Marvin Rees update, 10 September

Here again with an update on Covid-19 in Bristol and what we’re doing to keep you as safe as possible. At the moment, our rate of infection is at 396 cases per 100,000 people. This compares to 418 cases per 100,000 this time last week, so it has decreased slightly, but we are plateauing. Cases have levelled off at about 300 per day with fluctuations in the infection rate. Our infection rates remain high. The virus is circulating widely in the city and in the background, so we are still vulnerable. The England rate stands at 325 cases per 100,000, so you can see we’re still above that rate. In our hospitals, we have 99 people with unwell with COVID-19 at the moment. The vaccines have weakened the relationship between catching the virus and hospitalisation, but the connection is still there. And our rates of numbers of people in hospital have increased. So be aware, please do. So we’re encouraging you to continue to wear face covering unless you’re exempt, particularly important on public transport in crowded areas where you may come into close contact with frontline workers. Small acts like this are critical in stemming the spread of the virus but they also send a message about you caring for people around you. And I think particularly of those retail workers. So many people come through a shop every day, so just wearing a mask just shows that you care about them too. So please bear that in mind.

There are lots of festivals on at the moment across Bristol and the south west. So we encourage you to take lateral flow tests – that’s the rapid tests – before and after you attend. If you come back and you’re unwell with symptoms of COVID-19, please self-isolate immediately and book a PCR test. It’s important you don’t go into work or see friends when you’re unwell. That reduces the risk of spreading coronavirus or other illnesses. Do bear in mind, COVID-19 is obviously what we’re talking about, but the risk of of other viruses sweeping and picking up pace in autumn into the winter is very, very real.

On the vaccination front, as of Wednesday (8 September) 293,000 – that’s 67 per cent of people over the age of 16 – in Bristol had been fully vaccinated. That compares to the England average for fully vaccinated population at 72 per cent. So we’re still below that England average. We have to keep pressing forward with the messages and support to make sure people get their vaccinations. From Thursday (11 November) if you are required to enter a care home as part of your professional responsibilities, you will need to show evidence of vaccination or exemption unless you are under the age of 18. This means you’ll need to receive your first dose by next Thursday (16 September) at the latest to give you that eight-week period to get your second dose. Roles this could also affect include funeral directors, hairdressers, food delivery drivers and maintenance. So a full list of those people who do and don’t need to provide evidence can be found on the government website (gov.uk). If you haven’t had your vaccination yet, it’s not too late. Visit www.grabajab.net to find out how to book or where your nearest walk-in vaccination clinic is.

People have been going back to our museums and libraries. If you have plans to visit one of them, we encourage you to continue with key behaviours while visiting. Wear a face covering unless you’re exempt, give people space, don’t visit if you’d have COVID-19 symptoms, book PCR tests regularly, check in using the NHS Test and Trace app. Again, they help us stem the spread of the virus and they show people you care. Please continue to do all you can to protect yourselves and keep others safe, including our front-line workers. Be kind and respectful towards each other. Be gracious. If people ask you to put a covering on and keep your distance, graciousness is what we need at the moment. There are lots of people out there who are really worried. That person themselves may have a health vulnerability, or they may be going home to someone with a health vulnerability and don’t want to pick up the virus and take it home for them. So please bear that in mind, in your interactions with other people. Okay, we all have a part to play. Have a good day, keep yourself safe and be well.