People in Oxford will be able to get a PCR test as an extra mobile COVID testing unit returns to the city in response to rising COVID cases in the city.
A mobile testing unit is now in place at Radcliffe Square in central Oxford for both residents and members of the university who do not have symptoms. It will be in place for four days until Sunday (12 December) and will operate on a walk-in basis from 10.30am to 6.30pm each day.
COVID cases in Oxfordshire have risen by 20 per cent over the past seven days and are now at their highest ever level, at a rate of 666.7 per 100,000. This surpasses the rate recorded at the peak of the winter wave in early January 2021.
People who have symptoms should book an appointment at one of the COVID symptom testing facilities in Oxfordshire.
The city’s COVID Secure Team will be operating in the city centre and other shopping areas around the city, from mid-morning to early evening, seven days a week.
The team will visit shops and businesses covered by the new regulations to check appropriate measures are in place and are actively managed. This is the same approach as used earlier this year before the country unlocked, and most businesses were supportive of their work.
A small number of businesses were given warnings, and fines were given to the handful of businesses that put people at serious risk by ignoring the rules.
What are the new PLAN B COVID-19 rules?
Several rules have also been reintroduced by the government in response to the latest wave of infections:
- From today, face coverings are mandatory in most public venues, including places of worship, theatres and cinemas. There will be exemptions in venues where it is not practical to wear one, such as when you are eating, drinking or exercising.
- From Monday, 13 December, people should work from home where possible.
- From Wednesday, 15 December, an NHS COVID pass or proof of negative lateral flow test will be required to gain access to major venues such as nightclubs, indoor venues with more than 500 people, unseated outdoor venues with more than 4,000 people, and any venue with more than 10,000 people.
Those who test positive for the virus should ensure they self-isolate for ten days. Anybody who comes into contact with somebody who has tested positive for the new Omicron variant should also self-isolate for ten days, regardless of their vaccination status.
What is a COVID pass?
Anybody aged 18 or over and registered with a GP can get an NHSCOVID pass if they meet any one of the following:
- have had a second vaccination at least two weeks ago
- have had a negative PCR or lateral flow test result in the past 48 hours and reported it on the NHS website
- have had a positive PCR test result in the past six months and finished self-isolating
There is more information regarding the COVID pass on the NHS website.
“Cases across Oxfordshire are rising sharply – higher than the rate of infection we saw back in January. Although we are in a much better situation this winter thanks to the vaccination programme, the number of cases plus this new Omicron variant mean we should not let down our guard, and this is reflected in the new measures that the government announced yesterday.
“Alongside following these new measures, we must all continue to maintain sensible behaviours to bring the virus under control. These include regularly washing our hands, wearing a face-covering in enclosed and crowded spaces, keeping rooms ventilated and testing regularly. Most importantly, we urge everybody to get their booster jab as soon as they can do so.
“In the meantime, this mobile testing unit will allow us to quickly identify cases of those who have the virus but may not yet have symptoms so that we can break the chain of transmission.”
—Ansaf Azhar, Director for Public Health at Oxfordshire County Council
“We’re facing new challenges with Omicron, and the Plan B measures are the practical actions medical experts are recommending right now. Unfortunately, there are already a small number of cases in Oxford, which have been rapidly investigated and responded to by UKHSA with help from the council.
“For your health and your loved ones, please follow the advice. Wear a mask to help cut community transmission, get your NHS passport and use LFD tests before socialising. Make sure you’re fully vaccinated and have received your booster if you’re eligible.
“The City Council’s COVID Secure Team are supporting businesses and their customers to enjoy the city centre safely. Under the new regulations, they will expand the number of businesses that they check to ensure staff and customers are following the new regulations, and alongside Thames Valley Police, they now have authority to enforce measures where needed.”
—Councillor Louise Upton, Cabinet Member for a Safer, Healthier Oxford at Oxford City Council