On Monday (29 March) we reached the next step in the easing of lockdown restrictions.
These new rules allow for a limited amount of mixing outdoors (including in private gardens) with either an additional household or in a group of up to six people. I’m sure many of you will be looking forward to finally being able to safely meet with friends and family in the fresh air, over the bank holiday weekend. Swindon has plenty of country parks and open spaces for you to enjoy a picnic or go on walks with friends.
With the stay at home guideline lifted, we should now be minimising our travel. If you have to travel this weekend, please bear in mind that road, rail and other forms of public transport are likely to be busier than normal. Remember to follow the Hands. Face. Space and Fresh Air guidelines to keep yourself, your friends and your family safe.
Our COVID-19 case rate is higher than the England average, so it’s important we don’t become complacent over the Easter break. Please make sure you are following the guidelines so that we do not see a further increase in cases over the coming weeks and months.
Swindon: it’s up to all of us to make this lockdown our last.
Latest COVID-19 case rate data
From 22-28 March, there were 151 new COVID-19 cases in Swindon, down from 167 between 16-22 March.
From 22-28 March, our case rate was 68 per 100k. The South West average was 29 per 100k and 53 per 100k for England.
As of today (1 April), 70,000 Covid-19 vaccines have been administered at the STEAM Museum.
In total, more than half a million vaccinations have been administered across Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire with 91 per cent of those in the top nine priority groups having had their first dose.
If you're eligible to have your vaccine but haven't had it yet, you can either book it online or call NHS 119.
We’d like to say a big ‘thank you’ to the staff and army of volunteers who have been involved in helping us reach this landmark.
The Test and Trace Support payment scheme has been extended and will now be available to qualifying parents and guardians, who need to take time off work to care for a child who is self-isolating, and who will lose income as a result. Those who are eligible can apply for a one-off, lump sum payment of £500 for each period of self-isolation.
For parents or guardians to qualify to receive the payment, they must meet the eligibility criteria and be in receipt of at least one of a number of specified benefits.
The Test and Trace Support scheme is just one form of financial support available to residents whose income has been affected by coronavirus. You can find information on all the available support here.
Over 4,500 children who receive means tested free school meals will be eligible for the Holiday Activities and Food programme this Easter, which helps provide access to fun activities and healthy food to children during the school holidays. If you haven’t already applied ahead of the Easter holidays, visit our website for more information on the scheme and how to apply.
Although lockdown restrictions have been slightly eased, you should still be minimising travel as much as possible.
If you have to travel over the bank holiday:
Plan ahead, avoiding busy times and routes.
Regularly wash or sanitise your hands, wear a face covering and keep your distance from others. Where possible also try to keep windows open to allow fresh air in.
If you're travelling by car, you should avoid sharing a car with anyone outside of your household or support bubble. If this isn’t possible, you should open the windows, wear a face covering, clean the touchpoints and sit as far away from people outside your household as possible.
Guidance for the Clinically Extremely Vulnerable has changed
If you are classed as Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV), you no longer need to shield. A copy of the letter that the Government sent to all CEV residents can be viewed here.
It is still important that you continue to keep the number of social interactions low and try to limit the amount of time you spend in places where you are unable to maintain social distancing.
You may have some anxieties about now being able to leave home for the first time in over a year. Anxiety is a perfectly natural and it’s okay for you to feel like this. Take a look at the Every Mind Matters website to find useful tips and advice on how to look after your mental wellbeing.
Poll cards for the local elections on Thursday, 6 May have been landing on doorsteps all week. This year, some polling station locations may be different to usual due to the pandemic, so it’s more important than ever that you look out for your poll card and the information included on it.
To make sure you can vote in this year’s local elections, register before 19 April. If you’d prefer to vote by post or proxy (when someone votes on your behalf), you can do so. The deadline to apply for a postal vote is 5pm on 20 April and the deadline for a proxy is 5pm on 27 April.
You can find more information about the 2021 local elections on our website.
Read the latest updates from the New Eastern Villages (NEV) development
Several road schemes are underway as part of the New Eastern Villages (NEV) development, including White Hart junction and Gablecross roundabout. The latest edition of the NEV monthly newsletter was issued yesterday (31 March) – have a read to find out the latest and you can sign up to the dedicated NEV newsletter here.