The borough’s civic leaders are urging residents to continue to follow the rules after the government announced legally enforceable measures on household visits.
The plea comes as Blackburn with Darwen Council announced further targeted measures as part of its strategy to control the virus in the borough.
Late last night, the government announced measures that affects the borough, East Lancashire, some parts of West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester.
Council officials are working through the details and will seek further clarity on some aspects of the regulations and guidance. It is understood the measure will be reviewed on a weekly basis.
The Prime Minister has also announced further nationwide measures although many of them are already in place in our borough including advice around shielding.
The situation is fast moving so please continue to visit the Council website, which is frequently updated and links to government information and latest announcements.
These new regulations for the borough have now replaced our local guidance about restricting visitors to help stop the spread of the virus.
The previous measures introduced earlier in the month are having an impact and the borough is headed in the right direction but we are not “out of the woods yet”.
Our local measures including wearing face coverings in all enclosed public spaces will continue.
In addition, today we are announcing the following measures affecting Blackburn with Darwen.
We are encouraging as many people as possible to get tested even if you have no symptoms. However, we are especially encouraging people who may have been feeling ill and had minor viral symptoms not identified as the main COVID-19 symptoms by the government. We are also urging young people (under 30s) to get tested as they are more likely to be asymptomatic (i.e. experiencing no symptoms).
The more we test, the better our understanding of where the virus is in the borough. We are also suggesting who have had a test a while ago and have been feeling unwell to get tested.
We have established a new test and trace system. With our local knowledge and ability to have “boots on the ground”, our system complements the national one. This initially means that any confirmed cases not responding to the national system within 48 hours would be passed to the local authority for follow-up. We are already making contacts with people referred.
We will increase business inspections and visits to give advice and guidance to keep businesses COVID safe. But we will also use new local powers to enforce legislation, which could include closures to keep the public and employees safe.
We are investing in taxis licensed by the borough to keep them COVID safe for both the driver and passengers.
In a joint statement, Professor Dominic Harrison, Director of Public Health, Denise Park, Chief Executive, and Councillor Mohammed Khan, Leader of the Council, said:
We want to thank everyone in the borough who are supporting our efforts to get this virus under control.
Everyone wants a return to a semblance of normality but the priority remains to protect people’s health.
We know the late announcement by the government will have caused concern among our residents. But these new regulations for the borough have now replaced our local guidance about restricting visitors to help stop the spread of the virus.
We know the action we have taken so far and the further government measures have been difficult for people during already very testing times.
But it is having an impact. We are making progress but we are not out of the woods yet.
Today’s measures continue to support our test, test, test mantra and also address specific risks we have in the community.
Testing is a vital part of our overall strategy so we are urging as many people as possible to get tested. However, we are especially encouraging people who may have been feeling ill and had minor viral symptoms not identified as the main COVID-19 symptoms by the government.
We are also urging more young people to get tested as well. While we are testing significantly more than the national average, we want to see even greater number of people having tests to help us with case finding, identifying the people who have the virus but are symptomless.
While we are making progress, we will continue to take whatever action is necessary to control the virus and stem the tide.
As civic leaders we ask all residents and businesses to continue to work with us, continue to follow our advice and guidance and continue to take responsibility. Our key ask remains that people follow the basics of regular hand-washing, maintain social distancing of 2m and no physical greetings (hugs or handshakes).
The Council is part of the Lancashire Resilience Forum, which includes partners such as the NHS, other councils and the police.
You can follow their updates on Twitter: @lancsresilience