Mark Eastwood MP: Kirklees COVID-19 Update 31/07/20

Mark Eastwood MP Kirklees COVID-19 Update 31/07/20

Mark Eastwood MP has been taking part in regular meetings with Kirklees Council leaders and fellow MPs from across Kirklees including Jason McCartney MP (Colne Valley) and Tracy Brabin MP (Batley and Spen). All parties have been working well together.

Following on from this Mark Eastwood will be sharing information with constituents on a range of local issues relating to Covid19. The local data shows that our rates of COVID-19 infection have dropped by 29 per cent over the last week which is a really positive sign, but we’re still above the national average and we need to see them come down even further so we can save lives and avoid a local lockdown. You’ll, of course, be aware of the additional restrictions that affect Kirklees, announced by Government last night, and details from Kirklees Council are outlined on this below.

Community Update

COVID-19 data

Thanks to the efforts of everyone in Kirklees, the local data shows that our rates of COVID-19 infection have dropped by 29 per cent over the last seven days.

However, our rates still remain above the national average and we need to continue to bring them down further. If we become complacent, a second wave can easily happen.

We all have a part to play in doing this and the easiest and most effective way is to continue to social distance, wash hands regularly and get tested if you have symptoms. We’re now also urging people not to hold events that could attract a crowd of more than 30 people.

The Government announced new restrictions for areas in the North of England, including Kirklees, on 30 July. It means that for the time being you cannot visit people from other households in their home or garden unless they are in your support bubble.

We can completely understand the disappointment this will cause, particularly with our rates decreasing again this week, and we are speaking with the Government to understand more about this decision and how we can get these freedoms back as quickly as possible.

In the meantime, please adhere to the new restrictions, so we can continue to bring our rates down and save lives.

What does the data tell us about Kirklees?

During the pandemic, 544.1 people per 100,000 residents have tested positive for the virus.

The data also tells us that 19.8 people per 100,000 residents tested positive in Kirklees in the past week. This is lower than the rate of 28.0 we had last week, which was similar to 27.8 the previous week.

The current national rate is 8.0. The current West Yorkshire average rate is 22.2.

In summary, our infection rates have dropped by 29%  over the last week but we’re still above the national average and we need to see our rates come down further to save lives.

A relatively small number of cases can make a large difference to rates and this needs to be considered when looking at weekly changes and comparisons with other areas.

Why are the numbers higher in Kirklees than in other areas?

Nobody yet knows exactly why COVID-19 is more prevalent in some places than others but we have begun an action plan to tackle any local spikes of infections.

New restrictions for Kirklees

On 30 July, the government announced new restrictions for 4 million people in the North of England, including everyone in Kirklees.

The main change in the rules is about visiting people in their homes or gardens. The new restrictions mean:

  • You cannot visit any other home or garden that isn’t your own.
  • You cannot have anyone visit your home or garden.

If you are part of a support bubble, you can continue to visit each other.

If you are going out (to a restaurant, pub or other indoor space) you must not go with anyone from outside your household. You cannot meet or interact indoors with people outside your household while you are out.

Read more on what these new restrictions mean for Kirklees.

How else can I help bring rates down further?

We all have a role to play in doing this. The advice is the same for everyone, whatever age you are and wherever you live.

Keep social distancing, wash your hands regularly and isolate and get tested if you have symptoms.

Please do not organise or attend an event that is likely to attract a crowd of more than 30 people.

Wearing a face covering is compulsory in shops and supermarkets. This is another easy way you can help. You may not know you are infectious. You may have no symptoms at all but that very same virus could be fatal for someone else.

When used correctly, wearing a face-covering can reduce the spread of coronavirus droplets, helping to protect others.

Are there areas that have higher rates than others?

Yes, and we are targeting any areas that have spikes in infection rates.

Initially, we targeted Ravensthorpe, Saville Town and Batley West, for extra support and have been focussing on people in the 20-40 years old age group.

We’ve also been delivering additional support in Birkby and Fartown where we’ve also noticed spikes in infection rates.

We will continue to analyse the data to learn more about spikes or trends in areas or within specific social groups across Kirklees and we will take targeted action to bring rates back down and save lives.

What is the council doing?

We’re using the data we now receive to target areas in Kirklees that have higher infection rates.

An outreach operation in communities most affected by COVID-19 is already underway with local councillors leading hundreds of council staff in dispensing public health advice to residents and working with families and communities on how they can stay safe

We’re also offering increased testing in affected areas. An additional mobile testing unit (MTU) is available in Batley at Wards Hill car park. The existing MTU in Dewsbury has moved to Cliffe Street car park. The units will be available for anyone who thinks they have symptoms to get a test.

We’ve also written to all residents in Kirklees with the latest information on how they can keep themselves and their loved ones safe.

Should I get tested?

If you have symptoms, you should get tested. Find out more about how to get a test.

New restrictions for Kirklees

Late last night, the government announced new restrictions for 4 million people in the North of England, including everyone in Kirklees. We understand that local people will have many questions about the new rules. Here’s what we know so far:

What am I not allowed to do?

The main change in the rules is about visiting people in their homes or gardens. The new restrictions mean:

·        You cannot visit any other home or garden that isn’t your own.

·        You cannot have anyone visit your home or garden.

If you are part of a support bubble, you can continue to visit each other.

If you are going out (to a restaurant, pub or other indoor space) you must not go with anyone from outside your household. You cannot meet or interact indoors with people outside your household while you are out.

What is a support bubble?

A support bubble is strictly limited to one household and one other person who lives on their own. You can only be in one support bubble.

Can I meet outside?

Up to six people can meet outdoors but the group must be made up of people from no more than two households and you must maintain social distancing.

The council has already said it will not allow gatherings of more than 30 people outside.

What else am I not allowed to do?

You can’t visit anyone in their homes even if they don’t live in Kirklees. People can’t come to your home from outside Kirklees to visit you.

You can continue to do everything else that was allowed before yesterday: go to work, shops, pubs, restaurants, exercise. But you cannot do these things with people from outside your household.

Can my friends or family still visit to provide childcare?

You should not meet with people you don’t live within their homes or gardens. Two households, or up to 6 people from multiple households, can still meet in outdoor public places (like parks) for childcare.

Where people from single adult households (people who live alone or single parents with dependent children aged under 18) have formed a support bubble with another household, they can continue to visit each other for childcare purposes. Parents and carers can continue to use registered child care provision, including childminders. They can also continue to employ nannies

What does this mean for Eid al-Adha?

We can celebrate Eid in the way we were already planning. Places of worship remain open with the social distancing and COVID-secure measures that were already in place.

The new restrictions mean you won’t be able to visit anyone else’s home as part of your celebrations. These restrictions include visiting gardens.

Outdoor gatherings of more than six people remain restricted.

What does this mean for sport?

As far as we understand, sport can continue.

However, in Kirklees, we are asking that organisers ensure that more than 30 attendees are not present. Local sports governing bodies and sports league secretaries will be contacted with guidance and advice on how to manage this.

We understand that for some people taking part in sport that their parents or carers may need to attend with them and our advice is that they social distance from people not from their household.

If you’re an organiser of any sporting activity or event, please contact us if you’d like further advice.

Is shielding going to be extended?

There are no plans to extend or reintroduce shielding. However, if you do feel as though you are vulnerable we would advise you to take necessary precautions to avoid contact with people not in your support bubble or household.

Do the restrictions apply to everyone?

Yes, everyone who lives anywhere in Kirklees and around 4 million people in the North of England. There are some exceptions for vulnerable people but they are not yet clear.

Why have the restrictions been introduced?

The government has decided that there is a risk that the virus is spreading quickly in parts of England. The moves are to try and stop the infection spreading between households.

Why do the restrictions cover parts of Kirklees where infection rates are low?

The government has decided where the restrictions should apply. They have taken an approach that many whole local authority areas should be included. They think that there is a danger that the virus is present in areas beyond the clusters we have seen over previous weeks. Other local authorities have recently seen increases in cases in areas where the virus have previously been low. They think that might also happen in Kirklees.

What are the rates of infection in Kirklees?

Last week’s data showed that the rates of infection in Kirklees were four times as high as the national average. This week’s data is likely to show a significant reduction in that rate. So we are currently in a different position to many of the local authorities affected. Nevertheless, the government believes the threat of increases in the rate are high and they have decided to take this action.

What has the council done to reduce infections?

As soon as we had the data from the government about infections, we have taken targeted action in the areas most affected. We have gone out into the community, delivered a public information campaign and worked with partners to get the messages out about staying safe and protecting our communities. The past week has seen a reduction in cases and we will carry on our work to get numbers down further.

What happens if I don’t follow the rules?

This could put your health and the health of others at risk. This could also result in an increase in rates in Kirklees and could risk putting us in a local lockdown.

The government has said it will give local authorities and police forces the powers to enforce these restrictions and more details on these will be set out when the regulations are published.

Can I still go to work?

Yes. There are no changes to work. But you must still follow the rules on social distancing.

If you are working in someone else’s home, you can continue to do that.

When do the restrictions come into force?

These restrictions are in force now.

When do the restrictions end?

We don’t know yet. Given our decreasing infection rates, we hope we can get our freedoms back quickly.

What can I do?

If we follow the rules, we will bring infections down. Continue to social distance, wash your hands, use a face covering and isolate as soon as you have symptoms. You can also call 119 to get a test.

Gatherings over 30 people

With COVID-19 infection rates in Kirklees still above the national average, we’re asking people not to hold events that are likely to attract crowds of more than 30 people.

We want to prevent large gatherings from taking place in the borough until rates of COVID-19 infection significantly drop for a sustained period of time and Kirklees is no longer an area of concern. Public health officials believe that large groups of people gathering will increase infections.

Since lockdown started, we’ve refused permission for gatherings on council land for any events that are likely to attract a crowd. However, we now want to work with event organisers to rearrange or cancel any gatherings or events that could attract a crowd of more than 30 people on both public and private land. This has been supported by local partners.

We’re now advising anyone who has organised an event that’s due to take place, or is planning to, to contact them so alternative arrangements can be made to deliver safe events that do not increase rates of infection.

New powers which were introduced by the Government on 24 July 2020, allow councils to take unique local action to control infection rates or outbreaks. These powers allow councils to close premises, cancel events and shut outdoor public spaces as well as other measures. Kirklees Council will look into using these powers to cancel events that could cause a risk if necessary.

We understand the disappointment this may cause to local people and event organisers, but this is something we have to do. This will help to not only protect the health of local people, but to also make sure we avoid a local lockdown which would be a much worse position to be in.

Council areas that have been identified as an area of concern like Kirklees are expected to take additional steps to reduce infections and that’s what we’re doing here.

Information for constituents:

How long will this be in place for?

This cautious approach will continue in the borough until rates of COVID-19 infection significantly drop for a sustained period of time and Kirklees is no longer an area of concern.

 What kind of events should not go ahead?

Any event that we feel is likely to attract a crowd of more than 30 people. This applies to events on both public and private land.

What about sports matches?

We welcome the return of amateur sport and any matches or training can still go ahead providing the guidance given from Government is followed.

However, in Kirklees we are asking that organisers ensure that more than 30 attendees are not present. Local sports governing bodies and sports league secretaries will be contacted with guidance and advice on how to manage this.

We understand that for some people taking part in sport that their parents or carers may need to attend with them and our advice is that they social distance from people not from their household.

If you’re an organiser of any sporting activity or event, please contact us if you’d like further advice.

How will this be enforced?

Councils have recently been handed new powers to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 locally. This includes new enforcement powers to cancel any events that pose a risk of infection.

What should I do if I have organised an event that’s due to take place?

Anyone planning to organise an event – or already has – should contact Kirklees Council to see whether alternative arrangements can be made to deliver safe events that do not increase rates of infection.

Community response

Public Protection Community Engagement

Over the past eight days, a range of staff from Cohesion, Community Plus, Wellness, Safer Kirklees and Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing have been out and about across areas of Kirklees to talk to local people and businesses about Covid-19.  They’ve been sharing key messages about the ongoing importance of social distancing, handwashing, getting tested if you have symptoms, wearing face coverings on public transport and in shops, as well as asking questions that will help build a more detailed picture of local concerns and issues.

We have a dedicated team from Public Protection who are visiting premises and working alongside the communities’ team whilst picking up intelligence requests for visits to premises where the regulations are deemed not to be adhered to.

The teams have spoken with people in the community, including local residents, businesses and faith groups. The response has been very positive, and to date, there have been over 1200 surveys completed and over 2000 visits. There are daily briefings for the Community Engagement Teams to share information about any key issues local people have raised, and to feedback how they have been able to reassure and respond to any uncertainties about why or how people should carry on with preventative measures.  They identify any locations where they have concerns around social distancing or other measures that may not be observed and have had detailed conversations with residents and groups about how best to share the stay safe messages across the community.

Libraries recovery update

Kirklees Libraries recovery services are now in full swing.  The team are dealing with book returns at specified sites and are also promoting the Ring and Read offer from 12 libraries with more to come in the next few weeks.  Anyone interested in a selection of books should call 01484 414868 to speak to a member of the library team and discuss their requirements. 

Further details on Kirklees Together.  

Temporary Contemporary, an award-winning project launches a new publication

Volume 1 of Temporary Contemporary, a collaborative project with the school of Art, Design and Architecture, University of Huddersfield, the Markets and Creative Development Teams within Culture & Tourism and based in Queensgate Market is now published online as open access through Huddersfield University Press.

The book documents the first year of exhibitions in Market Gallery, and makes reference to the projects within the other spaces: Market Hardware, the student space for the 3000 school students, the Growing Cultures creative engagement space, and Market Showcase, which included the vacant stalls within the main hall for local artists and organisations to display works and run workshops.

Download your copy from the Huddersfield University website.