3rd Aug, 2020

'The penny didn’t drop': Solihull council leader's warning on social distancing and coronavirus

SOLIHULL’S council leader says he saw first-hand over the weekend how “the penny didn’t drop” with many people about social distancing.

A message from Coun Ian Courts today (Tuesday March 24) warned that the coronavirus threat of casualties is every bit as high as in a war “except this enemy does not drop bombs, it is invisible”.

He reiterated the Prime Minister’s lockdown guidance, urged local residents not to hoard food, to talk online to those self-isolating and said the council is currently organising “the safe and rapid discharge” of those people who no longer need to be in a hospital bed.

Coun Courts said: “So the penny didn’t drop with some of our fellow citizens about “social distancing”. The threat of casualties is every bit as high as in a war, except this enemy does not drop bombs, it is invisible.

“A bout of sunny, early spring weather over the weekend, and out they went, even in the town centres. I saw it myself. More people out and about inevitably increases the risk of spreading the virus and could quickly bring the NHS to breaking point.

“So we heard from the Prime Minister that the following restrictions have been introduced:-

“You must stay at home, only leaving for the following, very limited, purposes:

  • Shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible.
  • One form of exercise a day – for example, a run, walk or cycle – alone or with members of your immediate household.
  • Any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person.
  • Travelling to and from work, but only where you absolutely cannot work from home.
  • Even if you are permitted to go out – you should still follow the rule – keep at least 2metres away from other people.

“We are nowhere near the peak of this crisis. We have to continue to provide critical health and social care services, including for people affected by Covid-19 – it is vital that our hospitals have the capacity to look after people with Covid-19 – the fewer the people who get it, the fewer beds required.

“The Council is playing its part big time in all this; one of its tasks at the moment is organising the safe and rapid discharge of those people who no longer need to be in a hospital bed. Rest assured the Council’s social care teams will ensure those affected will be discharged to a safe and appropriate place. For most, this will mean going back home. For a smaller number, it will mean a temporary bed in a care home, to give us more time for further assessments to be completed.

“Thinking about our most vulnerable, you will have heard that the NHS are contacting 1.5million who have serious health issues and with other agencies will be found medicines and other services for those in Solihull.

“We have been overwhelmed by the offers of help from people wanting to provide support for those who are isolated or otherwise vulnerable. By your excellent response, it seems you have not lost sight of those needing help. We are rapidly putting in place plans to support those we know need extra help; the task is actually quite enormous and we will be looking for support from community groups and parish councils, alongside volunteers, to make sure the vulnerable are safe .

“I must remind you stay at home if you are worried about someone try and make contact by phone. Talking online can be a great way of supporting people who are self-isolating.

“And finally, there is enough food. Don’t hoard. As you will have seen, some of our frontline NHS and care workers were not able to get any food or other groceries. Supermarkets are redoubling efforts to fill the shelves, please just take what you need for now.

“Staying at home when we are used to such different lives is going to be tough mentally. It will take time to adjust to our new circumstances. Do think about what you can put in place as a good daily routine for yourself and family. Think about breaking your day into blocks, vary your activity and throw in some breaks to do some exercise.

“There are lots of on-line resources now to help you to do this. At the start, this may all seem an adventure, but as it goes on tempers will fray in the household – be patient with others!

“When I was Mayor ten years ago, my wife and I adopted the wish “Health, Happiness and Harmony”, which are inscribed on three stones we placed in one of our parks, in memory of our daughter. How appropriate is that wish for the people of Solihull now.”

You can find out about Council services by visiting solihull.gov.uk

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