On Monday 29 March the constraints set out in law will lift further and allow up to six people or two households to meet outdoors. The 'Stay at Home' rule will end, outdoor activity facilities will open and formally organised outdoor sports will be allowed.
In a bid to curb COVID-19 cases Public Health Northamptonshire is launching a new coronavirus awareness campaign on Monday called 'Take Care in the Open Air.' The aim is to remind everyone to stay alert and stay 2m apart, avoid face to face and physical contact, not to share drinks, avoid shouting and remain aware of surface transmission.
Residents will also be retold to use contactless payments where possible, sanitise if they can't find a tap to wash their hands and discard face coverings in the bin.
This week's surveillance report, an analysis of the county's recent coronavirus cases and rates over the period 15 - 21 March 2021, shows 589 residents have tested positive. Weekly case numbers peaked in early January, then steadily declined through to the beginning of March, but recent data shows the total number of positive cases have started to slowly increase.
All district and borough infection rates per 100,000 population, except for South Northamptonshire's, are showing to be significantly higher than or similar to the national average. Northampton, East Northamptonshire and Corby's rates are significantly higher. Corby continues to have one of the highest case rates in England and cases have now started to climb again in the last fortnight.
Due to the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccination in the elderly and clinically vulnerable, over the last four-week period there have been steady decreases in numbers of cases identified amongst people aged 60+ and the number of sad deaths of loved ones is reducing. Bed occupancy at our hospitals has now decreased to levels last seen at the end of October 2020, however there is still demand for Intensive Care beds.
Now, and in the coming months, residents are being urged to continue to get tested, get vaccinated when the call comes to ensure that the county progresses through the four steps outlined in the Government's 'Roadmap out of lockdown' at the earliest opportunity. They are also being reminded that if they have had a vaccine or a negative Lateral Flow Test, they must still continue to follow all guidance.
Lucy Wightman, Director of Public Health at Northamptonshire County Council, says:
We are urging all residents to be 'good eggs' and be COVID-secure now, over the Easter break and beyond. Please keep to the COVID-19 protective mantra; Hands, Face, Space so we can push the rates down and look forward to a summer when all the restrictions may be lifted. Until the rates of the virus go down further it is still not safe to meet indoors, even for a cup of tea. For this reason, it remains against the law to do so.
On Monday 29 March up to six people or two households will be permitted to meet outdoors at distance. Please remember that this meeting at distance also applies to children or young people who are bubbled up at schools where COVID-secure measures are in place.
Last year we saw an increase in the numbers of cases in school aged children after the holiday period. Contact tracing data showed that sleepovers between friends played a part in rising cases in youngsters. You must follow the rules by not having play dates indoors or sleepovers over the Easter break to protect your children and their friends, as well as yourselves, from COVID-19."
If you qualify for a jab, but have not yet received one urgently book an appointment in the next few days before slots dry up. People in the following groups awaiting their first dose can proactively contact their GP practice or book an appointment at the Vaccination Centre or a local pharmacy-led site, online or by calling 119. Book a vaccination
They no longer need to wait to be contacted: It is vital that these people are vaccinated. The top nine priority groups as set out by the JCVI are now eligible to receive the vaccine are: People aged 50 and over, People at high risk from coronavirus (clinically extremely vulnerable), People who live and work in care homes, Health and social care workers, People with a condition that puts them at higher risk (clinically vulnerable), People with a learning disability, People who are a main carer for someone at high risk from coronavirus.
Everyone else outside of these currently eligible groups is asked to wait their turn and they will be invited for a jab in due course.
The following people now have access to FREE regular rapid lateral flow testing: adults who are unable to work from home, secondary school pupils and college students, staff of primary and secondary schools, nurseries and colleges, adults in households, childcare and support bubbles of nursery children, primary and secondary-age pupils and college students.
Pupils in secondary schools and colleges will now get home testing kits from their school or college. Adults in their families, meanwhile, can get a COVID-19 test twice each week at a local test site or by collecting a home test kit from a test site.
Remember: a negative test is not a free pass to ignore the guidance.
The county's community based testing sites for workers who cannot work from home are at Lodge Park Sports Centre in Corby, Hazelwood Neighbourhood Centre in Corby, Danes Camp Leisure Centre in Northampton, Brackley Leisure Centre in South Northants and Redwell Leisure Centre in Wellingborough, Daventry Leisure Centre in Daventry.
The test is called a Lateral Flow Test and involves a swab of the mouth and nose and provides a result within 30 minutes. The University of Northampton site is now restricted to students and university staff.
If you are not showing symptoms but must work with others, get the rapid test to find out if you are infectious and isolate if positive. It is vital however to understand that the test only tells you whether you are at peak infectiousness at the time of the test, it does not tell you that you are COVID-free.
Levels of infectiousness change from the point of contracting the virus to the point you recover from it, which can take up to 14 days, during which time you may not have experienced any symptoms. It is therefore vital that you exercise all COVID-secure measures even if you get a negative result. You must continue to follow COVID guidelines and remember to wash your hands, wear a face covering indoors and maintain 2m distance from others.
If you have COVID-19 symptoms, remember to get tested as soon as possible to find out if you are positive. If you have a high temperature, continuous cough or loss of or change in sense of smell or taste, you should immediately self-isolate and book a PCR test.
If you have either type of COVID-19 test and it is positive, you must self-isolate for ten days – with your household also isolating for 10 days from when the positive person's symptoms started or test result was positive if they have no symptoms. Do not go to your workplace, to school or to the shops. Either work from home or report sick.
Those who test positive for COVID-19 will be helped by the NHS test and trace service to identify the people they've recently been in contact with so they can be alerted and also self-isolate if required.
Tests can be booked on the Test and Trace app, online or by calling 119.
Home testing kits can also be ordered subject to availability. Book a test