Oxfordshire gets set to move to high COVID alert level

People in Oxfordshire are being urged to continue the good work that has helped reduce the county’s COVID cases during November when national lockdown is lifted and new local restrictions are introduced on 2 December.

Oxfordshire has been placed into the ‘high’ alert level (tier 2) by central government. This means that from 2 December:

  • People must not meet socially with anybody outside their household or support bubble in any indoor setting, whether at home or in a public place.
  • People must not meet in a group of more than six outside, including in a garden or other space.
  • Hospitality venues will be allowed to stay open until 11pm – with last orders at 10pm. However, only those that serve substantial meals can operate, and alcohol can only be served with substantial meals.
  • Non-essential shops can reopen, as can personal care businesses such as hairdressers, gyms and the wider leisure sector. All businesses and venues that reopen must ensure that COVID-secure measures are in place.

Further information is available at www.gov.uk/guidance/local-restriction-tiers-what-you-need-to-know.

The week up to 20 November saw a drop in infection rates across the county, with a total of 671 confirmed cases – an equivalent of 97 per 100,000 residents, and a decrease from 1,171 the previous week.

As before, the local COVID-Secure teams will be out and about across the county to ensure that local businesses are continuing to properly abide by the regulations, such as the 10pm last orders in pubs, bars and restaurants. All businesses and venues must operate in a COVID-secure way

The teams will be given more enforcement powers, being able to issue notices to businesses that fail to adhere to guidance. These notices will not create any new offences for businesses, but enable the teams to take more decisive action to request that businesses formally comply with COVID-secure measures, and provide them with the means to close these premises where they fail to do so, or quickly where they pose a significant risk to the public.

In the week leading up to 15 November, the COVID-secure teams across Oxfordshire carried out 69 compliance checks and issued nine written warnings to businesses.

Ansaf Azhar, the county council’s Director for Public Health, said: “I’d like to thank everyone who has adhered to the national restrictions during November. As the recent fall in COVID cases shows, by people playing their part and sticking to the rules, we can stem the spread of the virus in Oxfordshire.

“However, I must caution that this is just one week’s data and the situation could easily reverse. We can’t afford to be complacent. National lockdown may be lifting next Wednesday, but we are still in the middle of a pandemic. It’s critically important that we stick to the new local restrictions.

“With the festive season approaching, many of us will want to go out to see our friends or to hit the shops. If we do, it’s really important that we follow the guidance about keeping your distance, wearing a face covering and washing your hands regularly – it all still applies.”