Bradford Council issued the following statement in response to the Government announcement made on 22 February 2021 to changes to COVID-19 restrictions.
Bradford District Council Leader, Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, said: “We are all keen for a relief from the restrictions which we have been living with for so long. I look forward to the day when we’ll, once again, be able to socialise and mix freely with family and friends. We have been through so much here in Bradford, but I’m keen to make sure that we don’t let up in the efforts we are all making to keep the infection down. It is going to take time for the vaccine to have its full positive effect.
“We are still working through the detail of today’s announcement, in particular we need to know how testing will be organised in schools. We wait to see further detail from the Government on this. We also need greater re-assurance from the government of the additional support that will be made to our local businesses. Many of our local businesses, especially those in the leisure and hospitality sector, are facing a huge struggle financially through no fault of their own. If lockdown is set to continue for these businesses then we strongly urge the Government to use next week’s budget to be clear with businesses on the urgent additional support packages that will be necessary.
“Inevitably vaccinating the whole country is going to take time so the Government must properly resource the Test, Trace and Isolate strategy which keeps the infection from escalating. That means that in the short term greater support is required for people to self-isolate to reduce transmission of COVID-19. The existing discretionary grant funding made to local authorities should match the level of demand. The discretionary scheme is particularly important for low income workers in jobs with an increased risk of transmission, such as drivers or people on zero-hours contracts and agency staff.”
Sarah Muckle, Director of Public Health, said: “A huge amount of work is happening to reduce infection rates in our district but we need the tools to do this. We need sufficient stocks of PCR tests to ensure that our doorstep testing programme can continue to identify asymptomatic individuals, particularly in areas of low testing uptake and high prevalence of COVID-19. Greater support should also be provided to make sure that, once someone has tested positive, effective contact tracing can reduce the risks of further transmission.
“We also need sufficient stocks of vaccine from Government to be able to deliver vaccinations at pace – not only to the current priority groups but also to have the flexibility to vaccinate other groups of people identified, through our detailed knowledge of our communities, as being in particular need. Even if you’ve had both doses of vaccine that shouldn’t be taken as a green light to start going out more or socialising. The long-standing maxim of wash hands, cover face and leave space is still as important as ever. The vaccines are not 100% effective and you can still pass COVID-19 on to someone who hasn’t been vaccinated.”
Iain MacBeath, Strategic Director for Health and Wellbeing, said: “Our care homes across the district have been working tirelessly over recent months to make sure that residents and staff are as safe and protected as possible during this pandemic. We are committed to putting in place all the right procedures so homes will be able to implement the changes announced today. We want our residents to be able to meet their loved ones but in an environment that is safe for them, their relatives and our staff.”
Mark Douglas, Strategic Director of Children’s Services, said: “Our staff are already working with head teachers and our colleagues in public health to make sure that schools have the right support and the best procedures in place. We will be working together to implement the measures announced today so that when schools reopen, they are able to do so in a way that is as safe as possible for pupils and staff. Schools will be supported to review their risk assessments, in line with the expected new guidance from the DfE, and will let parents know what plans will be in place to welcome children back to school safely from 8 March.”