“The Government should ensure that local outbreak management plans can be stepped up if required if there is a re-emergence of the virus and that all partners are sufficiently resourced to make this happen."
Responding to the Government’s Living with Covid strategy, announcing the phasing out of all legal COVID-19 restrictions in England, Cllr David Fothergill, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said:
“We are now moving to a new phase of living with COVID-19 in our communities. The fact that we are now in this position is in no small part testament to the fantastic work of councils in protecting communities and supporting partners in the successful roll-out of vaccines.
“However, it is also clear that COVID-19 hasn’t gone away. There is still a risk of further waves of transmission because of waning immunity and the emergence of new variants and mutations.
“The Government should ensure that local outbreak management plans can be stepped up if required if there is a re-emergence of the virus and that all partners are sufficiently resourced to make this happen. The UK Health Security Agency needs to be able to think, mobilise and act nationally to respond, including maintaining their laboratory support, their technical skills and their research capabilities. This needs to be supported by delivery on the ground by councils, so if there is a major health protection threat in the future a rapid response can be deployed, ensuring that local communities are protected.
“As national systems are scaled back, it’s important that local public health teams still have the tools they need so they can respond to new variants and tackle outbreaks, particularly in higher risk settings. This won’t require the same level of funding as the Government has provided so far, but an extension of part of the Contain Outbreak Management Fund is vital so councils can continue this work and ensure staff with expertise in this area are retained.”