Wednesday, 23 Sep 2020

Local lockdown 'imminent' after cases soar in Home Counties town

A local lockdown could be imminent in Dacorum after coronavirus case numbers soared.

Health officials warned on Wednesday there are a ‘significant’ number of positive Covid-19 cases in the Hertfordshire district – specifically in the town of Hemel Hempstead.

An uncontained outbreak among young people who have been to pubs and cafes  in Tring and Berkhamstead is of particular concern, public health Cllr Tim Hutchings said.

The council has appealed to residents in Dacorum to ‘pay really close attention’ to the issue, cautioning local business owners their companies could be hit hard by a second lockdown.

Officials from Hertfordshire County Council and Dacorum Borough Council will decide whether to enact local powers as they closely monitor cases daily.

Environmental health officers have stepped in to assist with greater ‘surge capacity’ for contact tracing, while trading standards officers have been told to increase spot checks on licensed premises.

Cllr Tim Huthings said: ‘We can confirm there are a significant number of positive COVID-19 cases across the Dacorum area – with a specific rise of cases in Hemel Hempstead.

‘Existing self-isolation and testing measures have not been effective at managing to contain this local outbreak amongst the original group of young people (17-19yrs olds) in a small number of pubs and cafes in the Tring and Berkhamsted area.

‘This has raised a few specific issues including: the importance continuing to self-isolate if they are a known contact (even if they have recently tested negative).

‘We now need all residents in Dacorum to pay really close attention to this serious issue of the spread of COVID-19 within the local community.

‘Specifically, if you think that you may have come into contact with someone with COVID-19 you should self-isolate for 14 days. If you are feeling unwell, you should call 119 or book a test at www.gov.uk/coronavirus.’

Mobile testing sites will be available twice a week in Hemel Hempstead and everyone who has had ‘significant contact’ with an infected person will be given clearer written guidance on how they must isolate to comply with Public Health England advice.

It comes after the Government was forced into a last-minute U-turn with restrictions in Bolton and Trafford on Wednesday.

The two areas were due to be released from measures banning different households from meeting indoors or in gardens, along with Stockport, Burnley, Hyndburn and parts of Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees.

However, Matt Hancock said the easing had been cancelled ‘following a significant change in the level of infection rates over the last few days’.

A ban on visiting other households has also been reimposed on Glasgow after a sharp rise in infections.

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