By Tony Winterburn • 27 September 2020 • 7:51
The British Army is on standby to help emergency ‘door-to-door’ coronavirus testing after infections spike in Birmingham.
It has been revealed that soldiers will be drafted in to help assist Birmingham council’s “drop-and-collect” door-to-door testing service. Council leader Brigid Jones told a meeting of the West Midlands Combined Authority on Friday that the plan will involve army units going to people’s homes in high-risk areas.
Ms Jones said army staff will not be acting in a “military” capacity or carrying out “enforcement”. The troops will be there as “boots on the ground” bridging any gaps needed in services carried out normally by civilian staff.
Army personnel and council workers will offer up home tests to people even if they don’t have symptoms in an aggressive bid to control the virus. She said: “We have been in talks with the military about them giving us some extra capacity for drop-and-collect. It’s very much in an extra capacity, feet-on-the-ground sense. It’s literally just to support the civilian effort side of things and we’ll be in a position next week to confirm whether or not they will be providing extra capacity and how that might be working.”
New restrictions were introduced in Birmingham on September 15 as separate households were banned from meeting in homes and gardens. Ms Jones added: “We are doing it because these are areas where there are very high levels of COVID and we believe there may be asymptomatic people and other people in the community who haven’t accessed tests.
“We are two weeks into intervention in Birmingham, where we have been asking households not to mix in gardens and homes because those are still the areas where we think we are getting the most cases from, followed by workplaces where social distancing isn’t being observed properly.”
From Tuesday 15 September 2020, Birmingham residents were not able to mix with people they don’t live with, in their homes or gardens. Households that had formed a support bubble with another single adult household can now behave as if everyone lives in the same house. These new restrictions were imposed on Birmingham to reduce the coronavirus rates of infection, which is rising extremely fast.
In a similar move, Madrid’s regional government requested army assistance for the community starting from Monday 28 Sep.
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