Tonight, Wiltshire Council held another live Covid-19 update as seven-day infection rates tripled in the county. 

Leader of the council, Philip Whitehead was joined by Kate Blackburn, director of public health in Wiltshire and council chief executive, Terence Herbert to talk residents through the latest figures and changes to council services. 

Cllr Whitehead started off the briefing saying that we must all “dig deep one more time”, echoing a message of personal responsibility heard earlier this week. 

“Clearly, this is not the start to the new year we all wanted and it feels as though things may get a little worse before they get better,” he added.

“However, as you’ve shown in the last nine to ten months, you won’t let this virus taint your spirit or sense of togetherness.

“That will continue to see us through to the end of this and with vaccines being rolled out as we speak we hope the end is very much on the horizon or at least a return to a much more normal life.

“Although it might not seem like it right now, we very much hope that this is the beginning of the end of this pandemic.”

Latest Covid-19 figures in Wiltshire

A lot has changed since Wiltshire was placed into Tier 3 in December last week.

The rapid increase of infections in Wiltshire is following the national trend. 

Agreeing with the measures taken to put England into a third lockdown, Mrs Blackburn said she was acutely aware of the impact lockdown has on people and the economy. But added that it was key to prioritise people’s health. 

“I know the majority of us were happy to see the back of 2020 and clearly the start of this year is going to be really tough,” she said. 

“But if we all take personal responsibility and make the right choices then there will be brighter months ahead.” 

The latest data shows that since the start of the pandemic 8,937 people in Wiltshire have tested positive for Covid-19. 

In the last seven day there have been 1,332 confirmed new cases of the virus, a figure Mrs Blackburn confirmed has tripled since December 7. 

The current seven-day infection rate per 100,000 in Wiltshire stands at 266.4 and while this is well below the national average (546.9) Mrs Blackburn said it shows the figures are heading in the wrong direction rapidly. 

The age range with the highest proportion of confirmed cases is in those ages 24 to 29 where the seven-day case rates are at almost 600 per 100,000. 

In those people aged 30 to 39 the case rate is in excess of 400. 

She said: “The new variant is much transmissible and this is demonstrated by the very large up-tick in cases we’ve seen.

“We know the last nine months have been full of regulations and restrictions but it is crucial for everyone to adhere to the new rules to bring the number of cases down from what we can see currently.”

It was said that the national Test & Trace service was getting intouch with around 80 per cent of those in Wiltshire, while the local team was able to contact 60 per cent of those missed by the national service. 

Mrs Blackburn also urged residents to save the number for the local Track & Trace service (0300 456 0100).

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald:


Primary and secondary schools and colleges are now closed to most pupils across the county who will now be taught remotely.

However, as during the first lockdown, schools will remain open for the children of key workers and those classed as vulnerable.

Today it was announced that pupils in England without access to a laptop can still go into school, as they are designated as vulnerable children under DfE guidance. 

Additionally, it was announced that GCSE and A Level results will now be based on teacher assessments. While SATs for Year Six pupils have been cancelled.

A spokesman for the council said: “Wiltshire Council has already distributed 1232 devices across 138 Schools to date, provided by the DfE in the summer term 2020 and were designated specifically for disadvantaged and vulnerable children and young people. 

“We have allocated these based on children that are most in need of our services and arranged through their Schools for them to be collected, and in exceptional circumstances delivered.

“The Department for Education is now providing additional laptops and tablets to schools to support remote education. 

“All secondary schools have recently been invited to order online and in the next phase, the DfE will invite primary schools to order, starting with the most disadvantaged areas across the county. 

“This will significantly improve the opportunity for our children in need to have access to the remote learning being offered from our schools.”

This comes as Gavin Williamson earlier today set out an ambitious target to get 750,000 digital devices to pupils by the end of next week.

What can you do if you have laptops or tablets you do not use?

The council highlighted two charities in Wiltshire where residents can donate electronic devices to be given out to those in need. 

Ruksak45218 ( in Trowbridge and Wiltshire Digital Drive (

Wiltshire Wellbeing Hub

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald:

The Wiltshire Wellbeing Hub is ready to help residents with the requests they have, it was said during today’s cabinet meeting.

Mr Herbert said the local authority has been inundated with requests since the lockdown news broke last night.

The Wiltshire Wellbeing Hub can connect people with community groups to help them support individual needs, resolve issues on the delivery of medication or to help people stay physically and mentally healthy.

For more information on the Wiltshire Wellbeing Hub, please call 0300 003 4576 or email

Opening times

Monday-Friday: 9am - 5pm

Mr Herbert said that the opening hours for the Wiltshire Wellbeing Hub will be regularly reviewed.


As non-essential retail has been forced to close the government has issued £4.6bn in funding to help those businesses affected by the lockdown.

These come in the form of one off top-up grants for closed businesses.

  • £4,000 for businesses with a rateable value of under £15,000
  • £6,000 for businesses with a rateable value of between £15,000 and £51,000
  • £9,000 for businesses with a rateable value of over £51,000

Sam Fox, interim corporate director of place and environment, also said there will be a £594m discretionary fund to support other impact businesses, as well as new one-off grants up to £3,000 for closed businesses and £2,100 per month for impacted businesses once they are opening.

Currently, there are 10 different grant applications available through the council and for more information on which will best suit your business please email

The government has also given 100 per cent business rate relief for retail, hospitality and leisure and extended the furlough scheme until April.

To date Wiltshire Council has given out over £100m in grants to businesses. 

Weddings and funerals

Weddings can only take place under exceptional circumstances and funerals can take place with a maximum of 30 people allowed.

Wakes and other linked ceremonial events can continue in a group of up to six people.

Local elections in May 

As it stands the council are redeploying staff to ensure the local authority can stage a Covid-safe local election. 

“The election may well decide that the elections are going to be put back to later in the year. We’re waiting on the government to confirm that but the intention at this point in time is that the elections will continue,” Mr Herbert added. 

He said that anyone who does not feel secure going to the polls to vote should sign up for a postal vote as soon as possible. 

Where can you report Covid rule breakers?

Mr Herbert said in those instances where there are clear repeat offenders that concerned residents should contact the police. 

“I think it’s really important we do know where there are repeat offenders because it’s probably a lack of understanding around guidance and we can help to education and support through the Covid Community Champions,” Mrs Blackburn added. 

“But it is vital that everyone sticks to the regulations that we have at the moment to bring that case rate down and save lives.”