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New England-wide lockdown: Statement from leader of Cambridgeshire County Council

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It seems strange that my New Year wishes for the people of Cambridgeshire has to come on the back of our Prime Minister’s announcement for a new national lockdown for England last night.

I know the last thing any of us wanted to face in the New Year was another lockdown. However, with this new variant accelerating infection rates nationally, we need to do more and bring this under control to give vaccines time to be rolled out.

The pandemic is relentless and I know we have all had to adapt our way of living, it’s been difficult and that was no different over the festive period - I’m very grateful to those of you who thought very carefully about not mixing with wider groups of family on Christmas Day even though you were allowed to.

Councillor Steve Count. (43837899)
Councillor Steve Count. (43837899)

I appreciate you may be frustrated and tired by a request to adhere to another national lockdown, but rates of infection are sadly rising fast here in Cambridgeshire - we’ve seen an increase of 74% in the past seven days for which we have reliable figures, which may be linked to this new and far more transmissible strain of the virus. That is why it so important we redouble our efforts to follow guidelines even more rigorously.

The government is instructing us to stay at home, leaving for just a few essential reasons. We need to do this, and on the rare occasions when we leave our home, be rigorous in observing social distancing, washing our hands and wearing a good quality mask where this is needed – in order to contain this variant, save lives and protect the NHS.

We need to help keep people safe and this latest lockdown is the next step in our fight against coronavirus. There is hope for the future as we have a vaccine which is being rolled out nationally - and I know that many people in the most vulnerable groups have already had their first dose and more will being called as the process is rolled out over the coming weeks. If you are in one of the priority groups, or someone in your family is - I would ask you to be patient. For most people they will receive a letter either from their GP or the national booking system; this will include all the information they need, including their NHS number. Some services are currently also phoning and texting patients to invite them in.

As the Prime Minister said last night, ‘if everyone plays their part by following the rules…we can steadily move out of lockdown’.

I’d like to remind Cambridgeshire residents that no-one has to be alone and support is available. We at Cambridgeshire County Council are committed to supporting schools and vulnerable families through this time, and keeping essential services like recycling centres and essential infrastructure projects going.

But more than this we can be a friendly voice on the phone, we can help you with food, medicine and essential items, and while we must protect people’s health – protecting the economy is vital too.

There is financial support available - and please, if you think you aren’t eligible for the many government funding schemes - contact our Countywide Co-ordination Hub, or your local district or City Council to check out any of the very many local schemes that we have put into operation.

Please continue to stay in touch with each other, look out for your neighbours and friends, and please remember if you are lonely or isolated or need practical support I would encourage you to phone the Countywide Co-ordination Hub on 0345 045 5219.

Please stay safe - and remember there is now the hope of a better future in the coming months.

Cllr Steve Count, Leader of Cambridgeshire County Council

For more information about the national lockdown, visit https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-lockdown-stay-at-home

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