After a year like no other, the end is in sight. As of today, the ‘stay local’ instruction is relaxed, people can mix in groups of up to six (or two households) outdoors and outdoor sports can resume like golf and tennis.
The rollout of the vaccine operation has been a huge success across West Berkshire and the entire country – with more than 30 million people having received their first vaccination.
As we edge back towards normality, I wanted to take this opportunity to give you the key dates on the horizon, information on how to access financial support and local vaccination and testing facilities. Keep up to date with my work around the constituency by checking out my website and 'liking' my Facebook page. You can read My Plan as your MP by clicking on this link.
Not before -
12 April: Non-essential retail, gyms and hairdressers to open fully, pubs and restaurants open outside only and self-contained holiday lets and accommodation can open to single households.
17 May: Pubs and restaurants serving inside, gatherings of up to 6 people inside and 30 people outside. Weddings and receptions can go-ahead with 30 people and there will be a limited return for live performances and sporting events.
21 June: Lifting of restrictions on social contact and full return for retail, hospitality and leisure sectors in England.
- Restart grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses worth up to £18,000. These are administered through West Berkshire Council and launched early April. Click here for more information.
- Furlough scheme extended until September to help businesses keep staff on the pay roll as demand picks up.
- Business rates relief extended for a further 12 months – 100% relief until the end of June, 66% discount from July to April 2022.
- An extension of the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme in line with furlough. Eligibility has been extended for hundreds of thousands recently self-employed.
- As part of the Government’s ‘Welcome Back Fund’, over £180k was given to West Berkshire Council to support high street reopening. More details on these funds will be released by the council.
Community testing with Lateral Flow Devices (LFDs) is already available to key worker and public sector staff. It is now being extended to anyone who has a valid reason to travel or interact with others, for example care home staff. The available sites are:
- Highwood Copse Primary School, RG14 7TD
- Hungerford Rugby Club, RG17 0HR
- Thatcham Rugby Club, RG18 3BN
- Burghfield Community Sports Association, RG30 3RS
For more info on who and where you can get a test, check out West Berkshire Council’s page here.
West Berkshire has seen very high take-up of the vaccine (well in line with the national average of 86%) which is excellent news.
By the end of March, all those in Categories 1-9 should have received an invitation for their vaccine (and if you haven’t and you’re over 50 follow this link to book now! https://bit.ly/31lk31X)
April will see the prioritization of second doses.
From around the start of May, Phase 2 of the vaccination programme will begin which will be in three parts, in descending order of age:
- 40-49-year olds;
- 30-39-year olds;
- 18-29 year olds.
The UK remains on track to give a first vaccine to every eligible adult on or before 31 July 2021.