Public Health officials have warned Bath may face tighter coronavirus restrictions, amid a surge in local cases.
Dr Bruce Laurence, Director of Public Health in Bath and North East Somerset (BANES), has warned that the area faces a “real danger” of increased restrictions, unless people start to limit their non-essential movements.
BANES has recorded 169 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people in the last week (16-22 October), compared to the England area average of 135 per 100,000. The University of Bath alone documented 46 new Covid-19 cases on Saturday 24th of October, its highest figure in any 24 hour period to date.
Dr Laurence urged families and students to take action to prevent further infections by abandoning Halloween celebrations this Saturday, “limiting non-essential mixing between households as much as possible”, and avoiding crowded areas.
The Public Health official urged, “Please ask yourself, whenever you are mixing with others or going out, is this necessary? Is this safe? Is the benefit worth the risk to me and to others?”
Bath and North East Somerset is currently in ‘Tier 1’, the lowest level of the government’s local COVID alert system. This means the public must abide by the rule of six and hospitality venues must close at 10pm.
Bath Council leader Dine Romero has warned however, “we are in real danger of lockdown if people don’t follow the rules”. Under tier 2, people would not be allowed to socialise beyond their households in any indoors setting, and in tier 3 they could only socialise outside in specific circumstances.
In the comments section of a Somerset Live article about the possibility of lockdown, the public shared their frustrations over how the University of Bath has handled its rise in cases. An individual whose comment received several likes posted that the University should isolate the virus by imposing a strict and an immediate ‘”lockdown on campus”.
Another commented, “The rest of us mature humans should not be locked down and punished because of the students’ thoughtless behaviour, for which many of them are now suffering.”
A University of Bath spokesperson said: “The University has been actively planning for various scenarios involving stricter control measures than currently in effect. Our priorities are the safety of our students, staff and the wider community as well as delivering the best possible experience for all our students, whatever the restrictions in place.
“We continue to have regular contact with B&NES and public health officials several times each week and are working closely together on local measures. The University’s Outbreak Management Plan is available online, and we have already built in flexibility to our plans which include delivering a blend of online and in-person teaching, reducing numbers on campus, and facilitating a testing facility at the University’s Carpenter House building in Bath as well as continuing support for students who may need a test or to self-isolate.
“If stricter control measures come into effect at any point we will carefully consider the implications for the University community and communicate directly with students and staff about changes as soon as possible.” This comment was added on Tuesday 27th October at 12.30.