Observer column: 7 January 2022
Happy New Year to everyone. We are all hoping for a better 2022 without the worry and fear of the virus but we begin the year with high rates in our town. This is putting a real strain on all our NHS services at a time when they are always under great pressure. The effect of this is that anyone who needs medical help, whether for COVID-19 or something else, could face delays or restricted care.
We are appealing for everyone to do everything they can to help reduce the spread of the virus in our town. We were horrified last year when cases reached 100 per 100,000 but we are now at around 1,000 per 100,000 and there is no real sign yet of a decrease. Please think about who you are meeting up with and where you are going and whether it is necessary. Social distancing, wearing a face covering and regular hand washing remain essential in our bid to stop the spread of the virus. Regular lateral flow testing before you meet up with others you don't live with and a PCR test and isolation if you have symptoms are essential.
We must continue to encourage everyone to have two vaccinations and a booster (two vaccines for 12-15-year-olds.) This is recommended to help prevent us from becoming seriously ill from the new Omicron variant. You can get your first, second or booster jab in several places in our town. If you are looking for your first or second vaccination you don't need an appointment you can just walk into the Town Hall site or the Hastings Centre. We are working with the NHS to ensure there are walk in booster sites for anyone who had their second dose more than three months ago.
If you are a football fan, Hastings United are hosting a walk-in vaccine clinic at their match tomorrow afternoon (Saturday January 8). The gates will open at 12.30pm at the TGS Pilot Field, Elphinstone Road and as well as your vaccine (first, second or booster) you will get free entry to the game. This is for anyone 12 and over.
Please check our website for details of where to get your vaccination.
We have a mobile testing unit in Pelham Place car park every day until Sunday 16 January as well as our permanent site at Falaise Road car park because we have high rates in our town. Tests should be booked online through the government website.
As a council we are doing what we can to minimise the spread of the virus and our officers are working from home unless they must be in the office to deliver the service and we are holding virtual meetings wherever we can. We have a duty of care to help protect our residents, our officers, and councillors from COVID-19 and to ensure we continue to deliver vital services.
This Christmas has been hard for many people and families for a variety of reasons including financial worries and the strain of living with the impact of the pandemic. Many of our children are now back at school after their Christmas break but others have been unable to return because they have the virus. Our town's children and young people have had their education disrupted so much despite the best efforts of those working in education and they have missed out on many social interactions including with their peers. Our children are our future, and we are keen to work with the education sector to ensure they still have the best opportunities to achieve their potential.
The sun is shining as I write this, and I wish you all a brighter new year where we continue to be kind and considerate and appreciate each other.
Council Leader's column