This is exactly the time that across Swindon we need to be on our guard with the further easing of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions this week. As people mix and resume those activities now permitted by the rules, the risk of infection increases.

Remember coronavirus restrictions still remain in place across the country, including for everyone who has been vaccinated. If there’s one thing we have learnt in this pandemic, it’s that the situation can change quickly. We can make progress climbing a ladder, only to see that quickly slip away as we slide down a snake.

As of 19 May, across the UK there were 3,424 cases of the B1.617.2 variant first identified in India. Cases are still predominantly affecting the North West of England – particularly Bolton – and London, but we are seeing clusters of cases across the country. At the time of sending this newsletter (21 May), we don’t currently have any cases of the B1.617.2 variant in Swindon to be concerned about. But that may change at any time and we continue to monitor the situation closely, working with Public Health England.

The Government has said that the early evidence suggests that the B1.617.2 variant passes on more easily from person to person than the B.117 variant, first discovered in Kent. But the Government has increasing confidence that the vaccines are effective against it – which is why it’s so important that everyone comes forward to get the vaccine when they’re invited to.

Given the increased risk of transmitting COVID-19, we need to take particular caution when meeting anyone outside our household or support bubble. This will keep yourself and others safe. In particular, wherever possible, you should try to:

  • Meet outside rather than inside
  • Keep two metres apart from people that you don’t live with (unless you have formed a support bubble with them), this includes friends and family you don’t live with
  • Get tested twice a week for free
  • Continue to work from home if you can
  • Get vaccinated when you are offered it, and encourage others to do so as well

Swindon: it’s up to all of us.