Council leader's plea as COVID cases rise 'rapidly' in South Bucks

The leader of Buckinghamshire Council has issued a plea for people to follow virus rules amid a ‘rapid’ increase in COVID-19 cases in the south of the county.

Cllr Martin Tett told the Advertiser that people need to go ‘that little bit extra’ to help curb the rise.

The county’s case figure has increased from very low single figure levels to 87 per 100,000 of the population – in just over a month.

Whilst this increase has initially been amongst those aged under 30, it is now spreading into the older population.

And it appears to be the south – around the old South Bucks and Wycombe district areas – that rises are more prevalent.

South Bucks’ figure per 100,000 was 17 in mid-September, but by October 10, this had reached 127.8.

Conservative leader Cllr Tett is now reminding people to obey requirements including ‘Hands, Face, Space’, the ‘Rule of Six’ and social distancing.

While other leaders look to be lobbying the Government to move up into the second ‘COVID tier’ – requiring tighter restrictions – the Bucks boss is trying his best to stay out of that category.

“This is not about money offered to councils,” Cllr Tett said.

“Staying in Tier One is not going to get us money – going into Tier Two would. I do not want to go into Tier Two.

“I worry it is going to have a real impact on businesses, and you can see closures, jobs being lost, and the mental health [impact].”

When asked why the south of the county had more case rises than the north, Cllr Tett could not quite put his finger on the cause.

He said: “There has been a rapid rise in the south of the county.

“I can’t quite explain why it is prevalent in the south, but it might be a little bit to do with affluence; people having a bit more money to spend.

“There is something about the south of the county [and] the suburban nature of that area. That is a hypothesis.

“It is a fact, in the south of Bucks, we have got a high number that has risen really quickly and is spreading from the young into the elderly.”

Cllr Martin Tett

The council says the evidence is that the virus is being spread by ‘community transmission’ – meeting and talking with other people outside households either indoors or close up outdoors.

Cllr Tett wanted people to go a little further to protect their safety while the cases continue to rise.

“What we want people to do is the basics. Too many people seem to be getting a little complacent,” he said.

“Too many people are leaving pubs and going to the off-license to get two bottles of wine and it is all back to their place.

“That defeats the purpose of the 10 o’ clock closure. What we need people to do is go home. Don’t try and carry on the party.”

He added: “We want people to go that little bit extra. Try not to be mixing with people indoors.

“You are allowed to do that [In Tier One] but if you do, you are risking transmitting the virus.

“Go out for a walk with your friends instead. There is so much beautiful countryside in Bucks.”

Cllr Tett said that he has seen too many people ignoring QR codes outside places like pubs and restaurants, and urged people to download the NHS COVID-19 app to make it easier to contact trace in the event of an outbreak.

He added that the council has a dedicated public health team which studies data daily alongside demographics such as genders and social groups.

When asked whether the recent rises concern him, Cllr Tett said: “Yes, it concerns me for a number of reasons.

“One is because the virus can spread into the older population and there will be vulnerable members of the community who will become seriously ill or potentially die.

“And I am also concerned about the impact on our economy and people’s mental health.

“I am making the appeal now for people in Bucks to do the right thing.

“If we all work together, we can beat this evil virus. If we don’t then our lives and communities could be changed forever.”

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