Marvin Rees update, 19 July

Hi. So from (today) 19 July, the government have lifted all legal requirements on us around COVID and asked us to take personal responsibility. This inevitably comes with lots of risk and particularly high risk for us here in Bristol. In Bristol, we have the highest rates of infection we have seen throughout the whole of this pandemic. Our rates are currently 624 per 100,000 people – they continue to rise, and they show no sign of flattening as yet. More people are catching the virus. Many more are being notified to self-isolate after being identified as close contacts. These high rates not only impact on us as individuals, and families, but also our businesses, and our NHS and health care colleagues. So we’re also seeing the impact on the leisure industry and the events and activities we want to enjoy. So I know the government are lifting the majority of legal COVID restrictions from today. So you’re no longer legally required to refrain from behaviours that increase the likelihood of COVID transmitting. But we are required to continue with these behaviours if we are interested in our own safety and that of our family, our communities, and our wider city. The risks have not gone away. So our approach in Bristol is to continue protecting each other and making this a safe city for everyone. We need to continue with the Hands, Face, Space, Fresh Air guidance we’ve been following over the last year. So I encourage you to be proactive in these behaviours. If you are out and someone asks you to cover your face, please don’t be surprised. We need to be gracious towards each other. There will be many people with real anxiety about the loosening of restrictions. If someone asks you to keep your distance, Again, please don’t be surprised and welcome people when they’re asking you to engage in behaviours that can make them feel more safe. It’s very important we don’t see this as the rights of one individual versus the rights of another individual. It is important we see this as a collective effort within Bristol to overcome COVID-19 itself and the consequences, the actions we Are taking to stem the spread of COVID-19. So our frontline workers and people with underlying health conditions are particularly at risk. They may themselves be concerned about their own health, or if they’re managing spaces, be concerned about the health of other people. Again, if they come and approach you, please be gracious to them and comply. Listen to what they have to say, even if it makes you feel put out a bit. We’re going to get through it by working together. Let’s continue to come together as a city. We’ve done incredibly well over the last 15-16 months. I think it’s been a source of real pride right across Bristol for the way we have pulled together and supported each other. I will just say, for those of you that are going back to work as well, we will be running information sessions to make sure everyone is aware of how to create a COVID-safe environment. And it is the case that under the Health and Safety at Work Act, employers do have a duty of care for employees. We’ll be working with businesses and employers over the coming weeks to make sure they are equipped to provide workplaces that are safe for both employees and customers. If you need help and support, please reach out to our We Are Bristol team using the phone number. 0800 694 0184. This is down to all of us. This is a collective effort on Bristol’s behalf. Stay safe and please be kind to each other.