COVID-19: National lockdown now in place

Plymouth residents must now stay at home as the Government introduces new national lockdown.

The measures announced on Monday evening mean that from now everyone should stay at home, with the exception of specific reasons, such as essential shopping, to work if you cannot work from home, to exercise and to seek medical help.

Primary and secondary schools must move to remote learning from Tuesday 5 January until February half term, except for vulnerable children and those of critical workers. Parents should check with schools to confirm arrangements.

Shops selling non-essential goods have to close apart from those providing click and collect services.

Anyone who is clinically extremely vulnerable is being advised to begin shielding again and will receive a letter explaining what they need to do.

People are being told follow the new rules from now, before they become law in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Councillor Tudor Evans, leader of the Council and chair of the Plymouth Local Outbreak Engagement Board, is urging Plymouth residents to get behind the new measures to save lives and protect the NHS in Plymouth.

He said: “Plymouth residents have so far done a great job in helping stop the virus spreading and as a result, our rates are much lower than most of the rest of England. The virus still poses a huge risk though – particularly as we now have a new variant that spreads even more easily – and we must all pull together to ensure Plymouth does not end up with the very high infection rates and hospital pressures that other areas are experiencing.

“I know people in Plymouth will get behind these latest national measures and do the right thing to save lives and protect the NHS.

“As a council, we will continue to do whatever we can to support Plymouth businesses and protect jobs, as well as support the most vulnerable in our community who are now being asked to shield. We will also not let up in lobbying the Government for the support that Plymouth businesses need to keep going and for schools to get the help they need to ensure the safety of their staff and pupils when they reopen.”

Ruth Harrell, Director of Public Health for Plymouth, said: “These new measures are necessary as there is an urgent need to get the spread of the virus under control. The new variant spreads even more easily and this has been resulted in the rapid increase in cases in the south east.

“In Plymouth we have seen our rates increase again recently but we currently have a significantly lower rate of cases than many other parts of the country. This is likely to change without the measures that are being put in place. We must make the most of them to stop the virus spreading around our community.

“To do that we need to stick with the measures that are in place to save lives and protect the NHS. It’s about doing the right thing and not seeing if you can get away with pushing the rules. This is particularly important as one in three people who has the virus does not have symptoms so could be spreading it wherever they go without knowing it. The best way of protecting yourself and others is to act as if you have the virus and everyone else also has the infection.

“I know we are all tired of the restrictions and the disturbance to our lives but we do need to keep up our efforts until the vaccine is rolled out across our community.”