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Extra measures scaled back but vigilance still needed says Sefton’s Public Health boss

Responding to the announcement by the Government it is scaling back the extra measures that were put in place to combat the COVID Delta variant, Sefton Council’s Director of Public Health Margaret Jones has said people need to remain on their guard.

Protect each other

Image of Sefton's Director of Public Health, Margaret JonesMargaret Jones said: “It is clear that despite the Government’s lifting of most restrictions last week and the removal of these extra measures, we all need to remain vigilant if we are going to halt the current growth in COVID infections and protect each other.

“We all need to make sure we get both our vaccination jabs and I thank everyone who has already got theirs. We also all need to continue taking regular rapid tests even though we don’t have coronavirus symptoms. And we all need to continue isolating as soon as we’re we’re told to through Test and Trace or the NHS app.

“People can get vaccination jabs at walk-in locations across the Borough, free rapid tests are still widely available including from all Sefton pharmacies, and we are still running drive-through and walk-through centres for rapid and PCR tests.

“More information on all of these is available at www.sefton.gov.uk/covid19.”

Friday’s Government announcement said the package of additional support that has been in place in Sefton and across the Liverpool City Region and other areas will end. However, it said the Government will continue to work closely with local authorities to help them manage COVID-19 growth rates in their areas.

Concern

Mrs Jones said that she had noticed that many people across Sefton were continuing to show concern for others around them by still wearing masks in indoor spaces and maintaining social distancing.

She added: “I know that many people were concerned about the withdrawal of most restrictions last week and I think this is reflected by large numbers of people who are carrying on observing them voluntarily in order to keep themselves and those around them safe.”

Council welcomes Government’s ‘pingdemic’ exemptions but awaits details

Cllr Ian Maher
Council Leader Cllr Ian Maher

Sefton Council Leader Cllr Ian Maher has welcomed the Government’s announcement that local government employees will be among those who can carry on working after being pinged by the COVID app, as long as they take daily tests.

Feeling effects

Cllr Ian Maher said: Like companies and organisations across the country, Sefton Council is feeling the effects of the current ‘pingdemic’ which is seeing thousands of people being told to isolate through the NHS COVID app.

“With the recent growth in numbers of people infected because of the coronavirus Delta variant, many of the Council’s staff are currently isolating, which is continuing to have an effect on frontline services.

“With the Government finally announcing the list of those exempt from isolation, we can hopefully start to recover, although we are still waiting to hear the details of what roles are covered.”

The Government has said that exemptions will only apply to workers who are fully vaccinated and then, 14 days after their second coronavirus jab. They will apply until Monday 16th August when wider relaxations for fully vaccinated people are expected

Last night’s announcement by the Government warned “this is not a blanket exemption for all workers in a sector”. The exemptions “will not cover all or in most cases even the majority of workers in critical sectors” and only apply to those whose employer has received a letter on which they are is listed by name.

Rising sharply

Cllr Ian Maher said: “Despite the recent lifting of COVID restrictions by the Government, the Delta variant has meant numbers of cases have been rising sharply, in Sefton, on Merseyside and across the country.

“As with other sectors such as transport and supermarkets and food production, councils are being hit by the large numbers of people having to isolate and I am afraid this inevitably means services will be affected.

“Sefton Council employees have been working to support and protect our communities, our businesses and our vulnerable throughout the pandemic.

“Some have been able to continue working mainly from home while others have carried on as well providing frontline service such as bin collections, social services, care work and the protection of our unique environment. And teachers and other staff have been in Sefton’s schools throughout the pandemic for pupils who were unable to stay at home.

“Some staff have been temporarily transferred to other teams because they have been unable to carry on with their regular jobs due to closures. Instead they have worked in areas such as burials and cremations to ensure the continuation of those key services.

“I can assure Sefton’s residents, businesses and visitors that the Council will continue to deliver the services they rely on even though they may, temporarily, not be at the same high standards they quite rightly expect.”

Cllr Maher went on to say that while the number of employees being told to isolate through the COVID app was affecting Council services, they were doing ‘the right thing’ by following the guidance.

Vital

Cllr Maher continued: “For those of us not covered by these new exemptions it is vital that if we are pinged or contacted by test and trace, we continue to self-isolate.

“Like getting both vaccination jabs and continuing to take regular tests if you’ve not got symptoms, isolating when we’re told to, is vital to preventing the further spread of COVID in this latest peak of infections.

“And I have been pleased to see that, while the Government has removed most restrictions, many people across Sefton are continuing to show care and consideration for each other by wearing masks, maintaining social distancing and, I hope, washing their hands frequently and thoroughly.”

Find out more about COVID in Sefton.

Seaforth Village Surgery open from Thursday 22nd July as a COVID-19 vaccination site

Seaforth Village Surgery
Seaforth Village Surgery

Seaforth Village Surgery will be open as a COVID-19 vaccination site from Thursday 22nd July.

All south Sefton residents who can either walk in for their jab or book an appointment.

Run by GP practices in Seaforth and Litherland, Seaforth Village Surgery will be offering jabs until the end of August following a successful pilot earlier in the year.

Seaforth Village Surgery will be open for walk-ins or appointments Tuesday – Saturday from 10am to 6.30pm. If people do want to book they can call 07979 938 229 or book via their own GP practice if they are registered with a GP in south Sefton.

The various other ways you can get your vaccination in Sefton are:

People who attend a walk-in clinic for their first dose will have their vaccination record updated online and will then be able to book in their second dose appointment using the national booking system.

Second jabs are also available at some of the walk-ins, if it has been at least eight weeks since the first dose and you can check which are offering both doses on the CCG website.

Getting the second dose is vital to getting longer lasting and maximum protection offered by the vaccines, with recent research also showing they are highly effective against the Delta strain of the virus.

Patients are reminded that although COVID restrictions ended in England on 19 July that when they are visiting healthcare facilities they must continue to wear a face covering and follow social distancing rules to protect themselves, other and vulnerable patients and staff.

Find out more about vaccination in Sefton.

Freedom of Sefton Borough for NHS Trusts

Sefton Council last night confirmed it is awarding the Honorary Freedom of the Borough to Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Southport and Ormskirk NHS Trust, as well as Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust and Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust.

At a meeting of Full Council last night, the decision was made to recognise the four Trusts and all their staff formally, for their hard work and dedication during the Covid 19 pandemic.

Freedom of the Borough is the highest ceremonial honour the local authority can bestow and a permanent record of the Borough’s endless appreciation and debt of gratitude to the Trusts will now be formalised.

An Extra-ordinary meeting of council will be organised to officially grant the Freedom of the Borough, when Covid 19 restrictions will allow. In addition, a civic reception will be planned for officers of the Trusts and their invited guests.

Organistions receiving Freedom of the Borough gain the ‘right, privilege, honour and distinction of marching through the streets of the Borough on all ceremonial occasions with colours flying, bands playing, drums beating and bayonets fixed’.

Cllr Ian Maher, Sefton Council Leader said: “The Trusts and all of their staff have served the Borough and wider city region tirelessly throughout the pandemic, putting themselves at risk in ensuring the safety of others.

“That selflessness and dedication cannot be underestimated, which is why the Council are awarding NHS staff at all levels within the Trusts the Honorary Freedom of the Borough.”

Neil Masom OBE, the chair of Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust said: “This is a tremendous honour for the tireless and often challenging work of colleagues during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Every one of them is on the frontline in one way or another whether they are in a clinical, support or administrative role. We all work as one team and one family, ensuring we deliver the best possible care for those in need.”

Fiona Taylor, Chief Officer at South Sefton and Southport and Formby CCGs said: “This is a huge honour for NHS colleagues working in our local hospitals, recognising the risks and challenges many of them faced in dealing with the human tragedy of this pandemic. We’re proud, alongside our general practices, community and mental health providers, to support them in continuing to care for our communities and keeping us all safe.”

Dame Jo Williams, Chair of Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust and Louise Shepherd, Chief Executive of Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust said: “We are hugely honoured to be recognised and to have been awarded the Freedom of the Borough from Sefton Council. It is fantastic recognition for our staff and colleagues who have worked tirelessly and bravely during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Alder Hey is privileged to play a vital role in supporting the health of children in Sefton and around the world. This would not be possible without the support we receive from children and families around the Borough and from our friends and partners in the Local Authority and other agencies.”

Joe Rafferty CBE, Chief Executive of Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Like all other NHS organisations, the COVID-19 pandemic presented huge challenges for Mersey Care and I see this honour as recognition for everyone who have worked so hard during some of the most difficult times in the history of the NHS.

“We’ve had to adapt, quite often find different ways of working, but I’m extremely proud of the way we’ve continued to care and kept our mental health and community health patients and service users safe.”

Previous organisations who have been granted Freedom of the Borough include RAF Woodvale, in 2011, and No. 238 (Sefton) Squadron, 156 Regiment, Royal Corps of Transport, in 1982. Individuals who have had the honour bestowed upon them include Jamie Carragher, in 2004, and Donald “Ginger” McCain in 2006.

Sefton Council’s call for caution echoed by Metro Mayor and England’s Police Chiefs

People in the street wearing masksIn line with Sefton Council’s appeal to people to remain COVID-cautious after Monday 19th July, when the Government is lifting most remaining restrictions, Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotherham wants people to continue wearing masks on public transport.

Also, police chiefs say that “to keep officers safe” they will continue to wear masks and other protective equipment after the legal requirements are lifted on Monday.

On Monday, the Prime Minister said the Government recommends people continue to wear face coverings in crowded and enclosed spaces including on public transport. But it is no longer a legal requirement.

Ahead of the Prime Minister’s announcement, Sefton Council advised people to continue wearing face coverings in busy indoor spaces where social distancing isn’t possible.

Last week, Sefton Council leader Ian Maher stressed that people have the right to take whatever action makes them feel safe.

Courtesy and consideration

Cllr Maher said: “It is clear from people’s reaction to the government’s announcement it plans to abandon measures to protect people from COVID from Monday 19th July that this is causing real fears for a lot of people.

“While some people will want to get rid of masks straight away, others will want to continue wearing them and have every right to do so. Wearing masks have proven to protect the wearer and those people who they come into contact with from catching COVID.

“I know many of us are now double vaccinated and feel safer but despite being jabbed up we can still contract the virus without feeling any ill effects and pass it on to others. This may include those who remain vulnerable to COVID, people with other medical conditions that make them susceptible to illness as well as front-line health workers who are acutely aware of the virus and it effects.

“So, continuing to wear a mask can be seen as an act of courtesy and consideration as much as self-protection.”

And on Monday, Sefton Council urged ongoing caution.

Protect ourselves and others

Sefton’s Director of Public Health Margaret Jones said: “COVID-19 continues to be with us in Sefton and that presence will continue after Monday 19th July but if we all continue to take the precautions that could protect ourselves and others, we can carefully continue down the path back to normality.”

Yesterday, Metro Mayor Steve Rotherham joined four other mayors, in calling for the continuation of mask-wearing after Monday 19th July. Metro Mayor Rotherham said he couldn’t force privately-owned transport companies to make masks and face covering mandatory, but said he is keen to reach an agreement with transport operators.

Mersey Ferries

Mr Rotheram has been able to make masks mandatory on Mersey Ferries.

After the legal requirement is lifted on Monday 19th July, bus and train companies can still turn away customers who refuse to cover their noses and mouths.

Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram said that wearing a face mask is protecting other people.

Police

Police officers will continue to wear masks and other protective equipment after legal requirements are lifted in England on 19 July “to keep officers safe”.

Chief constables say they have a duty to ‘keep their staff and officers safe’ amid criticism of government policy and the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) has written to all police officers saying that “existing infection control measures” for coronavirus should continue.

Find out more about COVID-19 in Sefton.

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