Oxford will move into a Tier 2 lockdown from Saturday morning following a surge in coronavirus cases.

The local council confirmed the changes as the number of new infections continues to rise, along with the number of hospital admissions in the city.

The Covid-19 infection rate for the city was 137.1 per 100,000 for the week ending October 23.

For the same period, the infection rate was 117.5 per 100,00 for the rest of Oxfordshire, which will remain under Tier 1 restrictions.

Oxford City Council tweeted: "Oxford will be moving to Tier 2 (high alert) for coronavirus. This means you must not meet socially indoors with anyone you don’t live with – unless they’re in your support bubble.

"The change will take effect from Saturday morning.

Oxford will move to a Tier 2 lockdown from Saturday

"We are moving into Tier 2 because the number of cases is continuing to rise. The virus is also spreading from people in their teens and twenties into older and potentially more vulnerable age groups. Hospital admissions have begun to increase as a result.

"We know the virus is largely transmitted through inter-household mixing. By moving into Tier 2, which prevents different households from mixing indoors, we are taking preventative measures to stop the situation escalating further and to protect our most vulnerable residents.

"For more information about what moving to Tier 2 (high alert) means for you and your family, please visit http://oxford.gov.uk/tier2".

The Covid-19 infection rate for the Oxford was 137.1 per 100,000 for the week ending October 23

Responding to the announcement, deputy Oxford Council leader Tom Hayes tweeted: "We must do all we can to stop the spread of Covid in Oxford and protect our most vulnerable communities.

"Please follow the guidelines and don’t take risks."

Bruno Holthof, Chief Executive Officer at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We have moved from a position of low and stable hospital admission rates over the summer to one in which admission rates are increasing. We know there is a time lag between rising cases and an increase in hospital admissions, and so we expect to see a further increase in hospitalisation rates over the coming weeks.”

Residents are being urged to play their part and stick to the new rules in Oxford to help tackle these recent trends.

The new restrictions come into effect on Saturday

Councillor Ian Hudspeth, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said: “The continued rise in numbers across the county has once more been discussed with central government and Public Health England and it has been agreed that this is the appropriate moment for Oxford move to tier 2.

“However, we remain seriously concerned about the rise in the number of cases across the county, and not just Oxford. We are deeply disappointed that despite clear evidence showing the virus is now spreading to older and more vulnerable communities across the county, our request that Oxfordshire as a whole should move to tier 2 was not approved.

“My five fellow local authority leaders and I firmly believe this is a necessary step to stem the spread of the virus, protect our communities and the Oxfordshire economy. Our position has the full backing of the chief executives of our NHS partners and the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, and we will continue to push for a move for the rest of the county to happen as soon as possible based on the epidemiological evidence.”

Hospital admissions in Oxford have increased

Dr Kiren Collison, GP and Clinical Chair of Oxfordshire CCG, said: “We need everyone in Oxford to make sure that they follow these new rules so that we can carry on being able to provide care to those who need it. If we don’t act now, the rise in number of patients with coronavirus will put a greater burden on GP services and the wider NHS which could have serious consequences for people who need our help.”

Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of Oxford City Council, said: “I know that many residents in Oxford City will be worried about what this means for them. In Oxford, we are being asked to make some small but important changes in behaviour. If everyone plays their part by sticking to the new rules, we hope we can keep life as close as possible to how it has been for the last few months and avoid more stringent measures being put in place.

“You can still meet outdoors (within the rule of six), businesses can still operate, schools are still open. These are the cornerstones of our lives – family, work and friends. I’m asking everyone to make sure they know the rules and to stick to them. If you need help, please ask for support. Family, friends, communities and the council are all here to help you do the right thing.

“However, I do want to put on the record that this is not the decision that leaders in local government and our local NHS recommended and asked for. Our director of public health advised government, on the basis of local data, to put the whole county in tier 2. This has been ignored. The decision to put Oxford alone into tier 2 is shocking, when the spread and case numbers outside the city are also of grave concern, and when so many people commute into our city. Those responsible for not protecting communities in the rest of Oxfordshire need to be held accountable for their actions to block a measure intended to save lives locally.” 

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