Fresh plea for mandate on face coverings

Nottingham City Council

Nottingham City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Adults and Health, Cllr Adele Williams, has called on the Secretary of State for decisive action on face coverings for indoor and crowded settings.

Nottingham City Council believes a strong mandate on face coverings would with both preventing transmission and also sending a strong signal that there is no room for complacency as Covid-19 cases rise.

In a letter to the Secretary of State, Sajid Javid MP, Cllr Adele Williams wrote:

“I am writing to ask for decisive action to be taken this week to assist us in limiting the spread of coronavirus and to avoid the need to bring forward measures that will hit our city hard.

“The mixed messaging on the wearing of face coverings has added to the impression that the vaccine rollout rendered the simple health protection measures of ‘hands space face’ redundant. Whilst it remains in the guidance that masks should be worn in crowded places, the narrative from central government has not reflected this sensible stance.

“A strong mandate on face coverings for indoor and crowded settings would help with both preventing transmission and also sending a strong signal that there is no room for complacency.

“We are seeing some evidence that suggests that there has been transmission at cultural events. Nottingham has several major cultural venues and is known nationally for its night-time economy. Unfortunately, local authority testing programmes can no longer test at events, which reduces the ability to support control measures. Our Director of Public Health advises me that the COVID pass is a measure that that would allow our cultural industries to continue doing business and our citizens and visitors to enjoy themselves, whilst encouraging vaccine uptake and the regular testing that we know is so important. I would ask that you make the COVID pass mandatory for such venues, to protect our night time economy, with its vital employment and social benefits.

“In schools, we see strong indications that the transmission amongst pupils is driving rates in the parental age brackets. None of us want to see our young people missing school, but we are now seeing increasing rates for the lack of easy to adopt measures such as face coverings, isolating close contacts and siblings where there is a household case. I would also like to know how the changed protocols in education this academic year will be evaluated. Knowing what we now know of the risks to our young people of long covid, it is imperative that decisions are founded on good evidence of what really reduces risk and harm.

“A strong push on testing as families send their children back to school is now required if we are to hold down cases rate rises on return to school. I was concerned to hear that the ready access to lateral flow tests has been curtailed – though it may seem a simple thing to get a code before collection, any barriers in the way of access to testing will strongly affect take up of what is an effective health protection measure. Digital exclusion should not be a barrier to COVID testing – if it is allowed to be so, it will exacerbate health inequalities in our city.

“I hope lessons can be learned from the impact of previous reluctance to move swiftly and decisively to stem the tide of rising cases. I look forward to seeing decisive action taken in the next few days in advance of the school term restarting.”

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