Lincolnshire health bosses are working with South Holland and Boston district councils to reduce their high COVID-19 infection rates, but say it’s in the “hands of the government” to invest and make legislative changes to employment in the two districts.
This comes as South Holland and Boston have continued to have high infection rates — twice the England average — and have been unable to reduce them substantially in recent weeks.
The current theory is that, with much of the two districts’ population working in employment areas with low income or low hours such as agency work, farming and factories, some may fear taking time off work to self-isolate for financial reasons.
Lincolnshire County Council’s assistant director of public health Andy Fox said: “It’s very hard to actually turn the curve on these things without being able to change some of the fundamental economics and work structures of the situation.
“Realistically, you can’t do that in a few weeks… [it] would require significant investment and might even require legislative changes. I know we’ve been asked to brief the government on what changes that they could make around employment.”
Mr Fox added that his team have worked with South Holland to come up with government proposals, however, “it’s just in the hands of the government what work they want to do and what they want to push forward.”
“It’s about working with employees, it’s about working with the environmental health officers, the public and schools to just make sure everybody’s still aware of the key messages,” he said.
Lincolnshire rapid lateral flow testing site numbers are currently unavailable according to Mr Fox, however, he reassured that these centres will be open in the long run.
“I know the government has discussed keeping them open until June, but I think they’ll be open for as long as they’re needed.”
He added: “We’re seeing an expansion of interest from national government steering people towards home testing, so this will be using the sites primarily as a means for collecting tests.
“There are also some indications that government will be looking to expand testing in workplaces, using workplaces as a collection hub so employers could give their employees a test kit to go and take home.
“Let’s not lift our foot off the gas too soon and see cases increasing in numbers significantly again. Let’s keep following hands, face, space and let’s get vaccinated.
“We’ll get through this together and then hopefully, the latter part of 2021 will feel like a very different Lincolnshire.”