Barnet’s public health chief has urged people to stay at home after soaring Covid-19 infection rates sparked a new national lockdown.

Dr Tamara Djuretic, the council’s director of public health, said the tougher restrictions are necessary as hospitals are now at their full capacity in intensive care units.

She added that the council is scaling up its enforcement operation to crack down on those caught flouting rules designed to stop the spread of the virus.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a new England-wide lockdown on Monday, meaning non-essential businesses have been forced to close and people are only allowed to leave their homes for limited reasons.

Barnet’s seven-day coronavirus infection rate climbed to 997 cases per 100,000 people in the week to December 31, according to Public Health England data.

Dr Djuretic said: “Covid-19 rates increased rapidly at the end of December in Barnet and across the country. Our hospitals are now at their full capacity in intensive care units, with any virus being harder to control in the winter months.

“It has therefore been necessary to go into lockdown again, in order to contain the spread of the virus and minimise the impact of the illness on the most vulnerable in our community.

“The message is simple: we must all stay home and only have contact with people outside our household in exceptional circumstances. We are scaling up our enforcement teams and making them more visible on our streets, in order to make sure that people and businesses are following the rules.

“Barnet’s greatest strength is its people, and as we have shown over the past year, we will keep supporting each other and protecting our loved ones. If you develop symptoms, please get tested immediately and self-isolate for ten days. For those struggling financially and who find self-isolation challenging, help is available.”

The public health chief said vaccines are being rolled out across Barnet to priority groups, but this will take several months. In the meantime, people must do all they can to avoid getting infected and infecting others, she added.

“Stay safe – this is the single most important thing you can do for yourself and others this winter,” Dr Djuretic said.

New national lockdown: stay home, save lives, protect the NHS

Barnet Council has issued the following lockdown guidance for residents:

  • Under the lockdown rules, people may leave their homes to shop for basic necessities; go to work if they cannot reasonably work from home; and exercise with their household, support bubble or one other person – this should be limited to once per day and within the local area. People can also go out for a limited number of other reasons, including childcare, to meet their support bubble or seek medical help. More details are available here:
  • Fines for those caught breaking the rules run to £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400. The police can issue fines of £10,000 to people who hold, or are involved in holding, an illegal gathering of more than 30 people.
  • All non-essential retail and hospitality venues will remain closed, but organised outdoor sport for disabled people can continue, and parks and playgrounds will stay open.
  • Colleges, primary schools and secondary schools will remain open only for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers. All other children will learn remotely until February half term. Early Years settings remain open. Higher Education provision will remain online until mid-February for all except future critical worker courses.
  • People should stay two metres apart from those in other households, or one metre with extra precautions where this is not possible. Face coverings must be worn in indoor settings such as essential retail, places of worship or on public transport, unless you are exempt.
  • People cannot leave their home or the place where they are living for overnight stays – unless they have a reasonable excuse – or holidays.

More information on the lockdown rules can be found here:

Information for those in need of support is available here:

Information on how to support Barnet’s volunteer effort is here:

To book a coronavirus test, visit: