Oxford City will be placed in local COVID alert level Tier 2 – High Alert from 00.01 morning on Saturday 31 October 2020, following a recent rise in the number of coronavirus cases in the city.
The latest official figures show the infection rate is 137.1 per 100,000, but these do not reflect the full extent of university positive cases. Once all cases in the city are accounted for the figure is considerably higher.
The change will take effect from 00.01 on Saturday morning, meaning that the new rules will be in place from the early hours of Saturday morning.
Why is Oxford City moving into local COVID alert level Tier 2 - High Alert?
Oxford city will move into Tier 2 (High Alert) as a preventative measure in order to stem the transmission rate and protect our most vulnerable residents.
Over the past three weeks, we have not only seen a continued rise in cases in the city, but increasing evidence of the spread of the virus beyond people in their teens and twenties to older and potentially more vulnerable age groups.
It is evident that the virus is no longer confined to younger people but is now affecting a much wider age range. Hospital admissions have begun to increase as a result.
We know that transmission of the virus takes place largely as a result of inter-household mixing. By moving Oxford city into Tier 2 (High Alert), which prevents households from mixing in indoor settings, we are taking preventative measures to stop the situation from escalating further and to protect our most vulnerable residents. This is particularly important with events such as Halloween, Bonfire Night and Diwali approaching, when many households will be planning to come together to socialise.
Taking action taken now will reduce the risk of wider cross-community transmission. We all have a responsibility for ourselves, to protect each other and support our communities.
Here is what you need to know
Following Oxford City moving into local COVID alert level Tier 2 - High Alert:
- You must not meet socially with anyone you don’t live with in an indoor setting, unless they are in your support bubble. This includes in your home or inside a pub or restaurant.
- Overnight stays are only allowed if they are with your own household or support bubble.
- You can meet people outdoors, including in a garden, but the rule of six still applies. Meeting in groups larger than six is against the law.
- If you live in a high alert level area you also cannot meet indoors with people outside of the area, unless exceptions apply.
- Work from home if you can.
- Aim to reduce the number of journeys you make where possible for access to work or an education setting. If you need to use public transport, do so on off-peak times.
- Pubs, restaurants, and other hospitality venues remain open but will only offer table service. You must only go to these venues with those in your household or support bubble and you must wear a face covering at all times, except when you’re sitting down to eat or drink. Staff will also wear face coverings during their shift.
- Pubs, restaurants and other hospitality venues will close at 10pm. Restaurants will be allowed to carry on doing deliveries after 10pm.
- Exercise classes can continue outdoors but indoor classes are only permitted if it’s possible to avoid mixing with people outside your household or support bubble. Exercise classes for young people or people with disabilities are allowed.
- Schools, colleges, universities and places of worship remain open
- Professional childcare arrangements can continue and informal childcare arrangements for under 14s can continue in private homes. These must be done by creating a childcare bubble with one other household. If you provide childcare for more than one family, your household must now decide on just one family to support.
- Friends or family who do not live with you and are not part of a support or childcare bubble must not visit your home to help with childcare. Childcare bubbles are to be used to provide childcare only, and not for the purpose of social mixing between households.
- The maximum number of people who can attend wedding ceremonies and receptions is 15 people. Funerals can still allow a maximum of 30 people.
- Face coverings are compulsory in many settings. This includes on public transport for the entire journey, in taxis and public hire vehicles, in shops, banks, cinemas, galleries, and places of worship. You should also wear a face covering when you cannot keep a safe distance from others. Read more on face covering guidance.
- Police can issue fines to those who refuse to comply with the rules such as failing to wear a face covering if you do not have an exemption, breaking the rule of six, holding an illegal gathering of over 30 people, or breaking self-isolation rules. Fines will also apply to business breaking COVID-19 rules, and the City Council has enforcement powers on businesses.
- If you have been the victim of crime, or are feeling threatened, controlled or abused at home, help is available. You can still make any journeys you need to keep you and your family safe, and you can meet with people outside your bubble to get help.
These restrictions are in addition to the wider COVID-19 guidance
- Hands – wash your hands regularly and for 20 seconds
- Face – wear a face covering in indoor settings where social distancing may be difficult, and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet
- Space – stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with where possible, or 1 metre with extra precautions in place (such as wearing face coverings or increasing ventilation indoors)
This guidance is for people who are fit and well. There is separate guidance for:
Message from Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of Oxford City Council
I know that many residents in Oxford City will be worried about what this means for them. In Oxford, we are being asked to make some small but important changes in behaviour. Thankfully Oxford is not yet at the levels seen in some other parts of the country, but if we don’t act now we could be just weeks behind northern cities. If everyone plays their part by sticking to the new rules, we hope we can keep life as close as possible to how it has been for the last few months and avoid more stringent measures being put in place.
You can still meet outdoors (within the rule of six), businesses can still operate, schools are still open. These are the cornerstones of our lives – family, work and friends. I’m asking everyone to make sure they know the rules and to stick to them: wear a face covering, keep a safe distance, only socialise outdoors, isolate if you have symptoms. If you need help, please ask for support. Family, friends, communities and the council are all here to help you do the right thing.
The virus doesn’t stick to borders. We know that cases are increasing in all ages and all areas of the county, and we ask, if you live in another district of Oxfordshire, that you treat the risk of infection with the same respect as we are doing in the city.
However, I do want to put on the record that this is not the decision that leaders in local government and our local NHS recommended and asked for. Our Director of Public Health advised government, on the basis of local data, to put the whole county in Tier 2. This has been ignored. The decision to put Oxford alone into Tier 2 is shocking, when the spread and case numbers outside the city are also of grave concern, and when so many people commute into our city. Those responsible for not protecting communities in the rest of Oxfordshire need to be held accountable for their actions to block a measure intended to save lives locally.
Help and support
As Oxford City goes into local COVID alert level Tier 2 - High Alert, the City Council and community organisations can support residents needing help as a result of the new rules. This support ranges from help with practical tasks like shopping and collecting prescriptions, support with financial hardship, telephone buddying to tackle loneliness, and support for businesses. Residents needing help can call the council on 01865 249 811 or visit www.oxford.gov.uk/coronavirus