Tuesday, 19 January 2021
THE Henley area is to move into the highest level of the Government's coronavirus restrictions.
Oxfordshire, which is currently in tier 2, will go up into tier 4 at one minute past midnight on Boxing Day along with Essex, Norfolk, Sussex, Cambridgeshire and Hampshire.
Residents will have to stay at home except in limited circumstances like performing essential work that cannot be done from home, buying food, taking exercise, or getting medical treatment.
They must not other people socially indoors unless they live with them or are part of a support “bubble”.
Those deemed clinically “extremely vulnerable” are advised to stay at home as much as possible and, if they cannot work from home, stay away from work and claim support.
Libraries will shut while the county's registration service will only conduct weddings and civil partnerships in exception circumstances such as illness or military deployment.
The move, which follows a “dangerous” rise in new covid-19 infections across the South East, was announced by health secretary Matt Hancock at a press conference this afternoon.
The number of cases in Oxfordshire stood at 236.5 cases per 100,000 of the population as of December 18. This represents a rise of 86 per cent since December 11.
There were 1,636 cases up to December 18 compared to 878 in the week ending December 11.
Mr Hancock said it was “absolutely vital” to act to contain the spread, adding: “We all know that 2020 has been a hard year and it's ending in this festive period which is going to be very different.”
Ansaf Azhar, Oxfordshire County Council’s director for public health, said: “We are in a very serious situation and people are once again being told to stay at home.
"The new variant of covid-19 spreads extremely quickly and these rules are being applied for our own protection. The numbers of cases across the county have risen steeply and we have also seen sharp rises in hospital admissions.
“When we compare our current situation with just a few weeks ago, we clearly see how quickly things can change and how aggressively the virus can spread if we let our guard down even a fraction.
"We have seen that this virus thrives on human contact. That seems to be even more the case with the new variant, which is 70 per cent more transmissible and is increasingly becoming the dominant strain.
“This latest announcement is a stark warning that we need to be extra vigilant.
"Unless we take responsibility as individuals and families througg the coming weeks, we risk further steep rises at the time of year when viruses thrive. This will put even more pressure on our NHS during its busiest period.
“The COVID vaccine has started to be rolled out to the over 80s and health and care staff across Oxfordshire.
"However, it will be some way into 2021 before this begins providing protection to larger numbers of the population and making a material difference.
“I therefore urge everyone to adhere to the new rules and to take every precaution. We must protect ourselves, our communities and the NHS as we enter 2021.”
Reading and Wokingham boroughs were put into tier 4 in the previous Government announcement, as were all of Berkshire and Buckinghamshire.
Oxfordshire remained in the lower tier at that stage, prompting relief from businesses who said going any higher would have had a serious impact.
For more information, visit www.gov.uk/guidance/tier-4-stay-at-home
23 December 2020
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