Coronavirus is the biggest challenge the UK has faced in decades – and we are not alone. All over the world we are seeing the devastating impact of this disease.
That’s why the Government put in place strict social distancing – to slow the spread of the virus so the NHS would not be overwhelmed, and lives could be saved. And thanks to the hard work and sacrifice of the British people, and despite a tragic loss of life, the UK slowed the spread of Coronavirus. Our health system was not overwhelmed – with spare beds, ventilators, and hospital capacity at all times.
Now we must begin to recover and eventually restore our way of life – focusing on not just saving lives, but also livelihoods. Therefore, after a long period of asking the public to follow very strict and complex rules, the Government believes we are now in a position to make life easier for people to see more of their friends and family, and to help businesses get back on their feet and people back in jobs.
Alongside the easing of national restrictions, the Government has been increasingly taking local action. With our increasing testing capacity, it is now easier to spot an increase in cases in particular settings, for example a care home, factory, or hospital. In these very isolated cases, the situation will largely be dealt with by the local director of public health, who has the powers in law to close individual organisations. We have also helped local authorities to develop their own plans to control the virus in their areas, backed up by £300 million provided by the Government. This funding has allowed local authorities to develop tailored outbreak control plans, which should set out measures to identify and contain potential coronavirus outbreaks locally in places such as workplaces, housing complexes, care homes and schools.
When, however, Public Health England or the Joint Biosecurity Centre identifies multiple outbreaks that are linked to one another, that is defined as an outbreak, and a range of local and national actions may be needed. The whole efforts of the Government and Public Health England will be utilised to bring such a situation under control.
When deciding on the need for localised lockdown measures, the Government is guided by the scientific and medical advice, and will take the actions most helpful to particular incidents. The Government and its scientific advisers are closely monitoring the number and transmission of coronavirus cases around the country, and will not hesitate to act where it is needed.
As ever, the public should continue to follow the Government’s advice. Generally, this means maintaining good social distancing and hand hygiene, but if you are in an area or setting under local lockdown, further restrictions may apply. These will be communicated through a range of different mediums, and people must abide by them, in order to control the virus and save lives.
For the very latest advice and guidance, please visit gov.uk/coronavirus.