Stay alert, control the virus, save lives – and keep social distancing

Today we are publishing our local Covid-19 Outbreak Control Implementation Plan. In light of yesterday’s government announcement about the first full local lockdown in Leicester, it is more important than ever that we have a plan in place to guide us through any potential outbreaks.

Our plan sets out what we, and our local partners, will do to identify and contain any Covid-19 outbreaks within the borough and protect your health. It describes how we will manage and prevent the spread of Covid-19 locally, and aims to keep you and your community safe during the current phase of the pandemic, as well as support the return to social and economic recovery. You can read about it on the Council website here.

As part of the Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire Beacon, the plan sees us working with the NHS, Public Health England and alongside the West Midlands Combined Authority.

We will be reaching out to communities, community leaders and our local partners to reinforce the messages about preventing the spread of the virus in the first instance.  Similarly, if we do get an outbreak, we really will need to work with people who understand their community and can help us contain the outbreak. I will share more news about this work as it progresses.

As part of this, we want to get the message out loud and clear that anyone who has symptoms of Covid-19 must self-isolate, get tested straight away and help to stop the spread of the virus by letting NHS Test and Trace know of any contacts they’ve had who might therefore be at risk of getting the virus. Equally, if you have been in contact with a case and are contacted by NHS Test and Trace, you must follow their advice and self-isolate if told to do so. We need everyone to do this to protect the most vulnerable people in our communities and to stop the virus spreading rapidly as it has done in parts of the country this week.

Strange though it may seem, while we are having ‘virtual’ council meetings and have had to postpone this year’s local elections, I want to remind everyone that they need to register to vote for elections in 2021 if they have recently moved, or just turned 18.

Don’t lose your voice, make sure your electoral registration details are up to date. We will still be undertaking the usual annual canvass this year, to identify any residents who are not registered, so they can register and have their say when we come to the polls next year.

So keep your eyes peeled for messages from Solihull Council, so we can make sure we have the right details on the electoral register, for every address in the borough. Remember, if you are not registered to vote, you won’t have a voice at the polls next year. If you want to register, the easiest way is online at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote or Solihull Council will send you information explaining how to do this in the post.

Another weekend has passed and, alongside some rest and relaxation, I do hope you managed to get out to your local shops? There’s a well-known phrase that particularly applies to our independent retailers and service providers at the moment – that is “use it or lose it”.  Without our support they face an uncertain future.

If we want to retain our local communities we must think local and support local. You will miss your local shops, butcher and hairdressers if they have to close down, so go on, support your local businesses.

Last week the final emergency food and fresh produce parcels were delivered to our Shielding residents. Over ten weeks, staff from the Council, Solihull Community Housing and West Midlands Fire Service packed and delivered 6,826 food parcels and 377 emergency parcels to people with underlying severe health conditions who were asked to stay at home.

As supermarkets have increased deliveries and restrictions are being eased, this work has now come to an end. However, the team has made sure that the residents they have been supporting are organised to get shopping delivered, and have reassured them that help is still available. Alongside this, the Council will continue to make wellbeing calls, checks and medicine deliveries, and the government will provide food boxes until the end of July.

Finally, I have had letters from our two MPs, Saqib Bhatti, MP for Meriden constituency, and Julian Knight, MP for Solihull constituency, expressing their thanks for the work of the Council in supporting residents throughout this crisis. This is much appreciated and I am very grateful to them in turn for their support to us through this difficult period.

Take care

Councillor Ian Courts, Leader of Solihull Council, 30 June 2020