Leader statement on current COVID-19 situation - 19 August 2020
Cllr Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council, has urged everyone to pull together to ensure the city tackles the threat posed by rising coronavirus case numbers.
In a statement, Cllr Ward said:
“The rise in case numbers, although not currently on the scale seen elsewhere in the country, is extremely concerning – we all need to wake up to the severity of the current situation.
“Many people have stories of tragedy relating to their family and friends since the onset of COVID-19. We’ve all made sacrifices over the past five months to tackle its devastating impact, and that is what was helping bring the issue under control here in Birmingham.
“Most people are still doing the right things – the basics such as handwashing, wearing face coverings in the appropriate places and keeping 2m apart wherever possible.
“We all need to keep doing this. I understand that lockdown fatigue has inevitably set in for some and that the easing of restrictions means it is easy to take your eye off the ball.
“But we have to remain focussed. If we are forced to go back to the dark days of spring it will be because we haven’t collectively done our bit for the greater good of the city.
“It will set our already-fragile economy back and that could mean more job uncertainty and further struggles to make ends meet for many.
“A local lockdown could also mean some of those freedoms and liberties that we have begun to enjoy again are ripped from our grasp. We don’t want a situation where people cannot see their loved ones in care homes (as many already cannot do) or not go to their favourite restaurant.
“Nobody wants to have to wait in a lengthy queue at their local supermarket or not be able to use all of the facilities in their local park.
“Going into the next stage of restrictions will also probably mean an end to households meeting indoors, severely restricting our ability to socialise as we would like to.
“There is a risk this could all happen again if we don’t push back against the rise in Birmingham’s coronavirus cases.
“As a council, we will continue working with our partners in the NHS and other emergency services to do everything we can to halt the spread.
“We have to carry on boosting the rates of testing. They have been heading in the right direction, but if you feel unwell with one of the key symptoms or contacted by Test and Trace, it is your interests and that of anyone you come into contact with to take a coronavirus test.
“There is a role here for our colleagues in central government just as much as there is for the council or the people of Birmingham, and we will continue putting the city’s case forward. In particular we are asking government to provide more walk-in and drive-in test centres across the city so that it is as easy as possible for people to get a test. We are also asking government to increase access to tests in other locations, such GP surgeries.
“In the meantime, Birmingham will be one of the first councils in the country to pilot a ‘drop and collect’ testing service for those residents who are finding it difficult to leave their home to get a test.
“Nobody should feel forced into going to work when they could be risking many other people because they are struggling to pay their bills and we are lobbying government to ensure people are properly supported financially if they are ill or while they are self-isolating.
“Ultimately, there is a role for everyone here. Now is the time to step up and all do our bit for Birmingham, like never before.”