'Sadly, grimly necessary,' says Hackney mayor on third lockdown
- Credit: Gary Manhine/Hackney Council
Rapidly rising coronavirus case rates in Hackney, and all over the UK, has seen the government U-turn on plans to reopen the borough's primary schools and implement a third national lockdown instead.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson's call for the country to "stay at home" has been echoed by Hackney mayor Philip Glanville, who has called the new measures "sadly, grimly necessary".
In response to the PM's statement on January 4 , the mayor said: "After nine long months of making daily sacrifices to help slow the spread of coronavirus, I know how hard the prime minister’s announcement of further restrictions tonight is for families and businesses in Hackney.
“In these gloomy winter nights, the thought of still not being able to see our family, friends and loved ones is tough – particularly for those shielding, living alone, in temporary accommodation or in shared houses."
Council data shows cases in Hackney rose "incredibly" fast over December last year across all age groups and wards.
For people over 65, who are most vulnerable to the virus, incidence rates have increased by 422 per cent in Hackney since the start of December, and Hackney's coronavirus rates currently stand at 866 cases per 100,000 people.
All age groups have seen significant increases in the past week.
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The mayor continued: "Over the last few weeks, I have heard first-hand harrowing stories from our NHS heroes at Homerton Hospital about the immense pressure they are under.
"We have also seen a sad increase in the number of people losing their lives to this terrible disease, including elders from Hackney’s Muslim communities over the weekend."
The mayor said everyone must "play [their] part to keep Hackney safe" as the "borough faces the gravest situation yet" in the fight against coronavirus.
He emphasised that if people do not follow the new rules, they will be putting lives at risk and contributing to overstretched hospitals, delaying the reopening of schools and the economy and "the chance to see our loved ones again".
Similar scenes are unfolding across the UK, with more patients in hospital than during the first peak of the pandemic in April and record numbers testing positive with the virus.
In his address to the nation, Mr Johnson attributed the increase to a new variant of the virus, said by government scientists to be between 50 and 70pc more transmissible: "There's no doubt that in fighting the old variant of the virus our collective efforts were working and would have continued to work.
"But we now have a new variant of the virus and it has been both frustrating and alarming to see the speed with which the new variant is spreading."
Residents are reminded to only leave home for specific reasons, like shopping for essential items, travelling to work if it is not possible to work from home, seeking medical help, to get tested or vaccinated and to escape from domestic abuse.
Colleges, primary and secondary schools will remain open for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers.
All other students will learn remotely until February half-term, but early years settings currently remain open.
Those who are clinically "extremely vulnerable" should only go out for medical appointments, exercise or if it is essential - they should not attend work.
“Our borough faces the gravest situation yet in our fight against coronavirus, and we must all play our part to keep Hackney safe," said Mayor Glanville. "The time to take action is now and if we don’t act, every sacrifice made and life lost risks having been in vain."
He added that "together, we will get through this," and the council and NHS will support residents in accessing money, essential supplies and food, as well as mental health and home-schooling support.
“The Hackney spirit shown by our communities last year made me prouder than ever to live in and represent this part of London," he added.
"I know that again, we will rise to the challenge, get through these final dark months, and create the time and space to deliver the new vaccines and on that promise of a more hopeful 2021 we all so badly want to see."
Full details of what you can and cannot do is available on the government’s website. Further information on the impact on council services will be available soon.