Cautious approach as country starts to unlock

Council urges “one step at a time” to keep cases low

Main image: The new “Giant’s Feet” which can be seen around the city to mark the first step out of lockdown and remind people about social distancing. Picture Bristol City Council.

Bristol residents are urged to be patient as the city and country begin to unlock from today (8 March).

The city has taken its first cautious step towards easing national COVID-19 restrictions – with the return to schools and colleges of thousands of children and young people this week.

There have also been some changes to some rules on social mixing:

  • From today one person can sit down with another individual from outside their household or bubble for a coffee, drink or picnic outdoors.
  • Care home residents can also receive one nominated visitor.
  • Some university students can return to campuses for practical courses
  • Wrap around care, including sport, for all children
“We do not want to … go back to any further restrictions.”

City leaders have welcomed this first step but are urging people to act wisely and maintain the behaviours needed to keep cases low – and make sure the four-step roadmap to easing national restrictions is a success.

Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees said: “We all want this unlocking to be for the final time. We do not want to be in a position where we must re-introduce or go back to any further restrictions.

“This is all down to each of us taking individual responsibility, and at the same time, working together as one city to take us safely on the journey back to the things and the people we love.

“We have to take things one step at a time. Although this first step in the roadmap offers huge relief for many who have been feeling particularly isolated or lonely during the winter months, we must not take advantage of this period of transition…”

He stressed the important public health message remains the same: We must continue to stay at home and work from home where we can.

If people do need to leave home for work, regular testing is available and they should carry on washing their hands, wearing face coverings and keeping distance from others.

Giant’s Feet mark first step and encourage social distancing

To mark this first step in easing restrictions, stickers of giant’s footprints are being displayed on the ground across the city to encourage social distancing.

The “Giant’s Feet” will be found in different areas of Bristol to encourage residents to keep a two-metre distance from people not in their household, childcare or support bubble.

Director for Public Health Christina Gray said: “It’s really important that as we take this first step in our journey back to the things we love, we’re patient and kind to ourselves and one another.

“If you do decide to meet up with one other person not in your household or support bubble, I urge you to please do so safely. “

With the city’s beauty spots becoming increasingly busy at the weekends, she urged residents where possible to try to find different places nearby to exercise in or visit.

And when having a picnic with someone – she advised people “to bring their own food and avoid sharing cutlery or cups.”

Make use of community testing

She added: “As areas of the city slowly begin to open up bit by bit, we encourage anyone who is eligible to make use of our community testing programme. This will help us to quickly identify cases where people don’t have symptoms and stop chains of transmission…”

Groups eligible for regular lateral flow (rapid) testing includes those who have to leave home for work, children at school and college and university students – as well as adults in households where children are attending education settings.

COVID marshals are continuing to patrol busy areas, offering guidance and reminders to residents and businesses on the latest national rules in place.

Working with Avon and Somerset Police, recent patrols have focussed on areas which are becoming more crowded during warmer months – such as the Harbourside, Queen Square and Whiteladies Road.

Over 460 businesses have been visited in the past week, with a further 100 subjected to checks on compliance with COVID-19 guidelines.

For more information about the different types of lateral flow (rapid) tests on offer in Bristol, visit the Bristol City Council website:  https://www.bristol.gov.uk/coronavirus/guide-to-rapid-testing

For further guidance on the Government’s four-step roadmap to easing national lockdown restrictions visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-response-spring-2021

Support is on offer through the We Are Bristol helpline for anyone who needs emergency assistance getting food, medicines or guidance about financial support to self-isolate. Call 0800 694 0184 for free if you need help.