An escalation of contingency measures as the war against coronavirus outbreak continues
PUBLISHED: 16:32 18 March 2020 | UPDATED: 16:32 18 March 2020
Events across the district are being cancelled as the threat of a coronavirus outbreak begins to take effect.
Oaklands College in St Albans cancelled its annual lambing weekend as a precaution to prevent the spread of the disease.
The community event – which was due to take place last weekend on the Hatfield Road campus – enables agricultural students to gain experience delivering newborn lambs, while thousands of visitors take part in activities and enjoy refreshments.
The college decided to cancel the event due to the ongoing coronavirus situation, which has now been declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation.
A statement from the college said: “In light of the evolving situation, we have very reluctantly decided to cancel our annual lambing weekend.
“We apologise for any inconvenience caused and hope you can join us at any of our future events.”
A Community Day at a Fleetville church was also cancelled.
St Paul’s Church, at the corner of Blandford Road and Hatfield Road, was due to throw open its doors on Saturday for a wide range of free family-friendly attractions.
A spokesperson said: “In light of the latest coronavirus advice both from the government and the Church of England, this event has now been cancelled. We apologise for any inconvenience but believe people will understand the decision.”
Schools across the district may follow those in other countries in closing as more staff become unavailable.
Samuel Ryder Academy confirmed that a member of the school community had contracted coronavirus – but that the person in question had been absent from school for the last 11 days.
A letter from headteacher Matt Gauthier said: “We have contacted Public Health England and all necessary actions have been taken to ensure the health and safety of all.
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“In school we continue to encourage good hygiene, including the frequent and regular washing of hands and the use of hand sanitisers that we have installed.
“In light of the Government advice announced yesterday, we are taking further steps to reduce social contact in school including postponing parents’ consultation evening for Year 10 on Thursday of this week.”
Meanwhile Sandringham School has told pupils in Years 8 and 9 that they must work from home from Wednesday this week, with the situation to be reviewed tomorrow, and Beaumont School has warned parents that one or two year groups may end up closing ‘should staffing levels become untenable’.
The Courtyard Café in Hatfield Road has closed for one week in response to government guidelines, with a blackboard outside the café saying they will provide an update in a week’s time.
Cinemas and theatres are being closed across the county – including The Odyssey in London Road, which has suspended its programming until further notice.
A statement from the cinema said: “If you have pre-booked tickets for a cancelled screening please be assured that we will contact you as soon as possible by telephone to process a refund.
“For anyone who would like to save the value of their tickets as a credit note it would massively help us during this time.
“Refunds can only be processed by phone.”
Nuffield Health and Fitness in St Albans is advising members to self-isolate, regardless of travel history or contact with confirmed cases, if they have a new continuous cough and/or a high temperature (of 37.8C or higher).
Meanwhile, local Neighbourhood Watch groups have been warning members about fraudsters using the spread of coronavirus to facilitate various types of fraud and cyber crime.
These include fraudulent traders selling facemasks and phishing emails from organisations claiming to be affiliated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
They claim to be able to provide the recipient with a list of coronavirus infected people in their area through links to malicious websites.
Police Community Support Officers have been instructed to cancel any non-urgent community events, in an effort to help contain the spread of the virus.