Lincolnshire coronavirus: Health and emergency planning bosses were surprised by lockdown announcement

Those responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in Lincolnshire have admitted they were caught by surprise by this weekend’s lockdown announcement.

Lincolnshire County Council’s director of public health Derek Ward said the lockdown could have been shorter had it been enacted sooner.

“It [took us by surprise] a little bit in terms of timing. It was something we’d been looking at as public health body, but it all happened very quickly over the weekend,” he said.

“It will make quite a bit of difference to the country, more so to Lincolnshire. But had we put some sort of lockdown in five or six weeks ago it could have been a bit shorter.”

Deputy Chief Constable of Lincolnshire Police Jason Harwin, who chairs the Lincolnshire Emergency Planners group, also said it “was a surprise”.

“We didn’t expect the lockdown announcement over the weekend, however we have been doing some more work over the last few weeks as cases have increased,” he said.

The chiefs said they hope the lockdown would flatten the cases and deaths curve and “squash the rate of increase,” reassuring people that it would be worth the pain.

Lincolnshire has so far seen 7,642 cases since the pandemic began and this weekend we had record cases — 882 across our region.

“Because we’re at a lower level already, it will help us to keep our numbers even lower,” said Professor Ward.

“We’ll be going up from a lower rate than the rest of the country and that’s a good place to be.”

Professor Ward did, however, warn the lockdown could go on longer than the planned four weeks, noting that the impact of the measures would not start to be seen until after two weeks.

He said there was no indication at the moment that schools were driving up infection rates and that keeping them open was “the right thing to do”, however, he indicateded that if figures proved otherwise as lockdown continued then that could be revisited.

Mr Harwin called on people not to panic buy, adding supermarkets would be staying open and had already confirmed they would have provision available.

Chiefs are set to meet again tomorrow to discuss the measures in more detail, along with more planning for enforcement.

Bosses urged people to continue to use NHS services if needed, with Professor Ward saying it was “very much open for business.