Councillor Steve Jordan provides an update on lockdown in Cheltenham.
Sadly we are back in lockdown. In Cheltenham Covid cases are running at about half the national average but have increased compared to the low levels during the summer. With the increasing numbers of cases across the county it had looked inevitable for weeks that there would be a new lockdown in England. While there is now positive news about an effective vaccine it will be some time before that is widely available and with winter coming things risk getting worse before they get better.
In Wales they have come to the end of the 17 day ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown. While in England we now have something similar for 28 days. We can only hope the delay in starting this doesn’t mean we end up with more people with the illness as well as more jobs lost because businesses have to close down for longer.
A big concern is that the national track and trace system still isn’t doing what is needed to get things under control. The proportion of people contacted is actually dropping and the system seems to have been overwhelmed by the rising number of Covid cases. We have also found that where information is being fed down for local action it is sometimes too vague to be useful. This really must be sorted out during the latest lockdown.
Understandably people are fed up that this has gone on for so long but despite all the gloom there are positives. Not least of these is the work of so many pulling together to make sure no one went hungry during the recent school holidays.
The council has again geared up provide support for vulnerable groups and pay out the latest grants to support local businesses. Most business grants are based on criteria set nationally but we can adapt these to better meet local need. We will get over £2m (£20 per person) to fund this but it has to last for the next year. We want to start paying businesses as quickly as possible so will have a special cabinet meeting next week to agree the details.