Latest Update from Buckinghamshire Council (13/05/21)
Following the end of election restrictions, it is good to be able to write to you personally again with an update on the Covid situation in Buckinghamshire. It’s a particular pleasure as I am able to report that the infection rate in Buckinghamshire is following the national trend downwards and is now at 12.1 per 100,000 residents. This is far lower than it was just a few weeks ago. A tribute to the effects of both the observance of the lockdown but also particularly the high take-up rate locally of the vaccination programme. There are still some causes for caution and I will cover them a little later in this update.
On Monday next week (17 May) we can all look forward to further easing of Covid restrictions. You’ll no doubt be aware that the government is satisfied its four tests are continuing to be met and that the roadmap can safely continue.
From Monday we’ll be able to eat and drink inside pubs, cafes and restaurants. We can meet others indoors (two households or rule of six), and we can stay overnight in a hotel. Of huge importance to all of us, we can hug loved ones once again, and we can make our own choices on social distancing with close friends and family – this includes everyone, including anyone who’s been shielding. All of these are freedoms we’ve been without and that I’m sure we will never take for granted again.
I must underline the importance of doing all of this cautiously. The message is clear; let’s take this next step carefully. Covid hasn’t gone away – people are still catching it and people are still spreading it. There are still rules in place that should be followed, such as the limits on numbers of people who can meet socially, so I ask you to make sure you are familiar with what we can and cannot do from Monday. When considering close contacts, weigh up the risks and stay cautious. Social distancing will still apply in settings like shops and hospitals. Still meet outside where you can and let fresh air in when you’re indoors.
Importantly – get tested regularly and have your vaccine when it’s your turn. We have new mobile testing units offering free rapid tests in various locations from this week – you can also visit one of the fixed sites and take test kits home if you prefer. There’s more information about rapid testing on our website and you can also get up to date information on where the mobile testing units are on our social media channels (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram).
If you or someone you live with develops symptoms of Covid make sure your household isolates and book a test for anyone with symptoms, either online or by calling 119.
Extra testing in Aylesbury
A small number of cases of the variant of Covid first identified in India have been found in the Kingsbrook area of Aylesbury. All the people involved have followed the guidance and have self-isolated. However, it’s really important we track this as closely as possible, so Buckinghamshire Council and Public Health England have started targeted testing in the area this week. This is so we can help avoid the spread of this variant and understand whether it is spreading in our community.
We are asking everyone who visits, lives or works in the Oakfield Village area of the Kingsbrook estate (postcodes HP22 7AA to HP22 7BP) to come forward for a PCR test regardless of whether you have symptoms or not. There will be special mobile testing units in the area and we ask as many people as possible to visit them between today (Thursday 13 May) and Saturday 15 May. These test centres will be at four different locations, two in the centre of Aylesbury (Lidl Oakfield Road and Vale Retail Park) and two in Bierton (Aktiva Nursery and ‘The Dog House’ pub).
If you cannot attend a test site you can order a kit online; there will also be a team taking test kits door to door on Saturday for anyone who’s not been able to get to a test site themselves. The full details are on specially set up pages on our website.
The situation in Buckinghamshire
As I mentioned, the infection rates in Buckinghamshire are now very low with an overall rate of 12.1 and a rate as low as 6.2 in the former Chiltern District area. You can see all the detailed figures on the Covid dashboard on our website. While every death is a terrible loss, the number of people dying from Covid in Bucks is currently very low. Nevertheless, the situation in Kingsbrook reminds us all of the need to stay vigilant.
437,886 vaccinations have now been given in Buckinghamshire. The vaccine is safe and effective and anyone aged 38 or over (or who turns 38 before 1 July) is currently eligible to book their vaccination appointment.
You can book your vaccine online via the national booking system or by calling 119 – you can read more via this NHS link. Please remember that while your first dose will offer a good level of protection a few weeks after you’ve had it, you need two doses to further increase your level of protection. It is very important you attend both appointments.
Local people are being offered appointments at the Guttman vaccination centre at Stoke Mandeville Stadium, Aylesbury and other large centres in neighbouring counties (which may be closer for some Bucks residents). Community pharmacies continue to offer appointments too. Some GP practices are only offering COVID-19 vaccinations to patients in priority groups 1-9. Anyone not in these groups should book their appointment online using the national booking system when it’s their turn.
People aged 18-39 with no underlying health conditions will receive an alternative vaccine to AstraZeneca (AZ) – either Pfizer or Moderna. This follows the latest advice by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.
For updates and news on all our local vaccination sites, including which vaccines are being offered, visit Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group’s new local site update webpage.
Lastly, a reminder that the vaccination clinic at the Odeon Cinema in Aylesbury has moved just up the road to Buckinghamshire New University, Aylesbury Campus. Anyone who has an appointment for the Odeon site is being contacted, so do make a note of this change if it affects your vaccination booking.
Many council services that were closed during lockdown are open for business again and it’s brilliant to be welcoming customers back into libraries, leisure centres and other sites across Bucks. For details of opening times and arrangements at your local library check our website.
It’s fantastic that Bucks County Museum is opening its doors again next week too. The garden is already open and you can take a look at what’s happening from next week too on their website.
I should remind you that of course, Covid measures and social distancing will still be in place at all of these venues so please carry on sticking to the guidance to help keep us all safe.
I hope as many people as possible are enjoying being able to shop, eat, exercise and enjoy themselves at our local businesses too. We expect even more people to return to our high streets with businesses such as pubs and restaurants being able to serve customers inside from Monday too. I just wanted to remind you that, after having been suspended for a month, parking charges do now apply again in Buckinghamshire Council car parks. We’ve put Covid safety measures in place such as marking out social distancing around ticket machines and there are ticketless and cashless payment options at more of our sites now.
Boost your Business
We know businesses across Bucks have faced unprecedented challenge this last year. If you’re a business owner then do use our #WelcomeBackBucks hashtag in your social media promotion to reach a bigger audience. We’ve also produced a free ‘Boost your Business’ digital toolkit to help our local businesses get back on their feet, containing poster templates and a marketing guide – so do check it out if you want that extra support and advice.
With businesses able to start trading again, the government support grants scheme we’ve been operating has now closed. I’m delighted to say we’ve been able to pay out more than £140 million during the pandemic to help our local firms to help cover losses caused by the necessary Covid restrictions. Unlike many other councils, we prioritised getting these grants paid so every penny of available help could be passed onto local businesses.
Stay safe, stay cautious and enjoy getting more of our freedoms back,
Leader of Buckinghamshire Council
Granborough Support Network
We are now in another lockdown period and therefore if you need support then please do contact us. The Granborough Support Network has come out of hibernation and there are many volunteers willing and able to assist. As before, collection of prescriptions, shopping and dog walking can all be sorted, along with someone to talk to if daytime TV has lost it’s sparkle. Please don’t hesitate to ask.
T: 01296 670204
T: 01296 670570
T: 01296 670596
T: 07365 605412
Granborough Church Food Bank
The food bank is continuing to operate, and the demand for food is increasing during these difficult times.
As the church is now closed, we have moved the food bank crate to the front porch of Chapel House, 24, Winslow Road. Please drop off your donations here as usual and we will ensure they are taken into Aylesbury on a regular basis. The front porch can get quite warm when the sun shines so please make sure that you do not leave items that might not cope with the heat e.g. chocolate, custard creams etc.
The North Marston Shop
7.00am to 7.00pm, Monday to Friday, 9am to 12 noon Saturday and Sunday.
Orders can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
Additionally, orders can be placed by calling 01296 670374.
Orders need to be paid for when they are collected from the shop.
All household waste and recycling centres are now closed. Waste collection continues at present but the garden and bulky item services have been withdrawn. Please do not put garden waste in your household bins, they won’t be emptied.
Wiltshire Farm Foods (Stewkley)
Wiltshire Farm Foods prepare and deliver meals to the elderly and vulnerable in this area. They are creating new delivery slots and will accept new orders. Please phone 01525 242220 or you can see the range of meals at wiltshirefarmfoods.com.
Virus Scams – Advice
- Don’t be pressurised into making a decision. If someone is trying to rush you or panic you, they are probably trying to scam you.
- Only purchase goods from trusted retailers.
- Be suspicious of requests for money upfront.
- Do not give your bank card or bank details to a stranger.
- Never write your PIN down.
- Know who you’re dealing with – if you don’t know the person who’s offering you help, ask to be introduced by someone that you know and trust.
Contact For Advice on Scams
Call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 11 33
To report a scam call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040
Contact your bank if you think you have been scammed.