No room for complacency

West Midlands councils today warned there is no room for complacency as public health teams continue their efforts to prevent further COVID-19 lockdowns across the region.

The number of cases per 100,000 population for the seven metropolitan authorities dropped from 13.1 in the seven days up to and including 27 July to 11.5 for the seven days up to and including 1 August. Those figures are significantly lower than the rates that have prompted new lockdowns across parts of northern England and Aberdeen in the last week.

Even so, the leaders of Solihull, Birmingham, Coventry, Sandwell, Dudley, Walsall and Wolverhampton councils insist businesses and individuals must continue to play their part in reducing the risk of a further significant spike.

Speaking after the weekly meeting of West Midlands council leaders, the Leader of Solihull Council, Cllr Ian Courts, said: “We’ve seen how quickly things can change in Leicester, parts of northern England and now Aberdeen, so we can’t afford to take our eye off the ball.

“That’s why we’re working closely across the region, sharing data and intelligence, to help tackle this. But we will only succeed if every person, every community, business and organisation plays a part. For example, we need pubs and restaurants to properly maintain records of staff, customers and visitors for NHS Test and Trace in the event of an outbreak.

“We need businesses to contact public health the moment a case is identified. This reduces the risk to staff and customers and often means the case can be managed quickly and without significant impact on the business. Some are doing this, but sadly not all and that could have devastating consequences.”

The seven councils are now:

  • Supporting employers to be COVID-safe and working with them to rapidly engage with public health teams once a case is identified.
  • Targeting work encouraging young people to stay COVID-alert, especially when socialising with friends and family.
  • Focussing on specific business sectors, especially pubs and banqueting suites, taxis and supermarkets to ensure these businesses are doing everything possible to protect customers and staff.
  • Piloting additional testing approaches in different areas to increase the uptake of testing and better understand the pattern of the disease in our communities.
  • Working with community partners and local media partners to ensure key messages on keeping COVID-safe are accessible in multiple languages and formats.

Cllr Courts added: “We must all continue to do everything we can to protect our families, friends, neighbours and colleagues right across Birmingham and the wider West Midlands. Our public health teams are working hard to minimise the risk of further lockdowns and every single one of us needs to help them.”