North Somerset could be placed in higher tier after national lockdown ends

Covid-19 testing

The NHS is urging people to support stretched services as local covid-19 cases rise. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

North Somerset coronavirus rates are higher than the national average, meaning the area could be placed into a higher tier once national lockdown ends. 

North Somerset Council is planning a lockdown exit, which is due to take place on December 2. 

But with the rates of infection increasing across the area, it means it is likely that North Somerset will be placed in one of the higher levels of alert after December.

A council spokesman said: "Despite the news from Government that coronavirus cases are starting to level out nationally, we are continuing to see rates rising locally. 

"We are examining the data all the time to try to establish any patterns, but what it is telling us is that the virus is circulating generally in the community.  

"So, regardless of your age, the make-up of your household, what job you do - you have to play your part to protect yourself, your family, friends, and your community. 

"Anyone can catch coronavirus and anyone can spread it so please, be careful, follow the guidance and remember hands, face, space at all times. Together we can reverse this trend." 

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The council is working with its neighbouring councils as well as partners in the NHS, including public health, hospitals, and GPs, to plan ahead for how North Somerset will come out of the current national restrictions in place across England. 

The authority's discussions with government and its local partners suggest there may be a preference from government for the levels of alert to be decided based on the geography of the local health system, which is shared with Bristol and South Gloucestershire, meaning North Somerset could be placed in a higher tier after December 2. 

The council is waiting for guidance from government about the national plans for the tier system. 

Last week, the council received guidance and details of North Somerset’s allocation of £528,410 of the £170million national Covid Winter Grant Scheme.  

This money will be made available early next month and will cover the period from December 1 to March 31, 2021. It is intended to support those most in need across England with the cost of food, energy, heating, cooking, lighting, water bills including sewerage and other essentials. 

The aim of the scheme is to give vulnerable households peace of mind in the run-up to Christmas and over the winter months during the pandemic by helping those who need it to have food on the table and other essentials, so every child will be warm and well-fed this winter. 

Officers are working on how best to deliver this scheme locally and will be working with schools and other providers to ensure they can collectively use this money to meet the needs of families.

The council said it is seeing an increasing trend in coronavirus infections for people aged in their 60s in North Somerset. 

The latest reported figures show a sharp rise in cases in the older age group, which includes some people who are most vulnerable to complications from the disease. 

The risk of falling seriously ill due to coronavirus increases with age, and for those who have other underlying health conditions, which are also more likely in older people. 

With infections continuing to climb across all age groups, the council is asking everyone to take more care to keep those most at risk safe. 

The councils says anyone you mix with brings a risk into your household, which could be more serious if you live with elderly parents or grandparents. The authority is also urging people to follow the advice closely, avoid going into anyone else’s home and stay two metres away from those you do not live with.  

The council has also put arrangements in place to ensure that older people who contact North Somerset Together can be assessed quickly by North Somerset Council’s wellness service. In addition, it is working with the community meals team to ensure anyone in need of emergency food receives it, who have been co-ordinating with health partners to make sure people are aware of the support available through North Somerset Together when they are discharged from hospital. 

The mobile testing units at Castlewood in Clevedon and Locking Road car park in Weston will be operating seven days a week until at least Monday. Appointments can also be made on the page twice a day - once in the evening for tests the following morning and then once in the morning for tests that afternoon.