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Police and council join forces for targeted day of action to drive down Covid-19 cases

Article date - 09 March 2021

To further address the high but steadily decreasing rates of Covid-19 in some areas of the borough, St Helens Borough Council and Merseyside Police partnered up for a day of community action in Parr and Fingerpost on Friday.
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Although rates of Covid-19 cases are coming down slowly, St Helens Borough’s rate is double the national average, while Parr has a rate which is four times higher than England. 

Merseyside Police, together with the council’s appointed ‘Covid Marshals’, took to the streets, shops and parks to promote take up of asymptomatic (symptom-free) testing in the community, increase understanding of the current restrictions among residents and businesses, and emphasise the enforcement powers available to police and the local authority for those found flouting the rules.

The targeted day of action builds on the wider work across the borough to keep residents and businesses informed and aware. 

Information packs were distributed to businesses on the day containing the latest guidance and resources to help them meet restrictions and make their stores and premises safer for staff and customers. 

In the week to Friday 26th February there were 298 people in St Helens Borough diagnosed with coronavirus, giving a 7-day case rate of 165 per 100,000 people. This was almost double the current England rate (91.1 per 100,000). 

The rate for Parr for the same period was 312 per 100,000. 

The day of action follows the opening of a new community testing centre in Parr at the Torus Housing office, Newton Road, open 1pm-6pm Monday to Friday, 10am to 3pm on Saturdays and Sundays. 

Councillor Jeanie Bell, St Helens Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Safer, Stronger Communities, said: 

“While decreasing slowly, rates remain high in some areas of the borough and so we wanted to reach out to these residents and businesses in a more direct way. And it was great to see some really positive engagement on the day with Merseyside Police and our Covid-19 marshals. 

“There’s a possible end in sight, so now is not the time to let up. Let’s all keep on following the rules and getting regular symptom-free testing, particularly those coming into contact with others outside their household or support bubble, such as through work or school.” 

Paul Holden, Chief Inspector for St Helens Community Policing said: “We were really pleased with the level of engagement amongst the community on Friday, particularly at the shops in Fingerpost where it was busiest. People were generally keen to chat to officers, ask questions, and take advice on the latest coronavirus rules and what they might mean for them. 

“Covid numbers in St Helens Borough remain worryingly high. We’re fortunate to be part of a close community, but with an infectious virus spreading quickly between family and friends, we do need to continue minimising social interactions in person at the moment – even though children have now returned to school. It’s not forever, but it’s incredibly important that we do it now to protect public health. 

“Our teams will be out in the community to offer advice and remind people of the rules. Where there are flagrant breaches of the regulations, we will take enforcement action and issue fixed penalty notices.” 

With more children and young people returning to school classrooms this week, and one in three people who have the virus presenting no symptoms, regular testing is critical. While secondary pupils will receive testing through their school, families with primary school pupils are encouraged to get regular testing at symptom-free testing centres across the borough. 

Symptom-free testing centres are prioritising those who can't work from home, those attending education, key workers and unpaid carers to help manage demand. 

Besides the new centre in Parr, symptom-free testing is also available at: 

at the following times: 

If you have symptoms, such as a new, continuous cough, a high temperature or a loss or change in your sense of smell or taste, do not attend symptom-free testing centres. Instead, book a test online at www.gov.uk/coronavirus or call 119.