We’ve put together this article to help you understand what that means.
What do local COVID alert levels mean?
Local COVID alert levels set out information for local authorities, residents and workers about what to do and how to manage the outbreak in their area.
It lets you know what you can and cannot do if you live, work or travel in each local COVID alert level.
You can find out the alert level of your local area by using your postcode on the government’s website. Somerset is at ‘medium’ alert.
Why is the government introducing local COVID alert levels?
The government wants to make sure the right levels of intervention are made in the right places to manage coronavirus outbreaks.
They’ve simplified and standardised local rules so it’s easier for everyone to understand what they can and can’t do, depending on how prevalent coronavirus is in their area.
There are now three local COVID alert levels: medium, high and very high.
Somerset is ‘medium local COVID alert level’. What does that mean?
Medium alert level areas are subject to the national restrictions that continue to be in place.
- you must not socialise in groups larger than 6, indoors or outdoors (other than where a legal exemption applies)
- businesses and venues can continue to operate, in a COVID-secure manner, other than those that remain closed in law
- certain businesses are required to ensure customers only consume food and drink while seated, and must close between 10.00pm and 5.00am
- businesses and venues selling food for consumption off the premises can continue to do so after 10.00pm as long as this is through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-through
- schools and universities remain open
- places of worship remain open, subject to the rule of six
- weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on numbers of attendees
- exercise classes and organised sport can continue to take place outdoors, or indoors if the rule of six is followed.
You should continue to:
- follow social distancing rules
- work from home where you can effectively do so
- when travelling, plan ahead or avoid busy times and routes. Walk or cycle if you can.
Full guidance on the restrictions in place to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in an area where the local COVID alert level is medium is available on the government website.
Somerset County Council is urging all parents and carers of school aged children to return their flu consent form and help children become ‘flu fighters’ this winter.
All schools should have issued information about the flu vaccination to parents and carers of eligible children and young people asking them to fill in an online form to give their consent.
If parents/carers haven’t already completed the form, Somerset County Council’s public health teams urge them to complete it – and give their consent.
With COVID-19 also circulating in communities this winter, catching flu and Coronavirus together is even more likely to lead to severe illness, hospitalisation and sadly death.
Therefore, it is more important than ever to reduce the chance of becoming ill with flu this winter, reduce the chance of spreading it to others – and help protect the NHS.
For most people flu is horrible, but not life threatening. However, for those in certain ‘at risk’ groups, flu can be deadly. Many of us will carry the flu virus without showing symptoms and could unknowingly pass it on to the most vulnerable.
The nasal spray flu vaccine is free on the NHS and has already started to be rolled out through the schools vaccination programme this year. It is available to:
The vaccine is being administered to school children by Somerset NHS Foundation Trust school-aged immunisation nursing team (SAINT), a dedicated team of qualified nurses and support staff. The team have started visiting schools across the County giving children the flu vaccination via a nasal spray.
School visits will look a little different this year, nurses will be wearing protective masks and clothing and adhering to strict hygiene rules. The team have produced a video to show what measures have been put in place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdqeuH97_aU&feature=youtu.be
Suzy Mason, Somerset NHS Foundation Trust’s school aged nursing immunisation team leader, said: “Flu is a serious condition that kills on average 11,000 people in England each year and hospitalises many more.
“And it’s now easier than ever to consent for your child to receive their flu vaccination with our new online system.
“Our team is working with every school to ensure we are able to provide safe and effective vaccination sessions for children in Somerset.
“If you are a parent and have missed the deadline for consent and the school session has passed, we are offering sessions in the community.”
Councillor Clare Paul, Somerset County Council member responsible for health and wellbeing, said: “Children are known to be flu ‘super-spreaders’. By vaccinating children and young people, we know we can reduce the amount of flu going around.
“This year we have Coronavirus. Catching the two viruses together could be very serious. So, it is more important than ever to get your child vaccinated, particularly if they have regular contact with older relatives or others with an underlying health condition.”
For more information or to find out when the team is visiting your school visit the Healthy Somerset website at: https://www.healthysomerset.co.uk/flu/more-information-on-vaccination-in-somerset-schools/ .The site also has some fun resources which you can use to explain to your child why it is important to get the flu vaccination.
Information about planned school sessions and contact information for the SAINT team can be found at: https://www.somersetft.nhs.uk/saints-school-age-immunisation-team/somerset-school-aged-immunisation-nursing-team-saint/flu-vaccination-programme/
Self-isolating is vital to stop the spread of COVID-19
According to news reports, a study led by King’s College London shows that fewer than one-fifth of people in the UK who develop coronavirus symptoms are following the rules and self-isolating at home.
Just 18 per cent of people involved with the study, who developed symptoms between March and August, said they had actually self-isolated, and only 11 per cent of those in contact with someone testing positive for coronavirus said they had stayed at home for the required two weeks.
But the recent rise in COVID-19 cases here in Somerset and across the country, in all age groups and communities, are a stark warning to us all that we need to keep working together to slow the spread of the virus.
Public Health England has written about how vitally important self-isolating is to stop coronavirus from spreading in our community, particularly to people who could become very sick if they catch the virus.
You must self-isolate:
- if you have symptoms and are waiting for a test
- if your test is positive
- if you’re notified by NHS Test and Trace or the new NHS COVID-19 app that you’ve been in close contact with a confirmed case.
The simple message is…self-isolating for the full duration may well be a frustrating thing to do, but it’s a very necessary part of stopping this pandemic. So, if we’re called upon to do it, or we develop symptoms, then let’s just do it and do it properly.
People on low incomes, who must self-isolate if they have symptoms or they are told to do so, and who cannot work from home and have lost income as a result, can receive £500.
It was announced earlier this week, at the same time as an announcement about fines for people who breach self-isolation rules, which rise to £10,000 for repeat offences.
Fines now also apply to people who prevent others from self-isolating when they should be. For example, a business owner who threatens self-isolating staff with redundancy if they do not come to work.