Marvin Rees update, 28 August

Hi. So just here to give you another update on Covid in Bristol and what we’re doing to keep you safe. So as of this moment in time we have just under 1500 cases confirmed in Bristol since the pandemic began. We but we’ve had 41 new cases in the past seven days, the numbers are fluctuating daily. But we have seen a steady increase in the number of cases per week. The regional R rate sits somewhere between 0.8 to 1.1. Remember anything above one means the virus is spreading. So everyone needs to take responsibility now. Transport hubs such as Bristol, it makes us a real asset but it also makes us an area of automatic concern; trains, buses, roads crossover in Bristol, we have service stations and airports. We just ask you to please remember to wear a face covering and practice good hygien when you’re on public transport, when you’re in transport hubs, service stations or when you’re shopping, or car sharing. This is a cause for concern. It should not be a cause for alarm if we can take action now, to keep ourselves safe.

On public gatherings, we find that most people are sticking to the guidelines. Some people, however, are beginning to act a bit irresponsibly, by gathering illegally, parties, raves, car meets. We absolutely understand people’s desire to socialise and to, you know, free themselves from the restrictions of lockdown. But we do have to do this carefully. Otherwise, we can end up near back where we started. These events are happening without any measures being put in place, without risk assessments and without necessary permissions. Where measures exist, those influenced by alcohol, drugs or anti social behavior, forget them also. So we do have to be incredibly careful. They are at great risk of spreading the virus amongst themselves, then taking it home and sharing it with others. That’s how these things spread. The police said they will deal robustly with those people who intentionally go against the regulations and put other people at risk. And you’ll know the fines are starting to ramp up as well. So for other people’s sake, for your own sake, please think carefully about what you are getting involved in.

Now, specifically on extinction, rebellion protests, so from today until Monday for the whole of the bank holiday, they’ll be holding a weekend of protest. I think they’re going on around the country. In Bristol, they’re going to be focused around the harbourfront, the Arnolfini. Prince Street Bridge has been close to traffic, they’ve blocked Prince Street Bridge, but it will still open for boats passing. And it will be open to pedestrians and cyclists. Clifton suspension bridge is also close to traffic. Again, it was a target of protest and that was decision was made in name of safety. People planning on traveling from outside the city, places like Birmingham and Swindon to Bristol, to participate in any protests: our message is you need to stay away, particularly where people are coming from areas of higher prevalence. That increases the risk of bringing the virus into Bristol to be spread amongst Bristol people. So the risk is really increased when people travel together and mix before and after events. So we need to walk this high wire act of balancing the right to protest with public safety. It is a key part of our democratic system. We recognise that and it’s one of the things that we really want to protect. I do think there’s a question on strategy and I’ve shared many times if the effort is to influence a conservative government, taking action in labour cities may not give the return on investment that’s being sought. But that’s a discussion for another day.

We are really pleased that our children will have the opportunity to go back to school next week. From the beginning their safety, the safety of our teaching staff and school staff has been at the forefront. We’ve been meeting teachers since the very beginning of lockdown to think about the consequences of lockdown on schools. Schools being closed to many children but also the transition to going back to schools as well. It is important that children do attend. Safety measures and procedures have been put in place and they will be explained to parents. Schools are available to explain more. We have put a resource together to support parents as well on www.bristol.gov.uk/backtoschool. We recognise that people may feel some anxiety; both parents carers and children. But rest assured that we have taken all measures possible in the city to minimise any risk to to our children, our teachers and our school staff. There is never no risk. Let’s be frank with you. But all we can do is minimise the risk and a lot of incredible work has gone into doing so……

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