We will get through this together, say community leaders

Councillor Heather Asker

Saffron Walden mayor Heather Asker - Credit: CELIA BARLETT PHOTOGRAPHY

Community strength and local support will get us through the new Covid wave of infection which has forced a third national lockdown, community leaders have said.

Saffron Walden Town Council Mayor Heather Asker said: "Having fought so hard in the run up to Christmas, against all odds, we're back again in another lockdown.

"However, the positive attitude of our local businesses, market traders and residents to march on, is unsurpassed.

"We can still support our local enterprises by using the click & collect services recently adopted, we can shop responsibly in the open air at our fabulous food stalls on the market Tuesdays and Saturdays and continue to be supportive and thoughtful to others as we go about our business on a daily basis.

"I am proud to be a part of this community and thank everyone for all their hard work and efforts."

Shara Vickers, chair of BID and director Faye in the council chambers, with the recovery packs whic

Shara Vickers, chair of Saffron Walden BID - Credit: Celia Bartlett

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Shara Vickers, chair of Saffron Walden Business Improvement District, said: "As we start our third national lockdown, we would like to highlight the strength of our community. If we pull together to adhere and follow the rules then once again our amazing town can thrive when restrictions are lifted. 

"Saffron Walden town is here for you during this lockdown. 

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"All of our businesses have been working hard to provide delivery and click and collect options for you.

"Most of the restaurants, cafes and pubs offer a takeaway option so you can enjoy their delicious fares in the safety of your own home. Our wonderful shops are also offering Covid safe click and collect or delivery options to help with all of your retail needs.

"Please check www.supportsaffronwalden.co.uk for up-to-date information on opening hours and collection options. Please support our local businesses and they will continue to give you the excellent customer service you are used to.

"Please also have a look at Click it Local. It offers you a same day or next day delivery service for many of the shops and foodie places in town. https://www.clickitlocal.co.uk/uttlesford

"We understand that these are tough times at the moment and our local businesses are here to help you through this."

The booklet called Embracing The New Normal Uttlesford Community Response Hub has been put up on Saffron Walden Town Council's noticeboards by Tourist Information Centre staff. It contains contacts and practical tips.

Saffron Walden's market went ahead on Tuesday (Jan 5) with limited stalls, and the town council said they were continuing to monitor and review the situation ahead of Saturday's planned market.

Announcing the third lockdown, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said action had to be taken as numbers were rising through a new variant, and there was increased pressure on the NHS. Schools have gone to remote and online learning, except for children of key workers and vulnerable children.

Uttlesford's figures jumped from 315.4 cases per 100,000 per week on December 17 to 578.3 on December 24, according to data released on December 31. Braintree's data rose from 597.6 to 867.0, and Chelmsford's rose from 603.7 to 877.8 for the same periods. 

As of December 29, there were 1,107 beds occupied by confirmed Covid-19 patients in Essex hospital trusts. This equates to 32 percent of trust capacity and is 45 percent higher compared to bed occupancy one week previously.

Kemi Badenoch MP

Kemi Badenoch MP - Credit: Kemi Badenoch

MP Kemi Badenoch said: "On a call with our local public health director, councillors and Essex MPs I was given an update on the number of cases in Chelmsford and Uttlesford which as many of you will be aware are increasing at an exponential rate.

"I recognise the announcement will have left many residents feeling deflated and uncertain about the next few months. However our situation is not different to similar countries across Europe and we have to make these difficult decisions in order to protect our local health service, especially given the challenges they have faced over the last year.

"This lockdown is different to those last year, with the vaccination roll-outs well underway, we can be reassured that restrictions will be lifted. Whilst the lockdown restrictions are similar to those we were under in Tier 4, they reinforce how important it is we adhere to them and if residents have any questions, do get in touch.

"I am very concerned about the implications these restrictions will have on businesses, schools and universities, amongst others. I know it has been very difficult for so many of you to make decisions when the situation is evolving so quickly. I would like to thank everyone, particularly those working across every education setting in our constituency for your continued hard work and adapting so promptly.

"The Chancellor has announced £4.6 billion of targeted support for businesses impacted by this lockdown. This includes a one off grant for closed businesses of up to £9,000 and is in addition to the existing monthly closed grants of up to £3,000.

"I hope this support will be welcomed by our local businesses and local authorities will receive this funding next week to be distributed to businesses as quickly as possible."

On Tuesday (January 5), another new fast testing site opened for those without symptoms of Covid-19. The new Rayleigh Testing Centre at The MegaCentre is for Rochford district residents only. Lateral Flow Tests are by pre-booked appointments only. 

This testing centre is the fourth in Essex, and joins The Nightingale Centre in Brentwood, The Towngate Theatre in Basildon and The Place Leisure Centre in Pitsea to offer new Lateral Flow Tests to the wider population, with results in 30 minutes. 

Tests are booked online through https://www.essex.gov.uk/getting-tested-for-covid-19/if-you-dont-have-symptoms

Alternatively call 0333 772 6144 to arrange an appointment. Lines are open from 8am to 8pm, every day including Saturday and Sunday.

You can also email: booking.confirmation@nhs.net and a member of staff will contact you to arrange an appointment.

Anyone with symptoms should book a test via the NHS Test and Trace App, or at www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test

Councillor John Spence

Councillor John Spence - Credit: Archant

Cllr John Spence, cabinet member for Adults and Health at Essex County Council, said: “We are absolutely determined to do all we can to reduce the spread of Covid-19 in Essex.

“Targeted testing programmes are how we will continue to tackle this, in addition to following the latest lockdown rules. An appointment to carry out a Covid-19 test will count as an essential journey under the lockdown rules.

“Testing and self-isolation will do more than any other weapon in our armoury to limit the spread.

“Playing your part now means, along with following social distancing rules, going for a test if you live in an area which is being asked to do so.”

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