New measures to keep rate of Covid infections reducing
Council Leader urges Birmingham residents to help get children back to school, while new measures to tackle business non-compliance are announced.
New measures to keep the rate of Covid infections reducing in the city will be implemented from Wednesday. Following a meeting of the Government’s Gold Command support has been given to the City Council’s proposals to proceed with a series of enhanced measures, specifically around enforcement action against those who do not follow the rules.
Much of the guidance in force at present suggests that businesses or people should do/not do certain things which are not legally enforceable. From Wednesday, a number of measures will be changed to a position where people/businesses must comply which creates a legally enforceable obligation and strengthens our position to take action where required.
This will relate primarily to the following areas:
- Restrict access to, or close, individual premises on the basis of an inadequate risk assessment or risk management, for example restaurants or bars;
- Prohibit certain types of event taking place on the basis of a maximum event size, including life events such as weddings or funerals (there is no intention to change the numbers of people that can attend different types of events under the current guidance which stands at 30);
- Restrict access to, or close, public outdoor places (or types of outdoor public places) if there is a public health need to.
Councillor Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council said: “While the recent figures show our rates are going down, we cannot be complacent. We must all continue to follow all the relevant safety guidance in order to protect our families, friends and work colleagues. Most importantly staying disciplined now is a price worth paying when compared to the cost of damaging the future life chances of our City’s children – which may happen if there is a spike in the rate of infections and schools have to close, or parents do not send them due to concerns about the potential risks . Whilst the impact of Covid-19 may be felt over the next few years, the negative impacts upon children not being present at school will last a lifetime
“Staying focused now will also support our fragile economic recovery in the long term. No one wants to see a continual ‘stop, start’ approach as to what citizens can do and where they can go, least of all our business community. Most of whom are adhering to the guidance and are doing all they can to keep our citizens safe. For those that are not we are now enacting powers to ensure that they do. These new powers will allow us to intervene when businesses are putting staff and customers at risk of infection. By all working together to take action now, we can hopefully bring the numbers down, prevent further restrictions and protect the health and jobs of people across the city.
“We want citizens to be able to feel safe when they support the local economy, so if you are eating out or just going for drinks remember the restaurant of bar should be asking for your contact details and the staff should be doing all they can to make you comfortable. If not then you can leave and make the Council aware of your concerns.”
The new powers will allow the Council and Police to investigate reports of business premises which are failing to comply with Covid-secure risk assessments.
Offending businesses could also be issued with written warning and if they continue to flout the regulations, they may be served with a notice of closure.
Businesses are reminded they must enforce Government guidelines to help prevent the spread of the virus. This includes ensuring customers and staff comply with social distancing and unless exempt, customers wear a face covering where required.
Hospitality premises should also not accept bookings for more than six people or from groups from more than two households. If unsure, businesses have the right to ask and refuse service.
Track and trace should also be enforced to make sure all customers provide their personal details in case of a positive test result whilst staff should be sent home to isolate and take a test if they show symptoms.
The Council also has a whistle blowing number for concerned members of the public to ring if they feel a business is not complying with Covid regulations. They can call 0121 303 1116 or fill in a form online https://www.birmingham.gov.uk/xfp/form/755
Birmingham is not in "lockdown". It is an "Area of Enhanced Support".
The three definitions for the national watchlist are: ‘Areas of Concern’, ‘Areas of Enhanced Support’, and ‘Areas of Intervention’.
- For ‘areas of concern’, Upper Tier Local Authorities will work with partners, supported by regional PHE and NHS Test and Trace resource, to take additional actions to manage outbreaks and reduce community spread of the virus to more normal levels. Actions taken may include additional targeted testing at high risk areas or groups, for example care homes, enhanced communications around the importance of social distancing, hand hygiene and other preventative measures, and more detailed epidemiological work to understand where clusters of the virus are occurring so that appropriate action can be taken.
- On top of this, areas deemed for ‘enhanced support’ will be provided with increased national support, capacity and oversight, including additional resources deployed to augment the local teams where this is necessary. Actions taken may include significant additional widespread testing deployed to the Upper Tier Local Authorities, national support for local recommendations put in place to manage outbreaks, and detailed engagement with high risk groups and sectors to help increase the effectiveness of testing and tracing in these areas.
- In addition, ‘Areas of intervention’ are defined where there is divergence from the lockdown measures in place in the rest of England because of the significance of the spread of COVID-19. There are a range of non-pharmaceutical interventions available to local and national leaders, from extensive communications, expanded testing, to restrictions on businesses and gatherings