Statement from Bristol COVID-19 Local Engagement Board, Health Protection Advisory Group and Bristol City Partners:
Our fight against coronavirus has been long, challenging and exhausting for everyone. We know that everyone has had to make a sacrifice. Now we are seeing lives and livelihoods are being disrupted once again - the virus is thriving as people gather indoors and the cold weather sets in.
The virus continues to circulate widely in our communities, impacting individuals, families, businesses and some of our most vulnerable communities and, together, we must take action.
We are not in the same place we were last year. Thankfully, due to the successful rollout of the vaccination programme, many more people have a strong layer of protection against becoming severely unwell from the virus.
In Bristol, 77% of people over 16 have had one dose of a vaccine, and 71% of people over 16 have had both doses of a vaccine. However, this does not mean the virus still can’t be passed on to others – many of our younger population, frontline workers and those most vulnerable are still at risk of becoming unwell.
Bristol must prepare for what is likely to be a very challenging winter – for us as individuals and families, but also for our NHS and social care colleagues, our schools, universities and colleges and our local business.
Our frontline NHS and health staff are still under considerable pressure, and we ask that you be patient with staff in hospitals, surgeries or care homes, where pressures are resulting in longer waits – they are doing their best in tough circumstances.
Our businesses, community organisations and social enterprises are still at risk of closure due to staff shortages.
Over the winter, our health and care systems, workers and individuals are likely to be additionally vulnerable to other cold weather pressures such as flu and winter bugs.
The evidence tells us:
- Wearing a face covering reduces the chance of infection.
- Testing identifies positive cases, and people who are positive and have no symptoms
- Isolation prevents transmission
- Fresh air reduces transmission
- Vaccination reduces harm and saves lives.
And as a city, with our neighbours and wider partners, Bristol expects and strongly recommends the adoption of these simple precautionary measures to protect us all:
- If you are unwell, reduce the spread of infection by recovering at home.
- If you have symptoms of COVID-19, self-isolate at home and book a PCR test.
- Make use of the offer of free lateral flow (rapid) testing – uptake in Bristol has been very high which is really positive.
- Wear a face covering (unless exempt) – in crowded areas like supermarkets and in shops, on public transport and indoor settings.
- Respect one another’s space – mild illness for you could be very serious for someone else, so please think of others when you’re out and about.
- Meet outdoors where you are able, or if you’re meeting indoors, make sure to open a window or door to let in blasts of fresh air – this is particularly important when you’re meeting or socialising with people or family members who may be more vulnerable to severe illness.
- If you are invited for your annual flu jab, or you’re contacted about a COVID-19 booster vaccination, do not delay in booking your appointment.
- Take additional precautions and consider the risks of visiting elderly people or family members in care homes.
- We expect and recommend people be kind and empathetic towards one another – we are all in this together, and must support one another through what is likely to be another tough winter.
Thank you for everything you have done and continue to do to protect our city.
We are kind. We are safe. We are Bristol.