Guidance on protecting yourself and others from Covid-19 in North Yorkshire.
Keeping yourself and others safe
- Getting vaccinated is the best line of defence - two doses plus the booster offer much more protection than a single jab. Make sure you get both of your vaccine jabs and your booster as soon as you can.
- Knowing if we’re positive with Covid-19 gives us the power to protect those around us. Don't ignore the signs. If you have symptoms, no matter how mild, get a PCR test and follow self-isolating guidance.
- Around one in three people don't show any Covid-19 symptoms but can still pass on the virus. Even if you don't have symptoms keep home testing regularly with a LFD test.
- Wearing a face covering reduces the risk to you and others, especially in crowded outdoor spaces. From 10 December, unless exempt, face coverings will be required by law in most indoor settings. See more information about when you are required to wear a face covering.
- Lots of fresh air reduces the risk of breathing in Covid-19 particles. Meet outdoors if you can, open windows and doors if meeting inside to let in as much fresh air as possible.
- Keep making space between ourselves and others to reduce the risk of getting Covid-19.
- Wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available.
- Some people may be more vulnerable to Covid-19 or less confident of being outside. Be considerate and make space.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze, put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards.
- Keep using the NHS Test and Trace app to check into businesses so people can be alerted to possible cases and help stop the spread.
- Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.
- If you're contacted by NHS Test and Trace, by phone, email, text message or the app, follow the self-isolation period.
See how people across North Yorkshire are helping to keep everyone safe
Will Wale, owner of Scawton Kitchens at Scawton, and his staff were given a rare perspective on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic right from the start.
Will and his team make and fit kitchens and bathrooms, as well as making bespoke furniture. The first lockdown last year halted much of that work.
However, the business was awarded an NHS contract to make coffins for victims of Covid-19. These were coffins for use in a morgue to store bodies before funerals.
“We were key workers,” says Will. “We were making and delivering coffins for people who died just from Covid in London.
“We saw it from a side that I don’t think many people even now have seen, so we took it quite seriously. We realised we have to do our part to make sure the coffins we were making weren’t for us or people that we knew. Pretty much from the start, we had a unique perspective.”
The team was also able to work on commissioned pieces of furniture at their workshop until it became possible to go back into people’s homes.
“We always have a conversation with the customer so they know where they stand before we go in and we know what they are happy with,” says Will. “The customers I have are generally respectful and aware of what is going on, they tend to have an understanding.”
Will continues to take this approach, and things are going well for the business. He has doubled his staff from five to ten as people decide to spend money on their homes rather than go on holiday.
“Respect is one of the biggest things in dealing with people’s views and opinions,” he says.
“Covid is not going anywhere. What people think or want to happen doesn’t matter. The world has been turned on its head by this virus. The way that we deal with people has changed.
“By disagreeing with someone’s decision, you are imposing your will upon them. I don’t think people realise that is what they are doing, but it is. Everybody should be able to make their own choice, whether to wear a mask or not, about social distancing and shaking hands. It’s about respecting that decision.”
Respect for individual choices is a driving force behind the approach of the Holiday Inn Darlington at Scotch Corner when it comes to living with Covid-19.
The 91-room hotel has stayed open throughout the pandemic, initially for key workers, and has constantly adapted how it has operated over the past 18 months.
Just recently, the hotel made the decision to allow staff to make their own choice about whether to wear a facemask, and most of the team have chosen to carry on doing so. Other measures remain in place, such as screens at reception and a booking system for breakfast to avoid too many people congregating in the restaurant at the peak time. A similar booking system applies for the swimming pool in the adjoining leisure club.
General manager Tim Snowdon says that all guests are invited to complete a survey about their stay and the hotel scores consistently highly when people are asked whether they feel covid-secure.
“It is about respecting other people’s positions,” says Tim. “We are all in a different place. Some of us are more vulnerable than others. You have to respect the fact that some people are still apprehensive about coming out into public.
“There has to be acceptance and respect that we are all in this place and it will take time for people to get back their confidence. That’s the message we’re trying to get across to people, as much for staff as for guests.”
Carl and Helen Hitchens planned to open their crafts café in a former fish and chip shop in Eastborough, Scarborough, in March last year – then the pandemic struck.
Crafty Creations Cafe finally opened in July, but only briefly before a further lockdown closed it until spring. It offers customers the chance to try various crafts, particularly painting ceramics, but also fabric workshops and jewellery making, all alongside tea, coffee and cake.
“It’s really about social interaction,” says Carl, “which has been quite hard to get up and running.”
Since reopening, the emphasis has been on safety and comfort for customers.
“At the start we combined the tables to make bigger tables for social distancing,” says Carl. “We have decided to keep it like that even after all the restrictions lifted, because we found it is a better environment socially.
“Obviously it reduces capacity a bit, but we’re finding it a much better experience for people who visit. Everyone has commented that they like space and room to get the paints out and spread out, so that has been one of the positives.
“It is about being sensible. It was a real benefit spreading ourselves out and giving people space. It has made things much smoother and more enjoyable.”
Some customers are quite blasé following the lifting of restrictions, while others remain cautious.
“A lot of people still come in with their masks on and wear them till they sit down,” adds Helen. “Others have left them behind now.
“One of the positives we have seen is extended families getting together, so grandparents and grandchildren. That has been a nice development.”
The couple have also been helping other local businesses with their risk assessments. Helen teaches part-time and Carl used to work for the University of Sheffield, so they have taken aspects of the risk assessments carried out by those workplaces, for example around cleaning schedules and sanitiser quality, and applied them to the café.
“We spent quite a lot of time developing that and shared it with other local businesses as well,” says Helen.
Customer service has never been more important in ensuring people enjoy their shopping experience, says Nicola Kew, manager of the Baytree Interiors store in Scarborough.
The shop, one of 11 owned by the family firm with two more opening soon, has come out of pandemic restrictions strongly.
“Since we reopened, we have had a lot of customers who have not been able to go away on holiday, so they have invested their time and money in their homes, which helps us greatly,” says Nicola.
The store introduced numerous measures to keep people safe and some of them, including a one-way system, continue. Staff are asked to wear masks and they take regular lateral flow tests.
“People have been brilliant,” says Nicola. “They have adapted, they have put their masks on, been really understanding about the one-way system.”
Nicola reckons about 90 per cent of customers choose to continue to wear a mask.
“We get a lot of older customers,” she says, “and because they have had to stay at home for so long we are finding that they are a bit nervous. They often don’t do a lot of shopping so they are unsure. Customer service has come more to the fore now than ever before, because you have to help people to relax. Precautious are in place, but we want you to have a nice time, to feel comfortable.
“All my girls are really happy and laughy and chatty, so that certainly helps, but we do have people who are incredibly nervous. It is a case of trying to keep people comfortable. You have to adapt your customer service to the person who is walking through the door.
“We keep the procedures in place, because it does tend to help everybody. It calms down the ones who are totally confident and makes the others feel a little bit safer.”
Taking customer service a step further, the store offers appointments to some concerned customers, staying open late so they can visit when they feel comfortable.
Respect is paramount for Andrew Newton, owner of Twiggy’s indoor play in Thirsk, when it comes to running his business during the pandemic.
The business saw a massive decline in revenue even before the first lockdown, because of parents’ concerns about the coming pandemic, and the business was closed during much of last year. Now, while Twiggy’s is open again and is not struggling, Andrew can see that indoor play as a whole will struggle with staffing and the supply chain and hesitancy from people about returning.
“The big thing is that every customer we have is different,” he says. “We all have to respect each other and make their whole visit as safe and comfortable as possible. It is everybody’s duty to do that.
“As winter comes and people are being pushed together inside, in situations like ours and in pubs and restaurants, it is going to be really vital that that message gets over.”
The vast majority of customers understand the simple safety measures in place at Twiggy’s, but a small minority reacts aggressively, turning on staff with abusive tirades.
Andrew has also seen a social impact caused by the closure of businesses like his.
“We are seeing a lot of hesitancy from families because they have very young children, and we’re seeing very young children and babies that have been born or were very young at the start of the pandemic coming and socialising for the first time in their lives.
“These are two-year-olds who have never socialised with other children or adults and there is a lot of tension and worried parents. They are worried about their child, but they know they need to socialise. I can see parents struggling with social interactions and with a new child in their family. I fear for the mental health of our customers.
“We need to start looking at our younger people and young families and the long-term for them.”
Lucy Currie, who has run Evolve NCA gym in Northallerton since 2017, understands better than many the risks of Covid-19.
Lucy caught the virus last November, and almost a year on still suffers the effects of long covid. Naturally, Lucy was a very active person, but currently her exercise is limited to 25 minutes walking a week, and that has only recently increased from ten minutes.
“It had had an impact on my ability to run my business,” says Lucy, “as normally I would work a lot of hours. I can’t do that because I don’t have the energy. It has made me much more aware of making sure we don’t put other people at risk. I am very well aware that we need to and should look out for each other as much as we possibly can.”
For much of the past 18 months, the business faced enforced closure. Lucy says the biggest downside for many of her members was that the gym was not just about physical wellbeing, it was about mental health, too, so to lose that outlet was incredibly frustrating.
Business has picked up since gyms were allowed to reopen, but many people are still wary of returning.
“You have so many people who are not just thinking about themselves,” says Lucy. “They are thinking beyond that, about vulnerable family or their own business, which they don’t want to risk having to close, so that keeps people away.
“For the business, that’s a little frustrating, but completely understandable. We have a moral duty to look after each other, and people are absolutely right to do so.”
The gym has a strict regime in place, with members understanding the need for mutual respect and practical measures like ensuring they clean and put away equipment after use.
“Our members have been brilliant,” says Lucy, “but they are under no illusion that if they are not respectful of each other they are not welcome.
“One of the things we have cultivated in this gym right from the start, long before Covid came along, is a very friendly and close-knit environment. We have members aged from 16 to 83 and everyone needs to feel equally comfortable.”
She says that a lot of the older members didn’t know each other outside the gym, but during the first lockdown would pick up the phone and make sure they were each OK.
“We get a broad mix of people from different backgrounds. There is a lot of friendship and there is a lot of respect for each other,” she says.
“It’s a small unit and if we don’t all work together it’s going to make people feel uncomfortable and I never want anyone to feel uncomfortable in my gym.”
Jessica Barker, owner of Thief Hall, a wedding venue at Thornton-le-Moor, understands very well the need to consider every type of person when learning to live with Covid-19.
Since reopening, the venue has been flat out, with weddings every weekend and midweek and up to around 100 guests at each event.
Her three teams of staff, who manage the weddings on a rota, are tested three times a week. Jessica also asks all guests to provide proof of a negative lateral flow test before attending, and if any are unwilling to do so they are not welcome at the wedding.
Jessica says that the couples who use the venue all understand that if they ensure their wedding goes ahead safely, it means the next wedding can go ahead.
“People have to understand it is not just about them,” she says. “At every wedding there are nanas and grandads, elderly guests and little ones. It only takes one person with Covid to upset the apple cart.
“A wedding is like going clubbing or partying, but it’s extended hours, you’re often socialising for ten or twelve hours.
“A wedding is a unique mix of old and young, all socialising for such long hours. The couples definitely understand that they want to keep everyone safe. It is some of the guests that perhaps don’t have that respect.”
The venue has not had one wedding this year without a guest having to cancel because their lateral flow test was positive.
Jessica is worried about another lockdown or a reduction in the size of weddings in winter, which would squeeze the business further. She has decided to close for several weekends in January and February to reduce the risk of cancellations.
“At the moment, safety over profit has to be the way forward, which in turn helps your reputation and helps you look after your staff,” she says. “It is a very difficult time for us, but thank goodness we are open again.”
“You have to respect people’s wishes and people’s space,” says Stuart Fusco, part of the third generation Whitby Fish and Chips family business.
The company runs the Quayside, which Stuart manages, the Royal Fisheries and Fishbox takeaways in Whitby and Robin Hood’s Bay. Stuart’s grandad started the business in Pickering before moving to Whitby 50 years ago. Stuart has managed the Quayside since 1999, and the restaurant has won numerous awards, including best fish and chip shop in the country in 2014.
Since coming out of restrictions, business during the summer has been really good for the restaurant.
Stuart says: “When restaurants reopened, we spaced the tables out, put screens between tables, spacing it out and slowing it right down. We worked in bubbles, too. We did everything properly and didn’t rush.”
Screens also went up in the takeaways. Some measures have since been removed, but others remain for the peace of mind of customers and staff.
“In the restaurant, the tables are still spaced out, so we have not increased capacity,” says Stuart. “We want to make sure that once a customer comes in they get the right experience.
“You have to respect people’s wishes and people’s space. People have got used to distancing to the point where they are just happier with a bit of space. It just feels like a safe, calm environment.”
Some people are apprehensive about visiting the dentist at the best of times, but now more than ever a dental surgery is probably among the safest places you could be.
Mark Green, a dentist at the Alpha Kirkbymoorside practice, points out that there has been no identified transmission of Covid-19 between a dentist and patient or vice versa anywhere in the world throughout the pandemic.
“We are very good at cross-infection control,” he says. “We have been doing it for years. This is nothing new, it’s just a new virus. We did not have to train teams up, we were already trained.”
The practice has also invested in an air filtration unit to make the air as clean as possible, the team is vaccinated, the staff are used to wearing masks, gowns and gloves – they’ve been doing so for years – and patients are required to wear a mask around the surgery.
“Inside the dentist’s surgery is safe,” says Mark. “The investment that practices have put in to already robust cross-infection control measures means it is probably as safe a place as you could ever be.
“It is a controlled environment and very safe. Certainly the dentist’s should not be a place you should be scared of.”
Mark hasn’t particularly seen hesitancy among patients, but recognises some people are ready to crack on while others remain apprehensive.
“Dentists went back to work after about three weeks,” he says. “We have been back at the coalface, so we have become accustomed to it. The longer it goes on for a lot of people, fear builds, because as getting out and about is delayed it becomes more of an issue.
“I think pragmatism is coming back into it now. There was fear of the unknown. We now know a lot more about it, know how to treat it. The vaccine has helped massively, so now that fear is replaced by knowledge, and when you have knowledge you can make more rational decisions.”
It is important to visit your dentist, not only for the care of your teeth, but the other routine health checks dentists carry out, such as cancer screening.
Fred Brown, a driver for A2B taxis in Northallerton, saw much of his work dry up during the first lockdown – so much so that he had to sell his home and move somewhere cheaper.
He drove part-time, fulfilling an NHS contract to transport patients, but was furloughed two days a week.
“During lockdown there was no money to be made,” he says. “There is only so long that your mortgage company will give you a holiday, so we sold our house and bought a cheaper one. That’s how we got through it, otherwise we would have been homeless. It was a pretty drastic move, but it has all worked out fine.”
He is now working full-time again, on day shifts, and things are picking up, but takings are still about a third down on those pre-pandemic.
“The worst thing that could happen for me is that there is another lockdown,” says Fred. “God knows how I’d get through that.”
Many of Fred’s customers are elderly and the vast majority are happy to wear a mask, though some younger people less so.
“Before anybody gets into the car I put my mask on,” he says. “That tends to prompt them to say do you want me to wear my mask and I’ll say if you don’t mind, yes. Then usually I don’t get any bother.
“I keep a box of masks in the front compartment. Quite often people will get in and say they’ve forgotten their mask. I say just open that and you’ll find a box in there. That works.”
Fred reckons we’ve lived with Covid for so long that people are finding it difficult to adapt to a return to something like normality.
“Most of my elderly customers are venturing out,” he says, “but a lot of them have only just started and they find it a bit strange going out. Some of them haven’t been out for nearly two years.”
There has been an upside for Fred.
“I have suffered with a bad chest since I was a kid,” he says. “Since people started wearing masks, I have never had a cold. I used to live in Asia and used to think it was weird that all the taxi drivers wore masks, but now I know why.
“Twice a year I get such a bad chest usually I pull a muscle from coughing, but during the pandemic I have had nothing, so my mask is staying on.”
Everyone has a story – and when it comes to how we treat people over the way they deal with the pandemic, that should be enough to ensure we respect their choices.
Alex Smith, who runs the Treatment Rooms beauty salon in Harrogate, does all she can to make her customers feel safe and comfortable.
Alex says: “For me, and I say this to my staff, you don’t know why someone is wearing a mask. They might be poorly, they might have somebody at home that they need to protect. Everyone has a story and you just have no idea. That’s why you don’t ask questions, if somebody wants to wear a mask, that’s up to them, it’s not going to affect us.”
Business has been going very well at the Treatment Rooms since it reopened in April, so much so that Alex has taken on a new therapist.
Alex says: “I don’t know whether it’s because in the time we were closed I was able to concentrate on our website and social media, or – and I think this is more likely to be the reason – because people have just come out and want to spend a bit more time and money on themselves.”
Talking to other salons and hairdressers, Alex find they are also thriving.
The salon still has precautions in place, with 15 minutes between appointments to limit the number of people on the premises at one time, a strict hygiene and cleaning regime, and regular lateral flow tests for staff.
“We have made masks optional, mainly because a lot of our clients are double vaccinated and feel more comfortable,” says Alex. “However, if they don’t and would like to wear a mask, that is not a problem. I’d say 90 per cent of customers are glad that normal life is returning, but there is still a few that are a bit nervous and still take precautions, maybe because they have underlying conditions or live with a vulnerable partner or relative.”
Alex and her staff aim to make a visit to the salon a break from thoughts of the pandemic.
“We try not to talk about it while they are here,” she says, “because they have come to us to relax and get away from everything else. We are obviously aware it’s still there, but I don’t think it needs to be the topic all the time.”
People before profit is the philosophy of Emma Simmons, owner of Salon 54 in Thirsk, as her business and the community it serves learn to live with Covid-19.
The salon was closed for much of last year.
“We have been here for more than 20 years and last year was the most difficult we have had,” says Emma. “I was not sure whether we were going to come out the other side of it.”
Initially on reopening there was a rush of people who had been waiting to get their hair done through lockdown, but that tailed off as some people remained cautious. Gradually, things are getting back to normal, but Emma knows some clients remain cautious and are yet to return.
“We are at a nice level,” says Emma. “We are busy, looking at appointments six weeks in advance.”
Many of the measures put in place earlier in the pandemic remain. Staff continue to wear masks and take Covid tests twice a week to ensure they don’t put vulnerable clients at risk. Clients are seated at alternate stations, so they are more than two metres apart, and the salon is taking fewer booking to limit the number of people there at any time. Time is factored in for thorough cleaning of equipment and the workstations between each customer.
“We are putting the clients’ safety before profit, to make sure they feel safe while they are here,” says Emma.
“I get a lot of people saying that the salon is the place where they feel most safe. So I don’t want to start taking things away, because I want clients to be reassured that we are doing everything we can, even if it is at a cost to the business through having fewer clients at any one time.
“We are taking less income while we can. That is not going to be sustainable long-term, but I’d rather keep ticking along safely than put money before everything else and perhaps have to shut the salon because of a Covid outbreak.”
Clients are emailed when they make an appointment to give them information and remind them to cancel if they develop Covid symptoms.
“Ninety-nine per cent of people coming in are automatically wearing a mask, so I think that is an indication that people are still a little bit worried,” says Emma.
Download a face covering poster
Shops can download a copy of the respect and protect face covering poster (pdf / 2 MB) to print and display in their premises.
Frequently asked questions about the Covid rules
From 10 December, unless exempt, face coverings will be required by law in most indoor settings. See more information about when you are required to wear a face covering.
If you have any coronavirus symptoms, no matter how mild, you should get a PCR test and follow self-isolation guidance. The most common symptoms of Covid-19 are a high temperature, loss or change to sense of smell or taste and a new continuous cough.
If you feel unwell but don’t have Covid-19 symptoms, or your Covid-19 test is negative, you may still have an illness which could be passed on to other people. Staying at home until you feel better reduces the risk that you will pass on an illness to your friends, colleagues, and others in your community. This will help reduce the burden on our health services.
Yes. If you have Covid-19 symptoms find your nearest symptomatic testing site, or call 119. If you don’t have symptoms, and would like to do a lateral flow (LFD) test, these are available from most pharmacies or you can order them online to be delivered to your door.
If you have symptoms, you need to have a PCR test. Find your nearest symptomatic testing site or call 119.
If you do not have symptoms, you can use a home lateral flow test. Lateral flow tests are available from most pharmacies or you can order them online to be delivered to your door.
You should self-isolate if:
- you have any Covid-19 symptoms, no matter how mild
- you are waiting for the results of your PCR test
- you have tested positive for Covid-19 and need to follow self-isolating guidance
- you have been informed that you are a contact of a person who has had a positive test
When self-isolating you must stay at home and not leave the house apart from to get a PCR test. Do not go to work, school, or public areas, and do not use public transport or taxis.
You can stop self-isolating at the start of day 6 if you get 2 negative rapid lateral flow test results on days 5 and 6 and do not have a temperature. Tests must be at least 24 hours apart. If either test is positive, wait 24 hours before testing again.
Do not go outside even to buy food or other essentials, except in certain specific circumstances. Any exercise must be taken within your home, garden or private outdoor space.
It is very important that you follow this advice even if you feel well. This will help protect your family, friends and the NHS.
Regular testing at home using a lateral flow device (LFD) is encouraged. These tests can detect if you are positive or negative for Covid-19. Following a positive result, you must self-isolate for 10 days and book a symptomatic PCR test at a local testing site. Lateral flow home test kits are easily available and free of charge. Lateral flow tests are available from most pharmacies or you can order them online to be delivered to your door.
NHS Test and Trace will get in touch with anyone who is a contact of someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 by text message, email, phone or the NHS Covid-19 app.
Yes. People who test positive or are identifies as a close contact, cannot work from home whilst self-isolating and would experience financial hardships, may be eligible for the £500 support payment from their local authority. Find out if you are eligible and apply for the payment from your local district council:
Yes, there may be times when you could be asked to keep space between yourself and others. This would be for your own safety and the safety of those around you.
While venues no longer legally require you to check in using the NHS Test and Trace App you should continue using it wherever possible. Using the QR code helps the NHS Test & Trace service reduce the risk of any further spread of the virus.
Office workers who can work from home should do so from Monday 13 December. Anyone who cannot work from home should continue to go into work.