As we go about our daily lives after the lifting of pandemic restrictions a little kindness goes a long way in supporting each other.

After a tough 18 months, some people are more confident than others about returning to normal activities. Some may feel anxious. Our Respect and Protect campaign asks us all to help each other to feel safe and supported and to respect individual choices.

Simple steps can make life better for everyone:

  • Accept that some people will want to carry on with social distancing;
  • Help people find their feet by looking out for neighbours and friends;
  • Suggest meeting outdoors in a quiet place for people who feel anxious;
  • Help people to go at their own pace;
  • If you know people are lonely, encourage them to talk about it and to get help.
  • Help people to spend time outside, gardening or walking or being in a green space to relieve stress;

Find tips to help to ease you back into normal life.

Vaccination is our best line of defence. Make sure you get both of your vaccine jabs as soon as you can. Regular testing, isolating when necessary, wearing a face covering and washing hands regularly are all still important.

Businesses are giving customers confidence through Covid safety measures. It is a tough time for small businesses, so please respect their efforts when making decisions about facemasks and distancing. Some have spoken about their approach.

Will Wale, owner of Scawton Kitchens at Scawton, and his staff make and fit kitchens and bathrooms, as well as making bespoke furniture.

“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.

“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.”

Lucy Currie has run Evolve NCA gym in Northallerton since 2017. She says: “You have so many people who are not just thinking about themselves. They are thinking beyond that, about vulnerable family or their own business, which they don’t want to risk having to close.”

She adds: “Our members have been brilliant, 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.”

Nicola Kew, store manager, Baytree Interiors, Scarborough, says customer service has never been more important in ensuring people enjoy their shopping experience.

“People have been brilliant,” says Nicola. “They have adapted, they have put their masks on, been really understanding about the one-way system.

“We get a lot of older customers, 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.

“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.”

People before profit is the philosophy of Emma Simmons, owner of Salon 54 in Thirsk.

“We are putting the clients’ safety before profit, to make sure they feel safe while they are here,” she says. “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 measures 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.”

Mark Green, dentist at Alpha Kirkbymoorside, is quick to reassure people about the safety of dental surgeries.

“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.

“Inside the dentist’s surgery is safe. 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.”