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Oxford city moves to Tier 2 COVID restrictions

The new ‘high’ alert is because cases of coronavirus are continuing to rise.

The Government has made the decision to move Oxford into the Tier 2 alert level following further discussions with our local councils and MPs this week.

Rates per 100,000 in Oxford city rose to 137.1 for the week ending October 23rd.

For Oxfordshire as a whole, the rate was 117.5 for the same period. 

The following restrictions come into effect on Saturday morning in Oxford city:

  •  People must not meet socially with anybody outside their household or support bubble in any indoor setting, whether at home or in a public place.
  • People must not meet in a group of more than six outside, including in a garden or other space.
  • People should aim to reduce the number of journeys they make where possible. If they need to travel, they should walk or cycle where possible. If taking public transport, they should plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes.

Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of Oxford City Council, said the move to put Oxford into Tier 2 went against what leaders in local government and our local NHS recommended and asked for - which was for the whole county to move into the higher alert category.

Cllr Brown said: "I know that many residents in Oxford City will be worried about what this means for them. In Oxford, we are being asked to make some small but important changes in behaviour.

”If everyone plays their part by sticking to the new rules, we hope we can keep life as close as possible to how it has been for the last few months and avoid more stringent measures being put in place.

"You can still meet outdoors (within the rule of six), businesses can still operate, schools are still open. These are the cornerstones of our lives - family, work and friends.”

In a statement, the City Council Leader said Oxfordshire’s director of public health advised government, on the basis of local data, to put the whole county in tier 2, which ‘has been ignored.‘

She added: ”The decision to put Oxford alone into tier 2 is shocking, when the spread and case numbers outside the city are also of grave concern, and when so many people commute into our city. Those responsible for not protecting communities in the rest of Oxfordshire need to be held accountable for their actions to block a measure intended to save lives locally."

Oxfordshire's six councils, the chief executives of Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, and the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership had wanted the whole county to be placed under tougher restrictions, but the Government refused for a second time.

It means that the rest of Oxfordshire is still at tier 1 or 'medium' level, but figures are still rising.

Cases per 100,000 are 151.5 in Cherwell, 92.2 in South Oxfordshire, 91.2 in Vale of White Horse and 109.4 in West Oxfordshire.

Bruno Holthof, Chief Executive Officer at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: "We have moved from a position of low and stable hospital admission rates over the summer to one in which admission rates are increasing. We know there is a time lag between rising cases and an increase in hospital admissions, and so we expect to see a further increase in hospitalisation rates over the coming weeks."

Councillor Ian Hudspeth, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said: "We remain seriously concerned about the rise in the number of cases across the county, and not just Oxford. We are deeply disappointed that despite clear evidence showing the virus is now spreading to older and more vulnerable communities across the county, our request that Oxfordshire as a whole should move to tier 2 was not approved. 

"My five fellow local authority leaders and I firmly believe this is a necessary step to stem the spread of the virus, protect our communities and the Oxfordshire economy.

“Our position has the full backing of the chief executives of our NHS partners and the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, and we will continue to push for a move for the rest of the county to happen as soon as possible based on the epidemiological evidence."

Residents in Oxford are being urged to follow the new rules and help reduce the spread of the virus.

Dr Kiren Collison, GP and Clinical Chair of Oxfordshire CCG, said: "We need everyone in Oxford to make sure that they follow these new rules so that we can carry on being able to provide care to those who need it. If we don't act now, the rise in number of patients with coronavirus will put a greater burden on GP services and the wider NHS which could have serious consequences for people who need our help."

Areas in Yorkshire and the Humber, the Midlands, the East of England and the South East are among 16 regions which are moving into Tier 2 on Saturday from 00.01.


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