The government has decided that Coronavirus restrictions will not be lifted from tomorrow. That means that social distancing measures across Shropshire will remain in place for another month, or until Boris Johnson lifts the restrictions. In Ludlow this applies to King Street which will be closed during the middle of the day on Fridays and Saturdays.
Local infections remain very low. The full scale testing site has been dismantled and Ludlow will now be served by a mobile testing unit based at the Eco Park.
Shropshire Council has extended traffic restrictions designed to promote social distancing in the county’s market towns. This means that King St in Ludlow will remain closed for social distancing purposes every Friday and Saturday between 10am and 3pm until 20 July. Access for pedestrians and cyclists will be maintained. Funeral hearses for services at St Laurence’s and construction and maintenance vehicles are also allowed.
As always there will be differing views on this closure. But given that the town centre and market have been packed in recent weeks, I am not convinced it is damaging trade. It certainly is boosting trade on King Street where people have previously felt obliged to move on under pressure on the pavements, as narrow as 90cm at some points, rather than dwell looking into shop windows.
Ludlow is one of the least mobile communities in Shropshire. More than a quarter of households in the town have no vehicle. We are also one of the most vulnerable communities in the county given our older age profile.
During the second half of 2020, testing centres set up in Shrewsbury and Telford, then Craven Arms, etc. People with symptoms were not allowed to use buses, trains or taxis. Not knowing how the virus would progress, we councillors said we needed a Ludlow testing station.
We assessed the Leisure Centre, Eco Park and Smithfield. At the beginning of the year, with most shops shut and the visitor economy closed, we did not have need for much car parking in Ludlow. We chose Smithfield as it is walkable from many areas of the town.
We don’t have statistics for use of the testing centre. I’ll ask for them at some point. But I am sure it has helped keep Covid-19 rates down in the town.
The new mobile unit is, well, mobile. It was in Shifnal until 14 June. It was at the Ludlow Eco Park last week. It will also sometimes be at Business Park in Craven Arms and elsewhere. The testing cell team meet weekly to allocate the location based on need.
If you have symptoms of Covid-19, you need to book a test. They are free. If you are in a work or meeting place, you are advised to take regular lateral flow tests. You can order them online for free.
I always take a lateral flow test before going to face to face council meetings and routinely check my temperature before leaving home. The tests aren’t fun but then Covid is not fun. And even with two vaccinations, it is still possible to be infected.
Hopefully, it won’t be long now before this nightmare is over. But the on physical and mental health, on businesses and the public debt will be with us for a long time.