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Council Leader says good news about vaccines is no time to relax

Published Monday 7 December, 2020
Last updated on Monday 7 December, 2020

The Leader of Swale Council says that whilst the news of vaccines against coronavirus is welcome, now is not the time to relax.

Cllr Roger Truelove, leader of the council, said:

“With the promise of these vaccines we can look forward to a better year in 2021, but we still have to get through a very difficult winter for the health of us all, and for the protection of the NHS.

“With lockdown concluded and people shopping for Christmas, it is as vital as ever to observe social distancing and to wear face coverings when near to each other.

“Delivering on a vaccine programme will be a challenge for government and we will need patience.

“Just as we have had to be patient about the introduction of mass testing for asymptomatic carriers. We have been pressing for this for weeks but it is in the hands of KCC, as our public health authority, and requires careful logistical planning with the military. I expect the programme to start in the very near future.

“We are now in tier 3 of the restrictions determined by Government and supported by parliament. I believe it is right that all of Kent is in the same tier. It is not appropriate to focus so persistently on infection levels in some north Kent districts. The essential consideration is the impact on our general hospitals from the total infection rates for Kent, and the impact is growing more and more critical.

“The data on infection rates does begin to show a slowdown in Swale and reports of it declining. It is not a league table, and I am sure all of us in Swale resent some media articles that try to blame us and Thanet for the tier restrictions throughout Kent.

“Whilst tier 3 allows both our essential and non-essential retailers to trade, this is a hard time for pubs and hospitality. Given that some supermarkets have been shamed into returning some of the business grant money they received, I hope the Government will find a way to divert some of this to the most affected industry.

“We are continuing to do everything we can to stop the spread of this virus, but this isn’t something we can do by ourselves. We are working with our partners such as Kent County Council, Public Health England, Kent Police, the NHS and the voluntary sector, to help make sure people understand the new rules, businesses are complying with them and we are supporting those who need our help.

“We have recently begun working with Kent County Council to support NHS Test and Trace to help them contact those who have tested positive so they can self-isolate.

“We are also administering business grants to try to support local firms, as well as the self-isolation grant, and we will soon be rolling out a winter grant to support local residents facing hardship during the pandemic.

“We all want this to be over, and it is in all of our power to achieve this. We can minimise the impact of the pandemic, if we all do our bit. We need to wear our face coverings when we should, keep washing our hands, maintain social distance from those not in our household, get a test if we have any symptoms and self-isolate when told to do so.

“If we all do this, the number of cases will fall, and the pressure on our NHS will reduce. This is the quickest path to the easing of restrictions and for keeping each other safe.”

For information on the council’s work during the pandemic, visit www.swale.gov.uk/coronavirus.