COVID update from the Council (12th April 2021)

Everyone in Blackburn with Darwen will be able to access free, regular, rapid coronavirus testing from this Friday, April 9th.

The offer is being made as part of a new National scheme

Rapid testing for people without symptoms using lateral flow devices has been available locally for several months but the offer has been limited to those leaving home to work or living in the vicinity of any of the Council’s rapid testing hubs.

And now, as well as rapid tests currently available from the three established sites at King George’s Hall, Ewood Park and Work at Over Darwen House, people without symptoms will be able to get kits in order to test twice weekly in a number of extra ways too:

Community Collect – pick up kits in person (no appointment needed) from the rapid test hubs at King George’s Hall, Ewood Park and Work at Over Darwen House during opening hours or from Old Bank Lane, Blackburn College and Railway Road PCR test sites after 1pm. The Council is also looking to expand the number of local venues where community collect testing kits are available.

Pharmacy Collect service via participating local pharmacies

Order online via national delivery service

The Council is encouraging everyone to take up the offer and participate in free, regular, rapid coronavirus testing as it prepares for the further easing of restrictions as part of the next stage of the Government’s roadmap from Monday, April 12.

All non-essential retail, outdoor hospitality and more businesses and services will be able to reopen and, as more people are welcomed back into the borough’s two town centres, the new message to the public will be to ‘Test and Go’.

People are encouraged to Test and Go before visiting the shops, hairdressers, outdoor hospitality and as other businesses and services reopen from April 12. The Test and Go call will continue at all further stages of the roadmap and easing of restrictions.

New signage will be going up at rapid testing hubs with a reminder of how quick, easy and free rapid testing is with no booking required and results available in around 30 minutes.

King George’s Hall and Work at Over Darwen House will be operating under new times of 7.30am to 3pm (Mon-Fri) from this week. The Ewood Park hub will continue to operate 8am-3pm (Mon-Fri).

Those leaving home to work should continue to regularly get tested too.

It remains essential that anyone who gets a positive result from a rapid test result self-isolates immediately, as must other members of their household, while they get a confirmatory PCR test within two days.

As well as the rapid testing offer to residents, the Council’s testing programme for businesses and workplaces continues apace.

The local testing team will not only provide and deliver lateral flow kits and PPE but are also available to support with on-site training and advice on setting up workplace testing.Local firms are encouraged to sign up to participate in regular, free testing to help protect their employees and stop the spread of the virus.

The Council also continues to roll out its testing programme for schools.All secondary school and college pupils are given home test kits and asked to regularly test themselves twice a week at home and report results to NHS Test and Trace, as well as their school or college.

Let’s keep on track’ ahead of further lifting of restrictions

Non-essential retail, hairdressers, gyms and other businesses and council services are set to reopen on Monday, April 12 in a boost to residents and the local economy – but as services start to welcome people back, the Council are urging caution in a bid to return to a more normal way of life.

From next week, pubs and restaurants can also reopen outdoors and weddings of up to 15 people and funerals of up to 30 people can go ahead. Overnight stays with your own household or support bubble will again be allowed and activities for children and indoor parent and child groups can recommence.

Step three, not before Monday May 17, could see restrictions ease further but the milestones set out can only be met if we all play our part and continue to follow the rules in order to meet the Government’s four tests for easing restrictions.

Dominic Harrison, Director of Public Health for Blackburn with Darwen, said:

Our transmission rates continue on an overall downward trajectory and we’re now seeing decreasing hospital admissions, which is great, but the borough’s rate is still the second highest in Lancashire and remains higher than other parts of the country. So, as restrictions continue to ease, it’s up to us all to keep on track and keep the virus under control.

Let’s support each other by following the hands, face, space, fresh air advice. Please also take up the free, regular, rapid coronavirus testing offer that’s been announced this week. ‘Test and Go’ before visiting shops, hairdressers, when eating and drinking outdoors from April 12 and at all further stages of the easing of restrictions. And when invited, please come forward to be vaccinated.

As part of step two of the roadmap, more Council services will also be able to resume with covid-control measures in place.

These include reception centres at Blackburn and Darwen Town Halls and 10 Duke Street, Gym and Pool services at Blackburn Sports and Leisure Centre and Darwen Leisure Centre for members and PAYG users. All sessions must be pre-booked.

Blackburn Library, Darwen Library, Cherry Tree Library and Roman Road Library will also reopen from Monday 12th.

Let’s keep on track, stick to the rules and avoid any unnecessary risks. If we all keep doing what we can to  lower transmission rates, restrictions can continue to ease and we can keep enjoying seeing things moving in the right direction.