This week we are pleased to bring you updates on the changes to the Covid-19 rules and guidance, the latest Covid data for Leeds, vaccination advice, business support grants and information on staying well this winter.
The most important change has been the government announcement that Plan B restrictions will be lifted in full in England from Thursday 27 January.
The Leader of Leeds City Council, Councillor James Lewis has issued an important and timely reminder to people that although “we know the change in Covid restrictions will have a positive impact on many residents and businesses throughout the city. It is important to remain vigilant and to be considerate to others as our lives and ways of working re-adjust.”
You can read his full comment here.
Update on Leeds and Covid-19
The Covid rate is falling, although it is still high. The Leeds infection rate has decreased to 1296.6 cases per 100k, which is down 35% in a week.
There are still a relatively high number of patients in hospital with Covid. Thankfully, there are fewer people with severe illness as a consequence of Covid, but unfortunately some people continue to suffer and tragically die.
It’s important to remember that the pandemic is not over. Omicron can be serious for some people and the NHS is still under significant pressure. Whilst numbers remain high we advise you to follow safe behaviours to protect yourself and others. Remember to wash your hands, let fresh air in, wear a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces and continue with regular testing and self-isolation if you test positive. It’s also more important than ever to get vaccinated.
Changes to Covid-19 guidance
Following scientific advice that the Omicron wave is likely to have peaked, most restrictions will be lifted. Here is the revised government guidance.
Some changes have already taken place. You are no longer required to work from home and are advised to speak to your employer about returning to the office.
Secondary school pupils and college students don’t need to wear face coverings in classrooms, although they are still required in communal areas.
From next Thursday 27 January face coverings will no longer be compulsory in any public spaces although they are still recommended in crowded and enclosed spaces. Also from this date you will no longer need to show your Covid Pass at venues and events and restrictions on visiting care homes will also be eased. You will still need to self-isolate, but the government is continuing to review this. Keep an eye out for the updated guidance.
More information on the changes will follow in next week’s update.
Get Vaccinated – boost your immunity!
Getting vaccinated offers the best possible protection against becoming ill. Have you had your most recent jab? Walk-in and pop-up vaccine sites in the city centre and shopping districts are proving very popular and there are lots of pop-up clinics to choose from.
If you would like to book in advance, you can book your Covid vaccine here.
If you would prefer to visit a walk-in vaccination clinic, then all the details are can be found here.
National study for Covid-19 antivirals – PANORAMIC
People are being urged to sign up for the PANORAMIC study if they test positive for Covid-19.
The PANORAMIC study has been set up to gather data on how well antiviral treatments for Covid-19 work in a highly vaccinated population before making these treatments available in the NHS.
Anyone aged over 50, or over 18 with certain underlying health conditions, can sign up to join the PANAROMIC study if they have received a positive PCR or lateral flow test and are experiencing Covid-19 symptoms that began in the last five days.
You can sign up to the trial online at www.panoramictrial.org or through calling the freephone number 08081 560017.
Participants will be randomly offered either an antiviral medicine in addition to the current best care the NHS provides; or current best NHS care. Those selected to receive an antiviral medication will receive this in the post to take at home.
For more information on the trial, including the full list of eligible underlying health conditions, visit www.panoramictrial.org
Grants for businesses and charities affected by Covid-19 – still time to apply
Local businesses can apply for Covid-related support grants. This includes one-off grants of up to £6,000 for hospitality, leisure and accommodation businesses (open until 28 February), and discretionary grants of £1k-15k for businesses and charities whose income is being affected by the pandemic (open until 31 January). Until 28 February, eligible taxi and private hire drivers and owners can apply for a free three-year driver licence renewal as part of a scheme announced in March last year.