Will it be four weeks? We need to remember our numbers as a region were close to driving us into Tier 3 anyway, so an “exit strategy” will be vital at the end of this period. I have been a strong advocate throughout of targeted action to drive down transmission of the virus. But however much support is given, people will suffer. There comes a point when our hospitals will not take any more and rapid and broad action has had to be taken.
At a personal level, the messages are even clearer now.
Hands, face, space. More important than ever if we are to get out of lockdown.
In general, you must not meet people socially. Stay at home except for specific purposes. Avoid meeting people you do not live with, except for specific purposes. When we reduce our day-to-day contact with other people, we reduce the spread of the infection.
Pubs and restaurants are closed, although can still provide takeaways, as well as all non-essential shops, leisure and entertainment venues. In line with government guidance all our libraries are now closed for browsing but are offering a Click and Collect service so you will still be able to borrow books during lockdown.
Clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) people who were asked to shield earlier in the year - from the start of the first lockdown until 1 August - are now being asked to follow new guidance from today. The full guidance can be found online here and we’ve also got information broken down into key areas - such as socialising, work, travel and care – on the Shielding page of the council’s Here2Help section.
I recognise this lockdown is to protect the NHS and allow it to continue to save lives. We can’t let Covid overwhelm our NHS and stop it being able to provide all the other services people rely on. Already, there are over 11,000 seriously ill people with Covid-19 in our hospitals and more are expected.
You can help the NHS by calling NHS 111 or visiting 111.nhs.uk, before travelling to a local Urgent Treatment Centre or A&E department if you are feeling unwell, need urgent care or are thinking about going to hospital.
If you are experiencing chest pains, or think you are having a stroke, you must call 999 straight away. If you don’t need urgent care, contact your GP.
Our experience from the first lockdown means we have much more support in place for families, individuals and businesses. Our Here2Help pages are full of useful support and advice for residents, while our Solihull for Success website is where businesses can find out about the help on offer.
Keeping schools, colleges and universities open is a welcome change to the previous lockdown. Our children and young people have suffered enough disruption already to their education in the early part of the pandemic, at least their education can continue over the coming month.
Our schools and colleges are safe places for our children and young people. I know that our educational settings have put an enormous amount of time and effort into ensuring the appropriate measures are in place to make them Covid-secure. However, it is equally important that our young people socially distance as well.
Remembrance Sunday is one of the most important, “thought-provoking” days of the year for me: the sacrifices of our service personnel, the price of our democracy. This year it will have to be different for obvious reasons. For those used to the Solihull event, I hope you will join our online commemoration service this Sunday or on Armistice Day Wednesday 11 November, rather than gather at memorials across the borough.
Despite services being allowed during the lockdown, we have decided to join the Royal British Legion in taking a more precautionary approach. We have pre-recorded the normal outdoor service in Solihull town centre, which will be available on YouTube from Sunday, allowing you to join in with the service and the two minutes’ silence safely in your own home from 10.55am.
I was also really impressed with the new poppy road markings that we have put down on the roads at our remembrance sites. They are a simple and striking reminder for us all. I am hoping that in staying safe and distant from each other, we will find a way to commemorate those who have lost and suffered. We will remember them.
While we pause our economic recovery the Solihull Town Centre Masterplan will be discussed at tonight’s Cabinet meeting. Working with all the town centre stakeholders we have developed a plan that we hope will ensure Solihull town centre continues as a vibrant retail and business centre into the future.
In the current circumstances it is hard to think further than the end of the pandemic, but now is the time to think about how the Council can be an active partner in securing the future prosperity of the town centre.
Finally, on Monday 9 November we will be launching our Cycling and Walking Strategy consultation. I hope everyone will contribute, as we all need to start thinking about how we can walk/cycle more, move closer to a zero carbon economy and #WM2041 ambitions, and what the Council can do to support these changes.
Keep well, keep positive and continue doing the right thing for Solihull.
Councillor Ian Courts, Leader of Solihull Council, 5 November 2020