Blackburn with Darwen’s Director of Public Health has today announced new local measures to help control the spread of Coronavirus.
These measures, specific to Blackburn with Darwen, are aimed at helping avoid a local lockdown by getting a grip on the rise in cases of the virus.
From today, and for the next month, Dominic Harrison recommends everyone in the borough follows these five measures:
1. A limit of two people from the same household allowed to visit another household
At the moment national guidance allows two families to meet indoors as long as they keep to social distancing guidance. We are asking residents to limit the numbers of people meeting indoors to people who live in the house plus only two members from a second household at any one time.
2. Wearing cloth face coverings in all enclosed public spaces
All residents will be strongly recommended to wear a cloth face covering (or non-surgical mask) in all enclosed public spaces. This means in all shops, workplaces, libraries, museums, health centres, hair and beauty salons etc.
3. Greeting and embracing
Rather than give handshakes or a hug, we’re asking people to only bump elbows with anyone outside of their immediate family. If we all do it, no one will be offended or think we’re being rude!
4. Support for small shops
We are stepping up our Public Protection advice and support to small shops across the borough to ensure that measures such as wearing face coverings, social distancing, good hygiene practice and increased ventilation are being followed to help reduce the risk of virus spread in these businesses.
We are doing more targeted testing this week, with the arrival of a mobile testing unit at Witton Park Academy in addition to the testing facility at Royal Blackburn Hospital. You don’t need to have symptoms to be tested – this will help us with case finding, identifying people who have no symptoms but who carry the virus.
Dominic Harrison commented:
“We know that people have been worried by the release of figures that show an increase in Coronavirus cases in Blackburn with Darwen, and don’t want a second lockdown to be introduced.
“The Council does not want the borough to be in that position either, which is why we are introducing these new measures to give everyone simple steps they can follow to do their bit to help keep the spread of the virus under control.
“These steps will help and we are appealing to everyone in Blackburn with Darwen to follow them to protect themselves and their loved ones. If we don’t, a local lockdown, like in Leicester, becomes a very real possibility.
“The council is working with the NHS and the wider community on this – it’s up to us all to help each other stick to the advice that’s been given. We can only avoid further lockdown measures if we work together.
“In the next week to 10 days, we will see a rise in the number of cases in the borough due to the increased targeted testing we are doing in communities most at risk, and because we have opened a Pillar 2 testing site next to the hospital last week.
“In another two weeks, if the rates are continuing to rise, we will have to consider reversing some of the national lockdown lifting measures locally one by one until we see a reversal in the current rising trend. It’s up to everyone to make sure we don’t have to do that.”
Blackburn with Darwen is in the top ten list of local authorities that have higher rates of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 than the national average. The borough is currently at a rate of 40 cases per 100,000, making us fourth highest.
The borough also has a higher positivity rate, which is currently 7% – this is the rate of confirmed cases per 100,000 as a percentage of all who take a test. The national average is 2-5%.
Councillor Mohammed Khan, Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council, said:
“I can reassure all local residents that the Council is working with different agencies and organisations across the borough to help get the message out to everyone that life cannot go back to normal just yet, and we must all make sacrifices to avoid a local lockdown.
“We are doing everything we can to get a grip on the virus, and we need everyone in Blackburn with Darwen to pull together to help us. Please continue to do your bit to stick to the rules to protect yourself and your family.”