The government published its coronavirus watchlist yesterday – a list of almost 30 towns and cities where health officials are concerned about the number of Covid-19 cases.

Swindon, which first appeared on the weekly list on August 7, was still on the watchlist as an area of concern.

Swindon Advertiser:

The latest watchlist, detailing areas where the covernment is intervening or giving extra support

The good news is that it the number of new cases has fallen slightly. The case rate in the town has fallen from 46.8 cases per 100,000 people according to last week’s watchlist to 44.1 cases this week.

Figures published last night by the government show that 1,071 people have tested positive for the virus in Swindon since the pandemic began. That’s an increase of 168 since the start of the month and a jump of 24 cases in the 48 hours since the numbers were last announced by the Department of Health on August 12.

Council bosses say many of the new cases are concentrated on SN1 and SN2 postcode areas. Half of those who have tested positive recently are from black, Asian and ethnic minority communities.

There have been outbreaks at a number of businesses in town, including Iceland's distribution depot run by XPO Logistics, and smaller numbers of cases more recently at the B&Q distribution warehouse in South Marston and at Oak Furnitureland. A bakery in Devizes has also seen a small-scale outbreak, with some of those affected from Swindon.

The borough this week launched a campaign aimed at encouraging people to keep to rules on hand washing, social distancing, mask wearing and limiting contact with others.

2,000 letters have been written to households in the worst affected areas. The police have been co-opted to help with getting the message out to people.

For now, though, it looks like there won’t be a local lockdown. The decision of whether to impose tighter restrictions is, ultimately, a decision for the government – and ministers have the option to lockdown smaller areas like postcodes, the council’s director of public health said yesterday. You can read our lockdown Q&A here.

Today, some businesses that have been shut since March will reopen after getting the green light from the government.

They include Westlea soft play area Kidz About. Manager Alistair Burnett said he was elated to be able to reopen. “We’ve stripped out two thirds of our tables so they can be distanced, brought in new cleaning procedures and we will carry out risk assessments. We’re currently having 65 children per session and people will need to book beforehand. It has been extremely difficult being closed for so long.”

Swindon Advertiser:

Alistair Burnett of Kidz About

Close-up beauty treatments like facials are also now able to go ahead.

Managing director of the Thyme Treatment Rooms Jordan Ackrill said: “I’m looking forward to getting to reopen completely but we had clients message us about it before we had even found out so that was frustrating. It’s been like this at every stage, we would just find out at the same time as the public.”