It would be fair to say that we are approaching a pivotal phase in our fight against coronavirus and, at the time of writing, Swindon’s COVID-19 case rate has just passed the 100 per 100,000 mark.

It is not so long ago that the town was on the Government’s national watchlist with a case rate around half that figure, which just shows you how this deadly virus has taken hold of our nation once again.

Our case rate is still below the south west average of 123.2 per 100,000 and well below the England average of 212.5 per 100,000, but it is so important that all of us continue to play our part to keep our communities safe and stop the spread of the virus.

We know what’s at stake. Avoiding Swindon moving to a high or very high COVID alert level would mean avoiding further restrictions being imposed on our lives. Restrictions that could have an impact on our wellbeing and mental health, as well as local jobs and the economy.

In order to give us the best chance of containing COVID-19 we have to continue to observe the rules that have governed our lives for such a large chunk of this year. Unfortunately, that means making changes to what is usually a fun time for children and families.

We therefore need to celebrate Halloween and Bonfire Night safely, being mindful of the steps we need to take to keep ourselves and each other safe.

Coronavirus guidelines may mean activities such as trick or treating or large Bonfire Night displays are not possible this year, but that doesn’t mean people can’t have fun in the safety of their own homes.

I have seen lots of creative suggestions from virtual costume contests or scavenger hunts in the back garden to the more traditional pumpkin carving at home. We will be sharing ideas on our Facebook page so if you have an idea please get in touch.

Next week we are likely to see more people celebrating Bonfire Night at home and I would just like to ask readers to spare a thought for the impact fireworks can have on pets and other animals. We want people to celebrate, but in a considerate manner.

On Halloween night, council officers will be out on patrol in the town centre and Old Town with our colleagues at Wiltshire Police to advise and support members of the public and businesses to follow social distancing rules.

The Government has provided extra funding to the council for this activity and officers will carry out similar work on Bonfire Night and every Friday and Saturday evening in the run-up to Christmas.

Our Director of Public Health, Steve Maddern, will be hosting another live Q&A Facebook session this evening if you require any advice or have any questions about the current coronavirus pandemic. Social media users can submit their questions beforehand or tune in to the concil’s Facebook page at 5pm to watch the session live and leave questions for Steve in the comments section.