Banbury area residents urged to continue following lockdown rules as pupils return to school this week

'It’s crucial that we continue the great progress we have made by following government rules for each roadmap stage. We are still in lockdown.'

Friday, 12th March 2021, 2:08 pm
Updated Friday, 12th March 2021, 2:10 pm
Banbury area residents urged to continue following lockdown rules as pupils return to school this week

Residents in Oxfordshire are being reminded that they should continue to follow national regulations and take part in any symptom-free testing scheme they can as the country enters the first part of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown.

Changes this week to lockdown measures include schools and colleges opening to all students and residents in some care homes being allowed a nominated visitor.

Reported new cases of Covid-19 in Oxfordshire are now below a rate of 50 per 100,000 population – putting the county in a great position to support children returning to school this week.

Ansaf Azhar, Oxfordshire County Council’s Director of Public Health, said: “We are seeing cases now falling across all age groups in the county, which is really reassuring to see. This puts us in an excellent position as the government begins to implement its roadmap out of lockdown.

“Seeing young people finally able to return to school is an incredibly reassuring first step. It’s been clear that the pandemic has had a tremendous impact on young people, with both their mental wellbeing and their learning impacted by not being at school.

“Although there are now additional steps in place to protect teachers, other school staff, young people and their families, such as testing, I must remind residents that it is inevitable that, with schools going back, it is likely that we will see a small spike in cases once more. It’s crucial that we continue the great progress we have made by following government rules for each roadmap stage. We are still in lockdown.

“This includes not mixing with households – apart from meeting with one other person outside for socially distanced exercise, staying at home apart unless absolutely necessary, including to continue to work from home where possible, and adhering to all the guidance around washing our hands, keeping our distance from others and wearing a mask.

"Even if you have had your vaccination, you must remember that you need two doses to receive the maximum protection against the virus, and you may still be able to pass the virus onto loved ones and those around you who may not have had it.

“Testing remains crucial in our fight against Covid-19. You should continue to make use of any symptom-free testing programme you are eligible for – through your school, workplace, our symptom-free testing facilities, or the government’s home testing scheme to protect yourself and those around you.

“If we let our guard down now, it could be all too easy for cases to rise sharply once more, as we saw back in the autumn. A third wave is still possible if we let our guard down too soon. With vaccinations continuing at such speed, we are so close now, and we can all do our bit to get us over that line.”

To support the return to school, the government is encouraging all households with primary and secondary school and college-aged children and young people, including childcare and support bubbles, to start regular twice-weekly rapid lateral flow testing.

Adults in these households who are workers or volunteers in a public facing role can get tested at one of the county council’s symptom-free sites with the closest one at Spiceball Leisure Centre (Banbury). If they are not eligible for this programme, they can order tests online for home delivery.

They can also collect up to two packs of home test kits (each contains seven tests) from a Covid symptomatic site 1 - 7pm. Testing will not be taking place at these sites during these times to avoid contact with anyone with Covid-19 symptoms. The sites are open seven days a week and residents do not need to book an appointment to collect home test kits.

Home tests kits cannot currently be collected from the county council’s symptom-free testing sites. Residents should not go to one of these sites as the kits they have are not suitable for home use.

This week’s Covid-19 figures across Oxfordshire:

Cherwell 37.2 per 100,000 of the population compared to 71.8 the previous week

Oxford 30.2 per 100,000 of the population compared to 82 the previous week

South Oxfordshire 28.9 per 100,000 of the population compared to 45.8 the previous week

Vale of White Horse 35.3 per 100,000 of the population compared to 58.1 the previous week

West Oxfordshire 25.3 per 100,000 of the population compared to 26.2 the previous week.