Thursday, 21 January 2021

South Oxfordshire to stay tier 2 while Berkshire and Buckinghamshire move to tier 3

BREAKING: South Oxfordshire will stay tier 2 while Berkshire and Buckinghamshire move to tier 3

HENLEY and most surrounding villages will remain in tier 2 under coronavirus restrictions, the Government announced this morning.

However, villages in Berkshire and Buckinghamshire, which includes Wargrave, Remenham, Sonning, Charvil, Hurley, Fawley, the Hambleden valley and Medmenham have moved into tier 3. 

The move, confirmed by health secretary Matt Hancock, is in response to the rising infection rates in these areas.

Those living in the higher tier cannot socialise with other households indoors or outdoors while pubs, restaurants and cafes may only serve takeaways.

Indoor entertainment and tourist venues must close, even in a mostly outdoor setting.

In all tiers, people are encouraged to minimise travel and work from home where possible. Personal care, including hairdressing, and leisure facilities including gyms are permitted in all three.

Since the start of the pandemic, Buckinghamshire has had 474 coronavirus deaths while Reading has had 198 and Wokingham has had 183.

In Henley and surrounding villages, there were 170 new cases of the virus in the last week.

The total number of cases in South Oxfordshire since the start of the pandemic has risen by 400 to 2,078 while the number of deaths has increased by three to 76.

The infection rate in the district has increased to 1,462.8 cases per 100,000 of the population, from 1,181. 

Ansaf Azhar, Oxfordshire County Council’s director for public health, said residents should remain cautious despite the county remaining in tier 2.

He said: “Christmas is now close. It is a time for enjoyment, but we need to adapt so that we can enjoy ourselves without giving covid-19 the chance to join the party.

“We have seen that this virus thrives on human contact - the rules exist to stop it spreading.

“Tier 2 status reflects our current situation locally, but in the past seven days alone cases have increased by almost 50 per cent in Oxfordshire.

“So we’re far from out of the woods and we could easily find ourselves in tier 3 in the new year unless we take care now.

“We have seen that our neighbours in Buckinghamshire and Berkshire have been moved to tier 3.

“That is a clear warning. Covid-19 will not be taking a break for Christmas.” 

The first coronavirus jabs were administered in Henley yesterday.

Almost 1,000 elderly patients from the town’s Hart and Bell surgeries, Nettlebed surgery and Sonning Common Health Centre were among the first to receive their initial dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. 

Councillor Jason Brock, leader of Reading Borough Council, said the Government’s decision will “inevitably cause further hardship and anxiety”. 

He said: “We know our local increasing infection rates across all age groups is due to household transmissions.

“Our rate of infection over the last seven days is 221.9 per 100,000 people which is the highest it has been during this second wave of covid-19.

“The size of the pandemic in Reading is increasing by between 33 per cent and 50 per cent every week and now of everyone who goes for a test, 6.1 per cent get a positive result, whereas in August this was just one per cent.

“It is now more important than ever we all stick to the guidelines in what is a critical time in the run up to possibly visiting elderly or vulnerable family when restrictions are currently planned to be temporarily lifted for five days over the Christmas period.” 

Wokingham Borough Council issued an alert to residents warning them of the move.

The weekly case rate in Wokingham is 185.8 per 100,000 people.


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