Kent County Council leader Roger Gough says four crucial actions will lift Kent out of Tier 4 measures
With the new Covid variant that spreads more quickly, and Europe closing its borders leading to Operation Stack and Brock, Cllr Gough has outlined his plans to make 2021 a better year.
Speaking today, he said it is imperative that businesses and residents of Kent work together to ensure the safety of our community and the lifting of tier four restrictions at the earliest possible opportunity.
He said: “I know the devastating impact that these new restrictions have brought to not only residents but businesses across the county, and it is my responsibility as leader of Kent County Council to do everything I can to help us out of the situation we find ourselves in.
“There are four crucial actions that will help us get out of tier four restrictions – following the guidelines; asymptomatic testing; contact tracing and enforcement.
“We have launched asymptomatic testing in Swale and Thanet, inviting key-workers in those areas to get tested.
“This will continue throughout December and an expansion plan is underway for a further 12 sites across the county in the coming weeks.
“Rapid testing will be open to the public as soon as is practically possible, and combined with additional resources in contact tracing, KCC will be able make significant strides in identifying and containing the virus across the county.
“Our Kent local tracing partnership, supporting the national Test and Trace service to locate residents who’ve tested positive for Covid-19, continues, and we will be stepping up activity in January.”
Enforcement plays another key part in KCC’s plan, with responsibility for adherence across the business community.
Trading Standards will continue to help and advise local businesses on Covid regulations, taking enforcement action where necessary.
The county’s residents are also asked to play their part, adhering to the new tier four restrictions to reduce infections, protect the NHS and safely reduce restrictions in Kent.
Mr Gough added: “I appreciate the fatigue people will feel as we enter the ninth month of Covid restrictions, especially at Christmas.
“Community transmission continues to be the main cause for figures above the national average in all Kent districts, and it is crucial that residents follow social distancing guidelines and observe the tier four restrictions over the festive period to stay safe and ensure the county’s hospitals can cope.”
A new campaign called ‘Don’t be the reason’ is now being launched, with messages coming directly from residents on why they think people are and are not complying with Covid-19 restrictions.
The responses to the KCC survey, held earlier this month about compliance, found people were confused, mistrustful or were tired of current messaging, to concerns that people were being complacent and inconsiderate.
A lack of enforcement and conspiracy theorists were also highlighted by respondents as reasons that people might not be complying with the restrictions and guidelines.
The campaign, along with the asymptomatic testing, contact tracing and enforcement are all aimed at reducing the positive rates across the county. In addition there is the vaccine being rollout to care homes and elderly residents.
The Kent Together helpline and webpage remain open for anyone in the county who is struggling during the pandemic.
Any Kent resident who requires support with accessing food, or who has any other urgent needs, visit www.kent.gov.uk/kenttogether or call 03000 419292 at any time.
Latest government data (published December 22 and displaying the rate for the week up to December 17), shows the figure for Thanet stands at 633.4 per 100,000.
The data shows 120 new positive cases reported for Thanet today (December 22) making a seven day total of 875, up 34.4% on the preceding seven days. A total of 6206 positive tests have been recorded for Thanet.
The total number of people recorded who have died within 28 days of testing positive for Coronavirus as of 21 December was 219 (loss of life within 28 days of a positive test). Covid-19 is mentioned on the death certificate but may not be the primary cause of death.