City leaders urge residents to ‘keep up the fight against COVID-19’ – to avoid local lockdown

With Bristol seeing a rise in weekly COVID-19 cases – city leaders are urging residents to keep up the fight against the virus – and avoid a local lockdown.

And as the Bank Holiday weekend approaches – they stress it’s important for people to continue to maintain social distancing guidelines and avoid illegal parties – for their own and their community’s health.

Although the number of overall cases of COVID-19 in the city remain low, there has been a small but noticeable increase in new cases over the past ten days.

This has prompted the Bristol COVID-19 Local Engagement Board to voice concerns about gatherings of over 30 people planned to happen over the next few days.

Gatherings of particular concern include raves, house parties and other get-togethers, where social distancing can’t be maintained.

Related risks include interactions between people travelling to and from meetings, socialising before and afterwards and then passing the infection on to friends and family in the days that follow.

City leaders have been working with organisers of planned large events to ensure sufficient measures are in place to protect community health.

Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, said: “Against the backdrop of local cases rising and stretched services doing all they can to maintain current restrictions, we’re seeing illegal and unauthorised gatherings on the increase. 

“Where people are getting together in groups without measures in place, sometimes mixing in alcohol, drugs and anti-social behaviour, we have the perfect environment for the virus to thrive. This irresponsible behaviour must stop or we won’t see an end to the rise in cases and the threat of a local lockdown will loom larger.

“Every effort has been taken to keep case numbers low and ensure the spread of the virus in Bristol is prevented where possible. It’s taken a monumental amount of time, personal sacrifice, change and, in some cases, loss, to get so far into the pandemic with so few case numbers compared to other parts of the UK.

“We must persevere and continue to follow approved guidance, apply common sense and protect the lives of others if we’re ever to return to a world free of lockdown.”

Police and Crime Commissioner for Avon and Somerset, Sue Mountstevens, said: “This weekend is the August Bank holiday and, while this would usually be a time when many people would go out to parties and social events to enjoy the last bit of summer, we must be mindful that we are still in the middle of a global health emergency…

“The potential for the R Rate to increase in our area is real and the last thing we want is a localised outbreak that means we have to return to restrictions when other parts of the country are lifting theirs – we’ve seen how difficult this was for people living and working in areas where they’ve had local lockdowns.

“I support the police approach to only use enforcement as a last resort, but make no mistake, the police are prepared to deal robustly with those irresponsible people who intentionally go against the regulations and put people at risk.”