Government decision is 'not about restrictions', council leader says as residents reassured over coronavirus
The decision to place Norfolk on the government’s coronavirus watchlist is not about restrictions, the leader of the county council has said.
Following the coronavirus outbreak at Banham Poulty in Attleborough, the Secretary of State has decided to make Norfolk an area of enhanced support.
Norfolk’s director of public health Louise Smith has said the evidence so far suggests the coronavirus outbreak has been contained.
The rising rate of infection in Breckland, Great Yarmouth and Norwich were directly linked to workers and their households, but the rate has remained steady in West Norfolk.
Andrew Proctor, leader of the county council, told this morning’s Cabinet meeting: “My message to everyone today is clear. Now is the time for togetherness. Everyone in Norfolk has a role to play by following the guidelines, together we can protect ourselves, protect others and protect Norfolk.
“We welcome the Secretary of State’s decision on Friday to make Norfolk an area of enhanced support following the coronavirus outbreak at Banham Poultry.
“I also want to be very clear in this, this is definitely not about restrictions, it is all about support, providing us with even more capabilities to protect Norfolk. There will be no extra rules affecting how any of us live and work in Norfolk, or for that matter to visitors to Norfolk.
“The decision by the Government will allow us to draw on extra support, will provide swifter data and testing and allow us to respond and act faster to support our local efforts.
“The communities of Norfolk have been through a lot and I would like to reassure them that Norfolk is still a safe place in which to live, work and visit.”
As well as quicker access to data, the county will have access to mobile testing units, priority for test results and new track and trace resources as partof the support.
Mr Proctor added: "My take on this is that if we can carry this on in the future we can set up our own teams and resources to continue management and containing the outbreak, and be ready should any others occur."
He reiterated that people should isolate where necessary to keep the spread of the infection as low as possible and to support the public health teams working on the outbreak.
He also thanked Dr Smith and her team at Public Health for the way they have managed the outbreak and the whole situation over the last six months.
The council leader said it is important to get back to normal, referring to school pupils finally seeing friends and teachers for the first time in nearly six months this week.
Councillor Tom FitzPatrick stated it is “not an occasion for panic” due to the outbreak being contained.
The county's director of public health has said businesses are being encouraged to instigate preventative measures following the outbreak at Banham Poultry.
Dr Louise Smith said colleagues at Breckland Council are exploring specific measures in response to the Attleborough outbreak, which stands at 119 Covid-19 cases.
District councils in the county have also distributed tool kits to over 25,000 people to ensure premises are safe.
Regarding Banham, she added: "The early evidence is that measures had been taken in line with national guidelines and advice but whether that was the case remains outstanding."