County Council welcomes Prime Minister’s latest announcement but urges caution

County Council welcomes Prime Minister’s latest announcement but urges caution

Essex County Council has welcomed today’s announcement by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who unveiled the Government’s roadmap for cautiously easing lockdown restrictions in England, including welcoming back all students to schools from 8 March.

However, with case rates in Essex still around 100 cases per 100,000 people, the Leader of Essex County Council, Cllr David Finch is urging residents not to drop their guard.

Today’s announcement makes it clear that any decisions, made while determining the roadmap for leaving lockdown, have been made with a view to balance health, economic and social factors with the very latest epidemiological data and advice.

Due to the current, relatively uniform spread of the virus across the country, restrictions will be eased step-by-step across the whole of England at the same time.

From Monday 8 March;

  • All schools and colleges in England will welcome back all students.
  • School clubs can resume.
  • Secondary school and further education students must wear masks in class as well as communal areas.
  • Recreation in a public space - such as a park - will be allowed between two people, meaning it is not just limited to exercise.
  • New rules will also allow each care home resident in England to have one regular visitor.
  • The stay at home order will remain in place, meaning that people must stay in their local area.

From Monday 29 March:

  • Outdoor gatherings of either six people or two households will be allowed including in private gardens.
  • Outdoor sports facilities such as tennis or basketball courts will reopen and organised adult and children's sport, such as grassroots football, will also return.
  • The stay at home order ends, however people are encouraged to stay local wherever they can.
  • People should work from home wherever possible.

Cllr David Finch said: “While today’s announcement is welcome news and certainly a step in the right direction, I must ask everyone to please remain cautious. We are not out of the woods yet, and we must not undo all the sacrifices everyone has made over the past year.

“Our case rates are still around 100 cases per 100,000 people, and we still have some work to do at getting these figures down.

“I am sure many parents and carers are breathing a sigh of relief today with the announcement that all children will now be able to attend school, however there will be many who are anxious or worried about sending their children.

“I would like to reassure parents and carers that all of our schools will continue to work exceptionally hard to create Covid-secure environments by following the Public Health England and Department for Education advice and guidance, in preparation for the full return in two weeks time.

“We would ask parents and carers to also play their part. Please adhere to your school’s policies, including isolating at home should your child have any symptoms and of course please adhere to social distancing guidelines while on the school run.

“We understand how hard this past year has been for everyone, however today’s announcement shows us that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I am hopeful that by following the Government’s roadmap, and by working together to adhere to the guidelines, we begin to see a return to a more normal way of life in the very near future.”

The Prime Minister’s full announcement, including details of what will be allowed beyond 29 March, can be found here.

Last updated 22 February 2021