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Executive Leader Cllr Brenda Warrington

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Councillor Brenda Warrington, Executive Leader of Tameside Council

New Social Distancing Measures for Greater Manchester

Tuesday, 04 August 2020


Over recent days we have seen a rise in new cases of coronavirus in nine of the ten local authority areas in Greater Manchester, including Tameside. While the levels in Tameside are lower than in some other areas, an increase is still concerning enough for action to be taken.

This has led to the announcement of new social distancing measures to bring the rate of infection back under control. The full guidelines are available from the government’s website here, but the key instructions to follow include not meeting up with people from a different household inside a home or garden, not meeting outdoors in groups of more than six, and to continue hygiene measures such as wearing face covering and thorough hand washing whenever necessary. The Greater Manchester Strategic Coordination Group, which is responsible for bringing together organisations across the city region to organise our joint response to the pandemic, has also declared a “Major Incident”. This will allow us, working in partnership with health services, local authorities and community groups across Tameside and Greater Manchester, to access the resources we need to respond to the ongoing situation as quickly and efficiently as possible.

We knew from the beginning that the coronavirus pandemic was not going to go away quickly, and the reintroduction of some lockdown measures on a local or regional scale was always a possibility. These new rules have been put in place to protect ourselves and those around us, and the more that we stick to them the sooner they will be lifted.

 

While these measures are absolutely necessary, I must also say that I have been disappointed in the way that they’ve been communicated by the government. Any response to an increase in coronavirus infection can only be effective if it is broadcasted quickly and clearly. The announcement of the new guidelines was put out on Twitter at 9pm on Thursday night, with the full details put up online at midnight on the same day. That is not how important messages like this should be publicised, especially as the people who are most likely to be severely affected by coronavirus are also the least likely to get their news from social media. A formal press conference broadcast on TV, radio and online, like the ones we had every day for several months at the height of the pandemic, would have allowed the measures to be explained to a far wider audience. I am also deeply concerned that the lifting of the shielding policy, a number of enhanced measures to protect those considered “extremely clinically vulnerable”, went ahead as scheduled on 1 August. How can we be telling people on the one hand that the rising rate of coronavirus infections requires new social distancing measures, while on the other hand saying that it is safe for those most at risk to end shielding? I echo the calls made by Mayor Andy Burnham and others that the shielding guidance and emergency support such as food deliveries should remain in place in Greater Manchester until the current situation is resolved. We may very well end up counting the cost in lives if not.   

I am so proud of the way that our Tameside communities have responded to the pandemic so far. We have asked for, and you have given us, your commitment. Now I am asking for your patience to adhere to new these guidelines for as long as necessary to prevent any further spread of coronavirus. As we have since the beginning of the lockdown, we will closely monitor the data available to us and update you on any changes as quickly as possible. We will get through this the only way we know how; together.
 

 

Posted by: Executive Leader


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