City Council ready to support city through second lockdown

Published: Monday, 2nd November 2020

Oxford City Council is activating its contingency plans to support residents and businesses through a new lockdown that begins on Thursday.

Plans have been worked up over the summer, building on the experience of the lockdown in the spring.

Oxford city was put into Tier 2 High Alert status from Saturday last weekend, and Tier 2 COVID restrictions remain in place until the lockdown begins. From Thursday this week additional restrictions will come into force. The new restrictions, although more stringent than those in Tier 2, are different from those imposed earlier this year.  Oxford City Council will continue to deliver most services in line with the current arrangements, although leisure facilities will be closed.

Other services such as GP surgeries, dentists and courts are expected to remain open, again in line with current arrangements.

New national restrictions

The national restrictions from Thursday include:

  • You must work from home if you can
  • You should not socialise with people who are not from your household, indoors or out, some exceptions apply
  • All non-essential shops to close, but may offer click and collect or delivery services.
  • Food stores, supermarkets and pharmacies will stay open
  • Hospitality businesses to close, but may offer take-away deliveries or click and collect (excluding alcohol)
  • Gyms, leisure centres and leisure venues like cinemas and museums to close
  • Schools, colleges and universities remain open

City Council response

Building on what was learned from the lockdown in the spring, the Council will restart its six Locality Resource Hubs to help support all those people in need of assistance to access food, medicines and essential supplies. The hubs cover Blackbird Leys, East Oxford, Rose Hill, West Oxford, Central Oxford, and North Oxford. The Hubs will operate with some differences from the previous lockdown. This reflects an expectation that demand for Hub services will not be as high as during the previous lockdown, as people and organisations have developed their own support networks and supermarket delivery operations have much more capacity.

The City Council’s Hubs will be working in close partnership with Oxford Together and other community groups across the city that have also adapted and developed their services through the previous lockdown. Government will also be writing to all people it has identified as “clinically extremely vulnerable”, and we will deliver support for them through the Locality Hubs and with community partners.

The Locality Hubs and the Council customer services team work together to support residents needing help. They can be contacted by phoning the Council on 01865 249 811 or using the online form.

Some local authority services will changes as a result of lockdown. Some of the key changes to Council-linked services include include:

  • Closure of leisure centres, including swimming pools and the ice rink
  • Suspension of group leisure activities including health walks

Services that are unaffected that may be of additional importance include:

  • Home waste and recycling services will continue
  • Parks and recreation grounds remain open for people to enjoy with their household or support bubble
  • Car parks and park and ride services continue to operate for essential travel only

The numbers of people feeling isolated and suffering mental health impacts may rise as a result of lockdown. Residents are encouraged to find out what support is available, from help with financial issues to tackling isolation to keeping active. Information is available on the City Council web site or by phoning the Council, and for those who feel they may need medical support, GPs continue to offer online and telephone appointments.

For those wanting to help in their communities, there are volunteering opportunities with a number of organisations. You can volunteer to be a phone link buddy, to help with practical tasks like shopping or be a prescription runner helping getting medicines to those who are housebound. Find out more and sign up on the Council web site.

Enforcement of COVID safety measures has been underway since the original lockdown in March, and the Council will continue to enforce the new rules. The Council’s COVID Secure Team will continue to work with Thames Valley police to deter group gatherings and respond to house party reports. Regulatory services will also continue to work closely with the universities to support their work with students to promote COVID safe behaviour.

More details on national lockdown restrictions and support will be published in the next few days by central Government on the GOV.UK website. Local details will be updated on the City Council website.

“Whilst nobody wants a countrywide lockdown, we hope that it can stop the spread and protect the NHS both locally and nationally. In Oxford we will continue to do what we can to support the many businesses that will be impacted, many of which were just getting back on their feet. Working with the city’s fantastic volunteer networks, we will also provide additional support for vulnerable households where that is needed.

“Maintaining social contact will be difficult for some people during lock down, so I'd ask everyone who can to do their bit to ensure that people who need a little extra help are not forgotten at this time – be they family, friends or neighbours. Over this next month it’s really important that we all obey the rules, to protect ourselves, our families, our friends and our colleagues and I’d like to thank everyone for doing their best to keep us all safe.”

Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of Oxford City Council