Over the past week, I have been working from home having received a notification from the NHS track and trace system, despite testing negative and being one of the over 33million double vaccinated people. So I welcomed the news when Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, announced that from August 16 those of us who are double jabbed will not have to isolate as I did this past week. Similarly, children and young people under 18 will not have to isolate if they are pinged for having close contact with a Covid-positive person. The Education Secretary said in such instances people will be encouraged to take a PCR test, which, if positive will mean a period of isolation. This new, pragmatic approach to isolation will help us keep more kids in school and remain focused on catching up on lost learning. A big thank you to Stuart Edwards, Principal at Midhurst Rother and his team for running one of the test pilots for this new method.
These announcements are part of The Prime Minister’s five-point plan, which will take us to our fourth and final step of the Roadmap on July 19. The final go-ahead will be given on Monday 12th and will bring about some big changes, such as the removal of restrictions on social contact, the one-metre plus rule, and the limits on care home visitors. Meanwhile, all businesses will be able to reopen and the caps on sports and events will be lifted, which is hugely important to our area’s local economy. Of course, there will be clear guidance on all these measures, as we move away from legal restrictions, so people can make their own informed decisions about how to manage the virus.
This is a massive step, and it is only possible thanks to our brilliant NHS, and our historic vaccination programme, which is one of the highest proportions of adults vaccinated in Europe. It is expected that by July 19 every adult will have had the chance for their first dose and two thirds will have had their second.
It is important to remember, that the pandemic is not over and that cases will continue to rise over the coming weeks, although thanks to the vaccine wall, they come with far fewer hospitalisations and deaths. We have to balance the risk against the impact of enforced measures on people’s livelihoods, health and mental health. Plus there’s a clear benefit in taking this action now during the summer and the school holiday when the virus is at a disadvantage.
This week we also celebrated 73 years of our NHS – so I wanted to say a big thank you to everyone who works on the front lines and behind the scenes to keep us all going. I don’t know what we’d do without you, especially over the past 16 months – so thank you!