As Government prepares to unveil its new three-tier approach to national, regional and local lockdowns early next week – the leaders at the forefront of fighting the virus in York and North Yorkshire are issuing a stark warning.
Against the backdrop of volatile and rising infection rates in areas covered by the North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum, people are being asked to adhere strictly to the rules or risk a further surge in cases in the coming days.
Dr Lincoln Sargeant is the director of public health for North Yorkshire: “I know that many people are making a concerted effort and I am grateful for their sacrifices but unfortunately not everyone is sticking to the guidance that we know makes the difference.
“This is not about blaming or finger wagging. This is about fighting the virus, supporting our businesses, keeping our schools open and saving lives. I want to be very clear that while many people experience minor symptoms, for some residents who become infected they will sadly not recover. We will see more lives lost and I appeal again for everyone to show real restraint to help avoid that.
“This weekend people may be tempted to get together or meet at pubs and other places in larger groups to socialise. Covid-19 thrives on a crowd and is easily transmitted when your guard is down. Please play your part and protect your friends and family.”
The latest 7-day infections rates (number of cases per 100,000 population in last 7 days) across York and North Yorkshire are as follows.
- City of York - 203
- Craven district – 152.3
- Harrogate – 120.6
- Hambleton – 108.1
- Richmondshire – 100.5
- Ryedale – 99.3
- Selby – 91.6
- Scarborough – 75.4
This compares to the average across England of 124.7 cases per 100,000.
Dr Sargeant continued: “Across the country cases are rising – and these latest figures show North Yorkshire is no different. This ongoing trend of a rising number of cases is a stark reminder to us all that without action we could see a situation that’s very difficult to manage. We all need to play our part - through good hand hygiene, face coverings and social distancing - to manage this ongoing rise in cases.”
Superintendent Mike Walker who is the Gold Commander for NYLRF said: “Last weekend North Yorkshire Police worked alongside our local authority partners to protect the public and this weekend is no different. We will be proactively policing the Covid regulations and despite demand returning to pre-lockdown levels, we are determined to keep people safe and suppress the spread of the virus.
“However, our effort needs to be matched by the public who both live and visit North Yorkshire and the City of York. So far, the vast majority have demonstrated high levels of personal responsibility, for which we are immensely thankful. We all know we must continue to stay alert and keep going for as long as it takes to beat this virus. Just like you, I know we might have to live with its impacts for some time, but our collective determination to beat it will work.
“Extra officers will be patrolling across North Yorkshire and York this weekend, trying to keep everyone safe, but we need your help. If anyone is seeing this weekend as a chance to throw caution to the wind and not follow the restrictions, which everyone should all know and understand, then my message is simple – the police will not tolerate anyone who willingly puts others at risk, by refusing to abide by the regulations. Anyone who acts in such a reckless and irresponsible manner should expect enforcement action to be taken against them.
“So please enjoy what the county and city has to offer, but do so within the restrictions and work with us to keep North Yorkshire safe.”
Councillor Keith Aspden, Leader of City of York Council and Chair of the Outbreak Management Advisory Board said: “Through our collective effort we have been able to keep our city safe and open, however, as cases increase across the country, now more than ever we must focus on protecting our family, friends and neighbours from the virus.
“We understand that this remains a difficult time for many people, but we must continue in these efforts to protect one another and keep the places we love in the city open.
“Whilst we continue working with our excellent public health team and partners to help protect businesses and residents, it is now utterly crucial for us all to work together to help slow the spread of the virus.
“York remains a safe and welcoming city to visit, with local businesses needing our support more than ever. Let’s continue supporting local businesses in a safe way following public health guidance, which remains our best defence against the virus. This way we can ensure our city can remain open, safe and welcoming.”
Everyone can play their part for York and North Yorkshire this weekend by:
- Being extra vigilant and sticking rigorously to hand hygiene and social distancing guidance;
- Taking your face covering with you, whenever you leave home: wearing it in indoors in public places and even outdoors when you are somewhere that is crowded.
- Sticking to the ‘rule of six’;
- Taking extra care when leaving home if you have an underlying health condition or have been advised to shield;
- Getting a test if you have covid symptoms, and persist with the booking system if a local test site is not immediately available. Isolating until you get the test result back.
- If you do not have symptoms, do not get a test, unless directed to do so. Priority is being given to those with symptoms.
NYLRF steps already in place to:
- Direct local testing facilities towards areas of greatest need;
- Step up support to care homes and other care services;
- Re-introduce restrictions to visits to care homes
- Pause the re-opening of social care day services;
- Work with Safety Advisory Groups (SAGs) to develop guidance to ensure events are Covid-19 compliant and to advise on the cancellation of events in areas with high levels of infection to protect lives and livelihoods;
- Work proactively with workplace and hospitality sectors to promote Covid-19 safety measures;
- Support schools and businesses with positive cases to manage incidents and prevent or limit the size of outbreaks.
Many of these measures are being implemented countywide, with some being targeted to those areas that have the highest infection levels.