine for those with underlying health conditions

Anyone who was asked to take the additional precaution of shielding during lockdown, is eligible now for a Covid-19 vaccination. If you have had a letter to say you should shield, and have not already had your vaccination, you are strongly encouraged to book an appointment by contacting your GP, visiting www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination or calling 119 free of charge between 7am and 11pm.

Reminder - shielding ends on Wednesday

For those people who were advised to shield, this will end on 31 March. Anyone who is currently shielding is advised to continue to take extra precautions from April to keep themselves safe from Covid-19, including continuing to maintain strict social distancing and to keep their overall social contacts at low levels, such as working from home where possible.

We know most people will continue to get any extra help they need from friends, family and neighbours, and we would urge them to do so wherever possible.

Support is also available for those who need it from the North Somerset Together network of community and voluntary sector partners. They can help with social contact, practical support and advising on where to get more specialist help, for example around mental health or benefits.

You can find details of the support available in your area.

Or, you can request support online or call North Somerset Together on 01934 427 437.

Voluntary Action North Somerset supporting vaccination sites

From April 2021, Voluntary Action North Somerset (VANS) will be supporting the recruitment and coordination of volunteers for non-clinical roles at vaccination sites across Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (BNSSG). Use of community volunteers started at Ashton Gate Mass Vaccination Centre in mid-March.

The BNSSG vaccination volunteers programme will work alongside existing provision and volunteers to meet demand in non-clinical and stewarding volunteer roles, integrating links to the local volunteer centres and maximising the potential to use volunteers at vaccination centres. VANS is already connected with other agencies providing similar support including, the national Royal Voluntary Service (RVS) and Avon and Somerset Fire and Rescue.

VANS will provide a coordinated approach to ensure that general practices, community pharmacies, and other community vaccination sites across BNSSG are able to access suitable volunteers to enable effective role out of the vaccine within communities.

How to volunteer
All vaccination sites are now able to go direct to the national RVS scheme to schedule NHS volunteer responders to support with stewarding.

If you would like to volunteer you can register through the RVS website.

Events advice

The government’s road map brings hope of events being able to start again from 17 May.

To help organisers understand the current guidance, our food safety and licensing teams, which are responsible for enforcing the Covid-19 restrictions, have developed guidance for event organisers.

Although the road map is a big step forward for the events industry, it comes with many conditions.

We recommend when planning for an event during this period that you stay flexible. This includes:

  • including social distancing, and testing requirements in your plans
  • creating a contingency plan to adapt or even cancel your event close to the launch date, depending on government advice.

Rapid home testing collection sites extended

Home testing kits for those who do not have symptoms of coronavirus who are doing twice-weekly testing can now be collected from more sites.

Anyone who cannot work from home, and members of households and bubbles that include school and college pupils or staff can get rapid Covid-19 tests twice a week.

They can do this at:

  1. North Somerset’s community testing centres in Weston, Nailsea and Portishead
  2. Via their employer if they are part of a workplace programme
  3. At home.

1. Community testing centres
North Somerset’s testing centres are at Hutton Moor in Weston-super-Mare, Scotch Horn in Nailsea and Somerset Hall in Portishead.

The centres are open seven days a week 8.30am-5.30pm with late opening until 7.30pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Tests are by appointment only and can be booked at www.n-somerset.gov.uk/rapidtesting

2. Workplace and school programmes
The government has provided workplace testing for many sectors, including care homes and emergency services.

Staff in all schools and pupils in year 7 and above can also get their tests through their school.

3. At home testing
For families and bubbles that include children, test kits can be collected from the testing centres at Locking Road car park in Weston-super-Mare and Bristol Airport daily between 1pm and 8pm.

Anyone aged 16 and over can also pick up kits from North Somerset’s testing sites at Hutton Moor in Weston, Scotch Horn in Nailsea, and Somerset Hall in Portishead daily from 8.30am-5.30pm and until 7.30pm on Tuesdays and Thursday.

For those who cannot get to the sites (for example, if they cannot drive), a limited number have been made available for ordering online.

We are continuing to work with the Department for Health and Social Care to further increase the number of collection sites in our area to make it as easy as possible for everyone to access twice-weekly rapid Covid-19 testing.

Collection points will be listed on the NHS find a test centre map as they become available.

North Somerset rapid Covid-19 community testing centres open at Easter

North Somerset Council’s community testing centres in Weston, Nailsea and Portishead will be open over the Easter weekend.

The centres at Hutton Moor, Scotch Horn and Somerset Hall will be open Good Friday to Easter Monday from 9am-1pm for on-site tests or drop in home kit collections.

On site tests can booked at www.n-somerset.gov.uk/rapidtesting

Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus – a new continuous cough, a temperature, or change in sense of taste or smell – should self-isolate and NOT attend these centres for testing or collection.

If you have symptoms book a test at www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-testor by calling 119.

Symptomatic Covid-19 testing

Anyone with symptoms of Covid-19 – new continuous cough, loss of or change in sense of taste or smell, or a high temperature – should self-isolate and book a test at www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-testor by calling 119. You should do this even if you think the symptoms have another cause, such as a cold or vaccination side effects.

You can get your symptomatic test at Locking Road car park, Weston-super-Mare, or Castlewood, Clevedon.

Locking Road is open seven days a week, 8am-12pm, and can be used by people arriving for their appointment on foot as well as by car. Free parking is available for those being tested.

A mobile testing unit (MTU) runs from Castlewood in Clevedon but can only accept appointments by car.

Self-isolating

Anyone who develops a new continuous cough, high temperature, or change to their sense of taste or smell must self-isolate straight away and book a symptomatic Covid-19 test at www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-testor by calling 119.

If the test is positive you will need to continue to isolate for 10 days, and your contacts will also need to start isolating for 10 days.

Self-isolating is essential in keeping the infection levels as low as possible in North Somerset.

If you need financial or practical support to self-isolate you can find information about what’s available, including details of the £500 self-isolation payment, at www.n-somerset.gov.uk/together

Easter

Our next update is due Friday 9 April.

With restrictions starting to relax and good weather forecast, you may be looking at places you can visit over the bank holiday.

Although the stay at home order will have been lifted, the government is still advising people to stay local.

Essential shops and hospitality will not be open for the Easter weekend, so plan ahead and think about what you may need while you’re out. Make flexible plans so if you arrive at your destination and find it very busy you can continue on to find a quieter spot.

By continuing to follow the health advice, to wash your hands, cover your face if you can, and make space, and by limiting your groups to six people or two households, we can unlock slowly and safely and look forward to doing more of what we love in the coming months.

We wish you all a happy Easter.

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