City Council leader responds to Step 3 extension

Published: Tuesday, 15th June 2021

Oxford City Council has issued a message to residents and businesses in response to the government announcement that current covid measures are to stay in place until 19 July.

At the government briefing, the Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty emphasised that removing the last restrictions at this stage would give the virus a huge advantage over the vaccine roll-out, allowing much faster transmission while millions still have no protection at all. The four week delay aims to provide first dose protection to almost every adult in the UK before removing the last social prevention measures.

The government announcement last night did not include any new support to businesses or extension of existing measures to support businesses unable to reopen. From 1 July furlough and business rates reliefs begin to taper.

“I know this is a frustrating time for many, but we have to take responsible decisions to manage the current situation, and I support the extension of restrictions to manage the Delta variant. But I want to be clear that responsibility for the current situation lies with the government. Yet again they dithered when decisive action was needed, rather than act quickly to restrict people coming into the UK from countries where the Delta variant was prevalent.

“I am really concerned about the impact on many hospitality businesses. Not just those that won’t open for another month, but many had been relying on the next reopening to start fully covering costs and begin turning a profit. Please support your local businesses, use your cafes, pubs and restaurants, and show your respect and support for their staff by following the guidance.

“Oxford City Council is doing what it can to support businesses in the current situation, providing more outside hospitality space and licences, and supporting our outdoor markets and traders. But the government needs to do more. Every penny of our business support funding is spent or allocated, and government support begins to drop off from July. If Government can provide additional funds then we will get those out to businesses promptly.

“To our residents, I want to remind them that by following the guidance, together we have saved many lives and reduced hospital admissions.  I urge everyone to continue to stick to the guidance to help the vaccine roll out reach as many as possible before the virus does.

“There are still so many things we can enjoy. Our shops are open, we can socialise indoors, visit cafes, restaurants, museums, cinemas, bars. We can hug our loved ones, stay overnight, visit friends in other places. We can enjoy these freedoms, taking care of each other by sticking to the guidance - that means continuing social distancing, wearing masks in public places and working from home where possible.

“Yesterday the government made it clear that the next four weeks would see a huge push to get first vaccines out to all over-18s, and second doses to over-50s. The scientists tell us we are in a race between vaccine roll out and virus spread. Please all keep to the guidance so that the vaccine roll out wins the race.”

Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of Oxford City Council