As we begin the new year, a time normally filled with a sense of renewed hope and positivity, we are unfortunately battling extremely high coronavirus case numbers throughout the district. This latest surge in infections is largely being fueled by the new strain, which is more infectious and therefore more transmissible. In March of last year, we all pulled together in a spirit of national sacrifice and community. Acting together, for the benefit of all, we ensured the NHS was protected and our collective efforts to fight the old variant of the virus were working. However, in the face of a new variant of the virus, which is around 50 per cent more transmissible, it is clear that we need to do more to bring this new strain under control.
I know how frustrating it is, after the hard work and sacrifices that were made throughout 2020, to start the new year with further restrictions in place. I am under no illusion that the weeks ahead will be the toughest yet, and I know that many Huntingdonshire residents are struggling in particularly challenging individual circumstances, but we are entering the last phase of the struggle and with the vaccination roll out, the end is in sight. We must therefore now, more than ever, pull together and I want you to know that at Huntingdonshire District Council we will continue to do everything we can to help our communities through this.
Over the last year, we have responded to the pandemic in ways previously unseen from a local authority, initiating and distributing new help and support for residents and businesses in many different ways. This support remains in place for anyone who needs it and even if you are not sure that you meet the usual criteria for assistance please reach out to us and ask. HDC is a pragmatic council and we will do what we can to help.
I would like to also extend my thanks to those of you who responded to our Think Local communications campaign by supporting our local towns and independent retailers in the run-up to Christmas. Whilst these businesses are now not able to open, outdoor markets in Huntingdon (Saturday 8:30-14:30), St Ives (Monday 08:30 – 14:00 and Friday 08:30 – 14:00) and St Neots (Thursday 09:00 – 16:00) remain open to purchase essential goods.
We recognise the importance of people being able to maintain their mental and physical health and wellbeing, therefore our local parks and open spaces are open for local access. You can also follow One Leisure on YouTube and take part in a range of free fitness classes from our instructors. Enclosed, you will also find a short note from the Director of Public Health.
We continue to maintain and deliver almost all council services as we have done since the beginning of the pandemic, and many of our services are available online. We also have created a dedicated COVID-19 portal which hosts a wealth of information related to coronavirus for residents and businesses to access the latest information and support. For those not online, our customer service centre phone lines remain open for you to call on: 01480 388388.
The following are some further links that you may find useful:
Finally, the weeks and months ahead will continue to be difficult and will test us all, but if we can continue to harness the same spirit that has helped us get through the last ten months together as a community then I am confident that we will overcome these challenges and continue to prosper. Across Huntingdonshire, we truly have seen the very best examples of community spirit and resilience throughout this difficult time. Our Huntingdonshire community has so readily demonstrated just how strong we are, and what we are capable of when we pull together.
Councillor Ryan Fuller
Executive Leader of the Council
Note from Director of Public Health
Dear Huntingdonshire Resident,
Current public health advice is to rigorously follow the Stay at Home rules, and only leave your house for essential reasons. This is the best way to stop Covid-19 spreading within our community.
When you have to leave home for essential reasons - such as to work in a front-line job which can’t be done from home, to buy food, attend a medical appointment, or get exercise, then it is essential to follow Covid-19 safety precautions. Around 1 in 3 people who have coronavirus have no symptoms and could be spreading it without realising it. Remember - Hands. Face. Space:
- Hands – wash your hands regularly and for at least 20 seconds
- Face – wear a face covering when required
- Space – stay 2 meters apart from people you do not live with wherever possible And please avoid crowded or poorly ventilated places.
It is important to be vigilant for Covid-19 symptoms - a high temperature, a new continuous cough, and a loss or change to your sense of taste or smell. If you have one or more of these symptoms, then please self-isolate with other members of your household and support bubble and take a coronavirus test. You must self-isolate while you await the result.
If you are feeling overwhelmed or you are concerned about your mental health, contact Cambridgeshire and Peterborough ‘Lifeline’ helpline between 11 am and 11 pm on free phone on 0808 808 2121. For more advice and information on other services, visit Keep Your Head, and for mental health crisis dial 111, option 2.
Dr Liz Robin
Director of Public Health, Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council