Lockdown follows virus rise

Further restrictions on different households mixing were introduced in Leeds City Council area last Friday night to help curb a rise in cases of COVID-19 and keep people safe.

Wednesday, 30th September 2020, 9:37 am
Wetherby Town Hall. Picture by James Hardisty

The latest seven-day COVID-19 rate in Leeds was 98.5 per 100,000 people, with 8.4 per cent of those tested being positive and cases showing a consistent upward trend for a number of weeks.

Following detailed discussions between Leeds City Council, the government, Public Health England and partners, Leeds was named as an area of intervention, meaning extra measures were put in place to control the spread of the virus within the community.

A council spokesman explained: “Being named an area of intervention means new rules and guidance which is specifically geared towards how COVID-19 is spreading in Leeds are due to be introduced.”

People in the Leeds authority - including the Wetherby area - cannot meet or host people they do not live with in private homes or gardens unless they are in a support bubble. A support bubble is where a household with one adult joins with another household.

Residents cannot visit someone else’s home or garden even if they live outside of Leeds, unless they are in the support bubble.

People can still enter a home or garden for specific purposes, including - where everyone in the gathering lives together or is in the same support bubble; to attend a birth at the mother’s request; to visit a person who is dying; to fulfil a legal obligation; for work purposes, or for the provision of voluntary or charitable services; for education or training; childcare; to provide emergency aid; to enable one or more persons in the gathering to avoid injury or illness or to escape a risk of harm; to move house; to provide care or assistance to a vulnerable person.

Existing arrangements for access to, and contact between, parents and children where the children do not live in the same household as their parents, or one of their parents will remain exempt.

Friends and family can also still provide informal childcare for children under 14.

In addition to these restrictions, people in the Leeds council area are also being advised:

Not to socialise with people outside a support bubble, in any public venue either in Leeds or elsewhere. Examples of public venues include pubs, restaurants, cafes, shops, places of worship, community centres, leisure and entertainment venues, or visitor attractions and parks.

Not to visit care homes, other than in exceptional circumstances.

To follow all relevant transport guidance when making a journey into, within or out of the areas affected, wear a face covering on public transport and try not to share a car with those outside the household or support bubble.

Restrictions will be continually monitored and reviewed and additional measures could be brought in.

Coun Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council said: “We are acutely aware that nobody wants to see further restrictions placed on life in Leeds and alongside our partners we have been doing absolutely everything within our power to avoid that.”

Coun Blake added: “But the safety of the city and the public simply has to come first and we have now reached a point where we all need to take additional steps to contain the spread of this terrible virus within our communities.

“How long these new measures last and how much further they may need go in the coming weeks and months will depend on everyone playing their part. We know there has already been some excellent partnership work taking place across the city and this will continue to manage outbreaks and help everyone stay safe.

“Building on that sense of community spirit, I’d appeal to everyone to follow these rules, consider the impact your actions could have on others and take your share of the responsibility for protecting our city.”

The new measures come after months of extensive work by agencies and partner groups across the city which has seen increased testing, community engagement and public awareness campaigns.

This has also been supported by work alongside the city’s universities to prepare for the imminent arrival of students to start the new university year in Leeds.

Victoria Eaton, Leeds City Council’s Director of Public Health said: “Any restrictions on seeing the people close to you are incredibly difficult to take but these rules have been put in place to protect families, friends and neighbours from a virus which is spreading at a dangerously rapid rate.

“It’s vital that we all play our part in containing that spread by sticking to the latest rules and guidance and ensuring that we don’t put ourselves or each other at unnecessary risk.”