Last Updated: 18 Jan 2021 4:16pm
Covid-19 update to Tonbridge and Malling residents from Nicolas Heslop, Leader of Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council
As we enter the third week of the latest lockdown, many of us will be feeling the strain of tighter restrictions on our daily lives. With Covid-19 infection rates in our borough remaining high, local health services struggling and businesses forced to close, this was not the start to a new year any of us hoped for.
Across Kent, mass testing and vaccination is underway but we continue to witness the devastating impact of the new variant strain of Covid-19. In Tonbridge and Malling case numbers recently peaked at more than 800 per 100,000. The need to open a temporary mortuary at Aylesford to house the bodies of hundreds of people who succumbed to the disease should leave no one in any doubt about the seriousness of the current situation.
Despite this increased risk, especially for vulnerable groups, there’s evidence that a minority of people and businesses have lapsed into bending or breaking the rules on staying home, protecting the NHS and saving lives. While in some cases this may be inadvertent, in others it appears to be borne of a casual disregard for the safety of others.
As your local council, we have a role to play in providing help for the vulnerable through our community hub, distributing grants to closed businesses and offering financial help to families who are struggling.
We must also fulfil our role in helping to keep people safe, working with the police and others to ensure swift action is taken when we see the rules being flouted. Given the current level of risk we’ve taken the decision to strengthen our approach, not only to encouraging everyone to do the right thing, but also in tackling those who choose not to.
This will include more high visibility messaging in public places and increased checks on those businesses, such as supermarkets, which remain open. We will also be deploying more ‘Covid marshals’ across the borough to provide public reassurance while also acting as the eyes and ears of our enforcement teams. I would also urge anyone who sees activity which is risking people’s safety to report it to us or to the police.
It’s hugely encouraging to see first rapid testing facilities up and running at Larkfield and the Hop Farm. Vaccination for those most at risk in our borough has also started and mass centres are in the pipeline. These vital steps, coupled with a collective effort from all of us to stick to the rules, are paving the way for an easing of the restrictions and a long-awaited route out of the pandemic. I’m sure you will join me in applauding all those involved in meeting this enormous national challenge and I urge everyone to play their part by observing the wider measures needed to counter the threat posed by coronavirus.
If you would like to know more about our response to the current situation and details of how to report concerns, please visit our Covid-19 web pages.