Column by the leader of South Gloucestershire Council, Toby Savage.

Monday’s announcement from the Prime Minister that England should go into another national lockdown was not unexpected. This decision comes as the case rate for Covid-19 is increasing rapidly across the UK and similarly across the south west region and in South Gloucestershire.

Under the new stricter rules, we are all expected to stay at home and only leave for essential reasons. Colleges, primary and secondary schools will remain open only for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers.

The Council is working hard to ensure that the educational and mental health support for our children is impacted as minimally as possibly by further time outside of the classroom.

In the seven days up to 1 January there were 1,087 cases in South Gloucestershire and the infection rate for that period was 381 per 100,000 people – a 119.2% increase. This rate is similar to Bristol and higher than North Somerset.

Rates have increased in all age groups but they are highest in the working age groups from 19-40 years. We’ve continued to see an increasing rate of cases across both the urban and some of the more rural parts of South Gloucestershire. 

The number of Covid-19 patients in hospitals across Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire is also growing and the health system continues to be under pressure.

As tough as it is, it is critically important that we all stick to the new lockdown rules. The single most important action we can all take is to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives.

However, there is light at the end of the tunnel. We are working with NHS colleagues to support the roll-out of vaccination to local residents as this is the most important route out of the current restrictions and we will be raising with the government what more we can do to support the immunisation programme.

More than a million people in the UK have already been vaccinated. Once Covid-19 is brought under control, normal life can start to resume.

In the meantime, please remember we’re here to help you. There are many sources of support. The Government has just announced that it will commit £4.6 billion to new lockdown grants to support businesses and protect jobs. As soon as we have further details and applications are open, we will post information on our website You can also find details of other support on our website including a list of the many voluntary groups in South Gloucestershire who can help out. If you’re not online, please call our freephone helpline 0800 953 7778.