Pause at step 3 of the COVID-19 response – Spring 2021 (Roadmap)

The government has announced a 4-week pause at Step 3 of the COVID-19 Response - Spring 2021 (Roadmap).

We previously reported on the 4 step approach to easing of lockdown. The article can be accessed here:

Step 3 restrictions remain in place, and you should follow the(COVID-19) Coronavirus restrictions: what you can and cannot do  guidance , which explains what you can and cannot do.

It is expected that England will move to Step 4 on 19 July 2021, though the data will be reviewed after 2 weeks in case the risks have reduced. The government will continue to monitor the data and the move to Step 4 will be confirmed one week in advance.

Some restrictions will change from 21 June 2021. The ones most relevant to the local VCSE sector is changes to out-of-school settings – you can organise domestic residential visits for children in consistent groups of up to 30 children. This replaces the current limit of 6 people or 2 households.

The revised (COVID-19) Coronavirus restrictions: what you can and cannot do can be accessed here.

Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care delivered a speech in the House of Commons about the easing of coronavirus restrictions staying at step 3 for the time being. In his speech he explained that the Delta variant now accounts for over 90 per cent of cases across the country. The Delta variant spreads more easily, and there’s evidence that the risk of hospitalisation is higher than for the previously dominant Alpha variant. Case numbers are rising, up 64 per cent on last week in England.  The whole purpose of vaccination is to break the link between cases, and hospitalisations and deaths. However, over the last week they have seen hospitalisations start to rise, up 50 per cent.

The full speech can be accessed here.

The Secretary of State then went on to talk about surge testing. Whilst he didn’t mention Leicester City in this speech, the  surge testing guidance was updated on 8 June 2021 to include the geographical area of Leicester City.

Surge testing is increased testing (including door-to-door testing in some areas) and enhanced contact tracing in specific locations in England and can look different depending on assessment of local requirements. It involves testing of people who do not have any symptoms of COVID-19. In areas where the new COVID-19 variant first identified in India, also known as the Delta variant, is spreading fastest, there is additional guidance available to help stop the spread and there may also be targeted activity to drive vaccine uptake amongst eligible cohorts.

The additional guidance in surge testing areas includes:

  • Get both doses of the vaccine when you are offered it, and encourage others to do so as well
  • Participate in surge testing in your local area, whether you are vaccinated or not
  • Self-isolate immediately if you have any symptoms of COVID-19 (a high temperature, a new, continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste) or if you’ve tested positive for COVID-19

You should also take particular caution when meeting anyone outside your household or support bubble. Wherever possible, you should try to:

  • Meet outside rather than inside where possible
  • Keep 2 metres apart from people that you do not live with (unless you have formed a support bubble with them), this includes friends and family you don’t live with
  • Minimise travel in and out of affected areas

You should also:

  • Get tested twice a week for free and isolate if you are positive
  • Continue to work from home if you can
  • Refer to local health advice for your area

You should get tested for COVID-19. This includes:

  • Arranging to have a PCR test if you have symptoms of COVID-19
  • Getting regular rapid lateral flow tests if you do not have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • Arranging a testing or managed quarantine package if you plan to travel overseas.

Further details including links to local health advice can be accessed here.