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Stark warning if new restrictions were not introduced

West Berkshire could have ended up in a similar situation to Kent if new Covid lockdown restrictions were not imposed.

Deputy Director, Public Health Berkshire West, Meradin Peachey, made the frank admission as Kent sees infection rates of 595.7 per 100,000 of the population across the County, although one area of Kent sits at 840 per 100,000.

West Berkshire currently sits at 265 per 100,000 of the population with most transmissions taking place within households according to the data.

Meradin Peachey said: "There is a worsening picture for the whole of Berkshire. It's not a very good picture across the whole of the South East.

"The lockdown did work in West Berkshire but it has suddenly shot up. If we continue in this way we could end up the same way as Kent. That's a similar pattern across the whole of Berkshire."

According to a Council Wellbeing meeting, 470 new Covid cases have been confirmed across West Berkshire over the last seven days with three deaths as a result of Covid.

Karen Dawson, Operations Director from the Vineyard Hotel, who attended the meeting said: "Covid has been devastating for the group. Hospitality has taken a huge blow and we have had to completely close.

"So many things have impacted us. The major impact is the huge loss of revenue but the biggest challenge is adapting to the rules that are so confusing."

Lynne Doherty, Leader of West Berkshire Council, said: “I know how upsetting this news will be to residents and businesses across West Berkshire, especially as it comes so close to a time of year when we would usually gather together with our loved ones in celebration.

“The stakes have never been higher in our bid to keep people safe and ensure our health services stay up and running effectively. The rate of cases has been rising across the district and across the region, with the past week seeing higher numbers than experienced at any other point during the pandemic.

“We understand that the request of each of us is high this Christmas as this marks a new phase in our COVID journey that will take us through the next few months. And while we may not all become sick ourselves, at the moment, we as individuals, families and communities are the only ones who can stop this disease from causing death. This is about individual and collective responsibility.

“So we are asking people to take a moment to stop and think about their behaviour as it is vital that everyone continues to follow the guidance so that we can reverse this trend, particularly given the news about the new strain of the virus.

“We know many residents have been affected by COVID and will need extra support during this period. I would encourage residents to contact our Community Support Hub using their online form in the first instance and for businesses to visit our website for applications to the business grants available.

“As always, we continue to delivering the vital Council services to our community during these challenging times.”

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