Play it safe and keep Oxfordshire open

Oxfordshire residents are being reminded of the basic COVID-19 safety rules and asked to ‘play it safe and keep Oxfordshire open’ as the county adjusts to reduced restrictions in line with the government’s roadmap.

People are being advised to continually keep their distance, wear face coverings, wash their hands and use hand sanitiser while out and about at shops, hairdressers, pubs and other outlets.

Ansaf Azhar, Oxfordshire County Council’s Director of Public Health, said: “We’ve all seen the media images and footage of people outside pubs, queuing up, looking for bargains in shops and having their hair cut. The Easter break has provided the opportunity for many to meet up with family and friends and enjoy the sunshine. However, a small minority has not done this safely or followed the basic rules that keep people as safe as possible.

“We are acutely aware that people will have heard us urge people to wear face coverings, keep a safe distance and wash their hands many, many times over the last year. The reason we keep doing that is because those behaviours are the foundation of what keeps COVID at bay.

“COVID is a respiratory virus – the closer you are to people the more the chance you have of contracting COVID. If you keep your distance and wear a mask it helps stop that process occurring. Being outdoors also drastically reduces the risk. We need to play it safe if we are to keep Oxfordshire open and consolidate the progress we’ve seen in recent weeks.

“If you want to go to the shop or sit outside the pub, the way to do that safely is by abiding by the rules. That applies whether you are young or old, whether you have or have not been vaccinated and whether you have already had COVID or not. With new variants being reported and surge-testing having taken place elsewhere in England, the need to play it safe becomes ever more obvious.

“COVID is still here. The number of new cases has declined due to lockdown and the vaccination programme but the virus has not disappeared and neither, therefore, has the risk. We all know from last winter how quickly case rates can rise to a dangerous level. That means that while things have become closer to normal this spring, they are not normal as we knew it before March 2020.

“By all means enjoy the fact the rules have been relaxed but do so safely by remembering the basics. If you act like we’ve boarded a time-machine and gone back to 2019, you have a much higher chance of catching COVID and passing it on to your family – it really is that simple.”

The latest COVID case rates across Oxfordshire are 21.1 per 100,000. The rates in individual districts are:

Cherwell 27.2

Oxford 29.5

South Oxfordshire  12

Vale of White Horse  19.1

West Oxfordshire  15.4