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Schools could shut if surge of Covid-19 cases in Hertsmere continues

Pupils from Yavneh College and Hertsmere Jewish Primary are among those self-isolating. Parents are warned they face fines of up to £10,000 for hosting 'multiple household' gatherings

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Jewish schools in Hertsmere could be among those forced to close as a result of the significant outbreak of Covid-19 in the borough, a local councillor has warned.

And Hertfordshire County Council has written to parents of all schoolchildren in the area warning them they face fixed penalties of up to £10, 000 if they allow their children to host, or themselves host, “multiple household” gatherings.

New government data shows the weekly rate of cases in Hertsmere are higher than anywhere else in the south - and just outside the top 10 in England.

Yavneh College in Borehamwood and Hertsmere Jewish Primary School near Radlett are among schools with pupils currently self-isolating - including at least one class at Hertsmere JPS.

There is also evidence that infections, predominantly among 16-17-year-olds in the borough, have begun to spread to adult family members.

Councillor Tim Hutchings, executive member for public health and prevention in Hertfordshire, warned earlier this week that the spike in the virus in Borehamwood, Elstree and Radlett among  teenagers was a result of “friendship groups within the wider local Jewish community”.

Speaking to the JC on Tuesday, he added: "If we do not get a grip on this local outbreak, then the risk is that schools may need to close."

The letter to parents from Hertfordshire County Council’s director of public health, Jim McManus, urged them not to allow their children to host “parties or gatherings which bring together multiple households”. A number of Covid-19 cases had been linked to events “where multiple households mix”.

He continued: "We will be taking enforcement action on illegal events and this can include fixed penalties of up to £10,000 on those organising them and penalties on everyone  attending.

“We ask you to do everything you can to stop house parties or events. Enforcement action can also include the seizure of sound and other equipment. “

Radlett, Elstree, Aldenham, Cowley Hill and Hillside in Borehamwood, Bushey North and Furzefield in Potters Bar were all areas which have seen at least three cases during the recent outbreak.

Cllr Hutchings also highlighted the “big risk” that teenagers will begin to gather indoors in each other’s houses after they finish school and during weekends as summer ends.

"During the summer when the weather was good, teenagers met outdoors where the risk of infection was lower.

“Now they’ve gone to their various parties or whatever. My advice is please don’t do that. Follow the basic rules of hygiene and of social distancing.”

He stressed the role of parents in ensuring their children "were getting the right advice and that they were adhering to it.”

A further six cases were announced in Hertsmere on the daily government dashboard on Monday after a weekend in which 20 new cases were confirmed. Five of these six cases were reported on Saturday.

Since August 29, there have been at least 65 cases reported in Hertsmere, figures the borough has not seen since the peak of the pandemic.

The rate of cases in the seven days to September 4 was the 11th highest in England from more than 300 local authorities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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