Christina Gray update, 1 April

The current case rate in Bristol today is 53 cases per 100,000. This is lower than the England average, which is 56 per 100,000, which is really excellent news. However, this is slightly higher than last week, where we had 43 per 100,000, and we’re currently seeing a small percentage daily increase. We’re watching this very closely. It is very pleasing that the number of people in hospitals has also reduced. There are currently 46 people in our local hospitals with COVID-19. This is a vast improvement from a number of weeks ago. Our vaccination programme in Bristol is going extremely well. The current focus is on those people who are over 50, people who are clinically vulnerable, and health and social care workers. To date, over 160,000 people in Bristol have received one or two doses of the vaccine. That’s just under 40 per cent of the over 16 population. But the coming months are exceptionally important. None of us are safe until we’re all safe. So as restrictions lift – and even if you have been vaccinated – it’s important that you continue to practice COVID safe behaviours. Cover your face, wash your hands and create space. The risk of transmission is much reduced outside and I would really encourage you to open your windows, ventilate inside as much as possible and enjoy the outside. We do have a bank holiday coming up and I know that many of you will be planning to meet with family and friends over the Easter holiday weekend. So do try to get outside. But remember, please keep to the rule of six people or two households and there should be no indoor mixing. Keep your distance from other people when you meet. Wash your hands regularly and often and wear a face covering when you’re out and about, for example, if you’re queuing for a coffee in a park. If it’s busy, try to find some quiet spots. The next step we’ve taken has only been made possible thanks to everyone’s efforts and in following the guidance. We need to take this roadmap slowly, one step at a time. That’s the best chance we have of getting back to the things that we love. For those of you who have been shielding, the government shielding programme ended on 31 March. This means that people who have been shielding because they’re clinically extremely vulnerable are no longer being asked to stay at home. I know that shielding has not been easy for many people. But I’m also aware that this changing guidance may make many people feel anxious. If you’ve been supported by volunteers over the past year, your volunteers can work with you to help you regain your independence and your confidence. And if you’ve got any ideas or suggestions as to what would help you or others, please do talk to your volunteer, the volunteer who supports you, or let us know via the We Are Bristol website (wearebristol.co.uk). There are things you can do, if you’ve been shielding, to take extra care. Choose quiet times to get your fresh air when you go out to shops or the pharmacy and keep your distance when meeting up with others. And if you need any help or support, we’re here for you and you can call free the we are prestart helpline on 0800 694 0184. And finally, testing remains very important in helping us identify where COVID-19 is in our communities. If you’re unwell you should book a test through the national booking system or through the 119 number. But we do have rapid asymptomatic testing available through many avenues now – through schools, through care homes and through workplaces. And we also have our local community rapid testing programme. So if you wish to access rapid testing and can’t through any other means you’re invited to use the Bristol rapid testing centre or our collect sites. Please see the Bristol City Council website (www.bristol.gov.uk) for details about this. Thank you very much and wishing you all a very good bank holiday weekend.

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