Oxfordshire people urged to abide by national lockdown rules as the fight against COVID continues

Steep rises throughout the country including a doubling of cases in Oxfordshire in the space of a fortnight has prompted the government to place the nation into a third lockdown from 5 January.

National lockdown restrictions announced by Government mean people in Oxfordshire and elsewhere must stay at home to help contain the virus. In the last week alone the number of cases increased by 64% and this follows a substantial increase in the week prior to that. The number of cases in the over 60s have more than doubled in the last week.

Ansaf Azhar, Oxfordshire County Council’s Director for Public Health, said: “The number of cases both locally and nationally have risen hugely during December and people are once again being asked to stay at home. The new variant of COVID-19 spreads extremely quickly and these rules are being applied for our own safety and protection. We have had some good news as regards the Oxford vaccine but in coming weeks it’s important that we keep up the discipline of abiding by the rules.

“We have seen how aggressively the virus spreads and during 2020 as a whole we have seen that this virus thrives on human contact. We clearly still have some very difficult times to get through before the vaccine begins to make a significant impact on COVID-19.

The quick move to a further national lockdown is a stark warning that we need to be extra vigilant. I would urge people to take personal responsibility as individuals and families throughout the coming weeks to give ourselves a chance of containing the virus and clearing a path for the vaccine. It is great news that the vaccine made in Oxford has now become the second in circulation in the UK. However this is precisely the time of year when viruses thrive and we must be on our guard.

“I would urge everyone to protect themselves, the communities in which they live and therefore the NHS as we progress through the early days of 2021.”

Current cases

The number of cases in Oxfordshire up to January 1 was:

  • Cherwell 756.1 per 100,000
  • West Oxfordshire 403.1 per 100,0000
  • South Oxfordshire 538.5 per 100,000
  • Vale of White Horse 387.5 per 100,000
  • Oxford 469 per 100,000
  • Oxfordshire 519.2 per 100,000.

The rises have been experienced across all age groups.

What are the lockdown rules?

You must not leave or be outside of your home except where you have a ‘reasonable excuse’ and this will be the law The police can take action against you if you leave home without a ‘reasonable excuse’, and issue you with a fine

● Work - you can only leave home for work purposes where it is unreasonable for you to do your job from home, including but not limited to people who work within critical national infrastructure, construction or manufacturing that require in-person attendance

● Volunteering - you can also leave home to provide voluntary or charitable services.

● Essential activities - you can leave home to buy things at shops or obtain services. You may also leave your home to do these things on behalf of a disabled or vulnerable person or someone self-isolating.

● Education and childcare - You can only leave home for education, registered childcare, and supervised activities for children where they are eligible to attend. Access to education and children’s activities for school-aged pupils is restricted.

● Meeting others and care - You can leave home to visit people in your support bubble ( if you are legally permitted to form one), to provide informal childcare for children under 14 as part of a childcare bubble (for example, to enable parents to work, and not to enable social contact between adults), to provide care for disabled or vulnerable people, to provide emergency assistance, to attend a support group (of up to 15 people), or for respite care where that care is being provided to a vulnerable person or a person with a disability, or is a short break in respect of a looked-after child.

● Exercise You can continue to exercise alone, with one other person or with your household or support bubble. This should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area. You should maintain social distancing. See exercising and meeting other people.

● Medical reasons - You can leave home for a medical reason, including to get a COVID-19 test, for medical appointments and emergencies.

● Harm and compassionate visits - you can leave home to be with someone who is giving birth, to avoid injury or illness or to escape risk of harm (such as domestic abuse). You can also leave home to visit someone who is dying or someone in a care home (if permitted under care home guidance), hospice, or hospital, or to accompany them to a medical appointment.

● Animal welfare reasons – you can leave home for animal welfare reasons, such as to attend veterinary services for advice or treatment.

● Communal worship and life events - You can leave home to attend or visit a place of worship for communal worship, a funeral or event related to a death, a burial ground or a remembrance garden, or to attend a wedding ceremony. You should follow the guidance on the safe use of places of worship and must not mingle with anyone outside of your household or support bubble when attending a place of worship.

Impact on county council services

Libraries and cultural services

The Oxfordshire Museum and Oxfordshire History Centre will need to close. The county’s libraries are also closed but some will provide a limited number of services, including IT access, which must be booked, online services, home library visits and click and collect.

Registration Services

In line with national guidance the county council’s Registration Service will only be conducting wedding or civil partnership ceremonies in exceptional circumstances such as the iIlness of a couple or member of family due to attend ceremony. This would also include a military deployment at short notice, life threatening surgery or debilitating illness as well as for couples where one of them is seriously ill and not expected to recover. For citizenship please refer to the OCC website for latest information. Births and urgent Notices of Marriage and Civil Partnership will continue

Household Waste Recycling Centres

Household Waste Recycling Centres will remain open but are very busy and may close temporarily to relieve traffic congestion and to maintain social distancing. Please segregate your waste and keep 2m apart whilst on site. Abuse of site staff will not be tolerated and may result in a ban from sites.