North Yorkshire’s coast is heading towards Tier 3 restrictions unless everyone takes rapid action to stop the spread of Covid-19 ahead of Christmas.
The rallying cry has gone out to everyone living in Scarborough borough to play their part in the drive to avoid a New Year spike in Covid-19 cases, like the one seen locally in November.
The call comes as infection rates in the area have risen from 132/100,000 to 214/100,000 since the national lockdown was lifted a fortnight ago.
If these increases continue at the same pace, the area will face the prospect of Tier 3 restrictions, with all the disruption that could cause for the whole community and, especially, the local economy, as well as the impact it will have on local NHS and care services.
Transmission within households remains the biggest factor in the number of cases and as Christmas approaches people are urged to think carefully before meeting family or friends.
Richard Webb, North Yorkshire County Council’s Director of Health and Adult Services, said: “We know the great efforts and sacrifices so many people have made over the past nine months to keep themselves and others safe. Let’s make sure those efforts are not in vain.
“The vast majority of people are following the rules, and we thank you for that. It is a minority that is not doing so and is letting down everyone else and putting themselves and others at risk.
“Your actions now and over the holiday period will have a major impact on our way of life and could put extra strain on our local hospitals and GPs, at what is already the busiest time of the year for them. No-one wants to give or receive coronavirus for Christmas, so if you do decide to meet friends and family over Christmas, keep contact to a minimum, and start by reducing your social contacts now.
“A third wave of the pandemic and tougher restrictions are not inevitable. We can all take action now to keep the virus in check. Please follow the rules, avoid household mixing, limit your social contacts and remember to wash your hands and wear face coverings.”
Nick Edwards, Scarborough Borough Council Director, said: “We know more people are out and about getting ready for Christmas but that isn’t a reason to bend the rules. When communities pull together, as we saw last month, it has a really positive effect so we’re asking for the same effort again to avoid more severe restrictions in the New Year. Please do everything you can to follow the guidance to protect those around you and protect the NHS.
“And, if you’re still wondering whether to meet up with people on Christmas Day, remember that just because you can, doesn’t mean you have to. Please think carefully about your plans and think small.”
North Yorkshire Police Chief Inspector Charlotte Bloxham said: “Unfortunately, we’ve seen an increase in the number of fixed penalty notices that we’ve had to issue in Scarborough, due to people not adhering to the guidance around gathering. Of the 45 fines handed out since the 2 December, 36 of these have been in the Scarborough district. So, sadly, it’s not a surprise to see that the number of Covid cases are increasing.
“What is sad to see is that minority of people who are choosing to flout the rules and have parties and gather together, putting the lives and livelihoods of so many at risk.
“It’s clear to everyone – the more you mix and socialise, the higher the risk of contracting the virus and passing it on. And with the Christmas exemption period approaching, if you go out and mix now and contract the virus but have no symptoms, the odds are that you’ll infect your friends and family with it if you choose to form a Christmas bubble with them.
“So for your own sake, for your family’s sake and for your community’s sake – please stick to the Tier 2 guidance around no indoor gatherings and the rule of six outdoors.
“As ever, we’ll be policing our coastal communities and we’ll be enforcing the Covid regulations where proportionate and necessary to do so. Please adhere to the restrictions, or you may find yourselves with the unwanted gift of a £200 fine for Christmas.”
Practical advice and support is in place for businesses, schools and care services, alongside targeted messaging, door knocking and enforcement in partnership with the Police and Borough Council.
Concerns about people travelling from Tier 3 areas to the coast are being addressed. However, the major challenge continues to be household mixing among people living in the borough.
To stop the virus in its tracks, please remember:
- mixing indoors with people you don’t live with causes the virus to spread through your community rapidly;
- if you have coronavirus symptoms, no matter how mild, self-isolate immediately and book a test – it’s easy to arrange and helps to protect those around you;
- if you meet up with people outdoors, keep your distance and stay safe;
- choose quieter times for shopping;
- think carefully about Christmas and think small;
- if meeting loved ones on Christmas Day, reduce your contacts as much as possible and start now; and
- wash your hands, cover your face and make space.