The great mask divide as Aylesbury opens back up after Freedom Day

A look at Aylesbury's current Covid situation as the country reopens.

Tuesday, 20th July 2021, 11:35 am

Local officials in Aylesbury have supported the Prime Minister's decision to reopen the country and end most Covid-restrictions.

Yesterday (July 19), was the first day when wearing a face mask in public spaces and social distancing is now enforced rather than a legal requirement.

Speaking yesterday, on what was dubbed by some as 'Freedom Day', Aylesbury's MP Rob Butler welcomed the decision to open up the country. But also urged his constituents to remain 'responsible', by wearing face coverings in crowded spaces.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

photo by Jane Russell

Bucks Council Leader Martin Tett also advised that he would continue to wear a face covering in public, whilst commenting he is 'certain' the Government didn't anticipate the surge in Delta cases when outlining its four stage roadmap out of lockdown.

Councillor Tett said: "I am certain that when this was being planned the Government had not fully anticipated the rapid increase in infection rates.This has been due predominantly to the ease of transmission of the so-called ‘Delta variant’."

The Delta variant first emerged in the UK around March, by May the more transmissible variant had led to a cluster of cases in certain neighbourhoods across the UK.

Aylesbury was exposed to the more transmissible strain early in its spread across the country. In the Kingsbrook area surge testing was made available after Delta variant cases were confirmed.

face coverings

Whilst the Delta variant has led to an increase in cases both in Aylesbury and across the country, Councillor Tett advises the infection rate remains lower among the older more vulnerable population in Bucks. In his weekly newsletter the Councillor advised that the infection rate for over 60s is 38.1 cases per 100,000 people.

This rate is significantly lower than the county average which sits at 167 cases per 100,000.

The Councillor attributes these lower figures to the effectiveness of the vaccination rollout, adding: "It would appear that the vaccination programme has been a major factor in the lower infection rate and the potential for serious illness amongst the older and most vulnerable groups."

Hospital admissions confirmed by Buckinghamshire Healthcare Group remain low when compared to the rest of the country. Only five people are suffering at Bucks hospitals with coronavirus, but a virus-linked death was reported in Aylesbury Vale in the past week.

The latest Government data for Aylesbury Vale largely reflects the Councillor's statements. The number of infections continues to rise, although case numbers did fall yesterday.

Across the past seven days cases have risen in Aylesbury by 51.6% with 635 new positive tests being returned. The infection rate for the region, which is accurate up to July 14 sits at 240.6 cases per 100,000 people, lower than the national average of 399.6.

In Aylesbury Vale 84.1% of over 18s have received their first dose and 64.8% of the region are fully vaccinated.

National figures reflect the council leader's analysis, cases have risen to similar levels seen during the third lockdown at the start of the year, with over 50,000 cases confirmed on Saturday alone in the UK.

Yet, whilst the number of Covid-related deaths has gone up by 48% in the last seven days. It hasn't reached the bleak levels of January when over a thousand new Covid-linked deaths were confirmed on most days. In total 296 people lost their lives after battling Covid in the UK in the past seven days.

Councillor Tett's message on face coverings was similar to the one released by Mr Butler. The Council leader advised: "We are expecting the Government to update the guidance for people who are Clinically Extremely Vulnerable in the coming days. So please keep thinking of others and how we all still need to work together to keep everyone safe.

"For that reason, I will personally be continuing to respect requests to wear a face covering in busy indoor spaces like shops and on public transport. I would also ask that we do not seek to challenge or stigmatise anyone who continues to wear a mask where this is not specifically required as this can be very upsetting for those who remain apprehensive."

Many retailers are still encouraging customers to wear face coverings within its supermarkets and stores. Transport for London also revealed on day one of Freedom Day, 85% of travelers were still wearing masks on the underground.

Whilst passengers are still advised by the Government to wear face coverings on buses in Aylesbury and beyond.