Overall I think that the timetable is probably right. There is no doubt that the relaxation of the rules after the previous lockdowns were too quick. Hopefully, the Government will have learnt from their mistakes – not playing to the gallery, but actually looking at the data.
I do have concerns about schools returning. Whilst I am pleased that there will be testing for secondary aged pupils, the decision not to prioritise the vaccination of our teachers and teaching assistants is a mistake.
Plymouth has shown so much resilience over the past few months. Local people and businesses have been brilliant. However, we are at a turning point. And whilst there is light at the end of the tunnel – we now need people to dig deep and keep following the rules. It is going to be a long haul before we return to normal. Let’s remember the Government roadmap is ‘indicative’. If we don’t all follow the rules, our case numbers will go back up. We want to keep going forwards, not backwards.
For our business community, it has been really tough. Yes, there has been Government funding. However, the Council has been arguing since the start of the pandemic that there needs to be more financial help for freelancers and the self-employed. Through our innovative Resurgam economic programme, we will drive forward our plans for recovery and seek to repair some of the damage caused
I know that people are desperate to get back to normal. But yes, at the forefront of my mind is the impact on local case numbers. We have seen so many times that we get peaks and troughs when we have the relaxation of the rules. But, we have been working really hard to make sure that people know they need to continue following the rules.
We are also aware that 1 in 3 people who have COVID-19 do not display any symptoms. And that is worrying as people could be spreading it without realising. So, we are also shortly due to launch our Community Testing service – which means that those people are asymptomatic and are out and about for work or volunteering will be able to access free and quick regular COVID-19 testing. If they are positive, they will be able to self-isolate straight away.
We know that there are many people who are struggling during the pandemic. I would say to everyone that there is help available. No one has to be alone. Through our partnership with Livewell, there are people available to listen and talk – 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If this is you – give them a call on 01752 434 922.
Yes, I have. It was great. The NHS are doing a fantastic job – as are our community pharmacies. I would like to say a big thank you to everyone involved in the vaccination programme – including the army of volunteers who have come forward to help.
Yes – our programme restarted last September. There will be a number of events this year. We intend to ramp everything up in the summer and the autumn. If you go to www.mayflower400uk.org we will be adding even more events in the coming months.
I do not see Plymouth as a city solely defined by our students. However, we will be looking forward to welcoming them back. In terms of our night-time economy, we know that our visitors, residents and students are looking forward to being able to return to social settings. I hope that when they are able to open safely, prosperity returns to those people who run those facilities.