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Residents urged: ‘continue to get tested and vaccinated’ as Covid restrictions set to lift, and teams praised for swift reopening of tip

Published: Wednesday, 7th July 2021

Residents are being urged to continue to get tested and vaccinated in the fight against the coronavirus, as case rates rise ahead of the proposed national lifting of restrictions later this month.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council leaders are encouraging residents to use pop-up lateral flow testing and vaccination centres in the city, as part of a range of measures to bring facilities into communities to help residents protect themselves from the spread of the virus.

Earlier this week the government announced that the final fourth stage of the roadmap out of lockdown will take place on Monday 19 July, if its five principles for managing the virus are met by next Monday (12 July). It will mean that limits on social distancing and contacts will be removed, nightclubs and large music and sporting events can resume without limits on attendance, employers can start to plan a return to workplaces, limits on table service in pubs and restaurants will be lifted, rules on sending school ‘bubbles’ home after a positive case will cease at the end of the summer term, limits on life events such as weddings, funerals and baptisms will be removed, and it will no longer be a legal requirement to wear a face covering. From 16 August close contacts of people who have tested positive will no longer have to self-isolate if they have been fully vaccinated. A full list of the changes is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-response-summer-2021-roadmap.

The changes come as the seven-day rate of coronavirus cases in the city is now 258.2 per 100,000 people, for the week 25 June – 1 July 2021, an increase of 68.9 per cent on the previous seven days. The percentage of people who have had a test and tested positive is 5.9 per cent. Cases are spread across the city but hotspot areas are Hanley and Etruria.

Council leader Abi Brown said: “We have all had to live through so many restrictions over the past 18 months and the way that residents and businesses have responded to this challenge has been fantastic. The easing of restrictions will be welcomed by a lot of people, but equally it is important that we consider everyone – there will be residents who have not yet been vaccinated, and people who are worried about the removal of the need to wear a face covering.

“While our case rates are not as high as a number of other areas, they are still increasing. So we urge people to be cautious around the lifting of restrictions. I will still be using my face covering, particularly when on public transport or in buildings that aren’t my usual workplace. We urge residents to continue to get tested and to record their results, and to continue to get vaccinated.”

Walk-in vaccination centres are taking place at Norfolk Street Surgery at Shelton Primary Care Centre in Norfolk Street, Shelton, ST1 4PB between 3.30pm – 5pm tomorrow (Thursday) and between 12pm – 1.130pn on Saturday (10 July). The Pfizer vaccine will be available for first and second doses for the over 18s. For the latest information on walk-in vaccination clinics across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent, please visit https://www.twbstaffsandstoke.org.uk/coronavirus/covid-19-vaccination/where-can-i-get-my-vaccination-from/community-vaccination-sites.

Enhanced community testing took place today (Wednesday) in The Potteries Centre and will return to the centre on Friday between 10am-3pm in the former Art Shop unit near the escalator on the lower entrance outside TK Maxx.

Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones, director of adult social care, health integration and wellbeing, said: “I’m really pleased that the teams have been able to return to Hanley, after they were unfortunately abused by some appallingly behaved passers-by last week. That is not acceptable, and we have taken steps to move to a new location with further support in the shopping centre. We felt it really important to return to Hanley because it is one of the areas with the highest recorded rates of the virus at the moment and we want to do all we can to support people to protect themselves and others from spreading the disease. We issued 468 home testing kits in Hanley last week, that means that residents are now able to carry out and record 3,276 more lateral flow tests.

“If you have an appointment for a vaccination, please ensure that you keep it, and the walk-in facilities being arranged in Shelton will help many more people access vaccinations in their community. We urge people to continue to be cautious as restrictions ease; remembering your face covering has become as much a part of getting ready every day as finding your car keys or picking up your mobile phone – they remain a really good defence against spreading the virus.”

The Potteries Centre general manager Amy Whittaker said: "We're all pleased to see life gradually getting back to normal and we know that regular lateral flow testing is a big part of facilitating that. We're really pleased to be able to support our community by hosting a pop-up testing site and look forward to continuing to work with the teams delivering this important initiative.”

Meanwhile, council teams are being praised after they volunteered their time to ensure the Hanford Household Waste and Recycling Centre reopened swiftly to residents after a member of staff contracted the coronavirus outside of work last week. The tip closed on 30 June at short notice, with every Covid-secure measure immediately followed, which included all the staff self-isolating and conducting daily lateral flow tests, and a thorough two-day deep clean of all the facilities. The tip was able to open again in time for the weekend.

Council leader Abi Brown said: “The staff and site acted quickly to ensure all the public health guidelines were followed.

“We were able to open again on Saturday and Sunday, and this was because of a small army of volunteers who stepped in from a whole host of other council services to help. Staff from leisure centres, parking services, waste services, fleet teams and management teams all gave their time over the weekend so we could open and keep services going for residents. We had more than 800 vehicles use the facilities on both Saturday and Sunday. We’d like to thank our brilliant staff for making this possible, and thank residents for bearing with us while we worked through this.

“The staff who were isolating returned to work as normal today (Wednesday), and the member of staff who unfortunately contracted the coronavirus is being supported as he recovers.”