Mayor of Bristol Press Conference, 2 September

Marvin Rees
On COVID, we have a total, as of this moment, of 1,504 cases confirmed cases. We’re describing the current situation in the city is a bit of a rising tide. We’ve had 42 cases over the past seven days. It puts us at about 9.1 cases per 100,000 people. When we last spoke, we were on 7.2 cases, 7.8 cases per 100,000 people. So you can see it’s, it’s slow and it’s plateau but it’s edging in the wrong direction. And as I’ve shared numerous times, it is a cause for concern but it’s not a cause for alarm. We should be concerned because we have a pandemic and we do not yet have a vaccine and the consequences of getting up around 20 cases per hundred thousand is when you really get to the government’s radar, and then moving up to 40, where some of the you know, the cities have have ended up back in lockdown. The consequences are severe, obviously, for individuals with the virus but also the economic consequences as well. So we are concerned but we’re not alarmed. Our message has being taken continue with the practices we’ve asked people to engage in. Namely, the keep up with the hygiene and keep up with the social distancing. These are incredibly important to us and we’re asking people to take responsibility.

Marvin Rees
The second area is back to school. There are a number of people start in this week, you know, in my own family we start next week, but we’re expecting 60,000 children around about there to be returning to school. We want to start by acknowledging anxiety and concern among families that may be out there. But also, that families will be desperate for children to go back to school because we know the full role that school plays; it is about education but it’s also about structure. And it’s so critical for family dynamics as well. So for parents needing to get back to work has been one of the issues that a number of the big employers have pointed out; that child care is going to be an issue of huge significance for us over the coming weeks as we try to get the economy moving. We also recognize the concerns of teachers and school staff as well. And we’ve been meeting with school leads, since the very beginning of the pandemic to; one look at the consequences of children not being in school at that point in time. Digital exclusion, educational inequalities, hunger, child safety at home, but also to begin thinking through what does that transition back into school look like? So we recognize the concerns. But we’re also at pains to point out that with our public health expertise and with our with the expertise in our schools, and obviously national guidance as well, we’ve done all within our power to minimize any risks that our children may and teachers and staff may face. And we’re also stressing the importance of children attending school during those first few days. It’s during those first few days, that the schools will really be sharing with the children how they need to be conducting themselves to keep themselves, their peers, teachers, staff, and obviously the families they go back to, as safe as possible. And we’re urging people as much as they’re able to please also for parents and carers to familiarize themselves with the school guidelines as well so they can reinforce those with the children.

Marvin Rees
On economic recovery, again, it’s just something we’re particularly obviously exercised about in the city. I mean, for our part we have done our best. Our latest numbers are that we paid 7,211 grants out to businesses. That is a total of over 92 million pounds. And 876 applications were approved for discretionary grants and over 2.4 million pounds in support aid. So as a local authority, and the team here, it’s really down to the team and the organization have worked incredibly hard to get the money out the door. But we are facing challenges coming up with a potential winter surge. The wider impacts of economic slowdown; we’ve seen the government introducing quarantines on new areas as well a number of industries, particularly aerospace as well, talking about recovery taking to 2026. So we really need to prepare, both in terms of how we try to get that government investment in our big infrastructure projects, retrofitting homes and the support programs in place around evictions and furlough, for example, to support people where they are right now. We do want to bring forward those big infrastructure investment projects so we can really reignite the economy, get our skills base lined up and make sure that the economic development that we have is as inclusive as possible. And the more planning we can do for it, the more inclusive and local we can make that economic multiplier. Okay, so please, just send to me the you know, ask me any questions you have and I’ll leave it to Saskia to broker the order.

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