Harrogate residents urged not to 'overstep the mark' and stick to Covid rules ahead of restrictions easing next week
As the next phase of lifting lockdown restrictions takes place from Monday, March 29, people in North Yorkshire and York are being reminded just how important it is not to stray from the Government's 'roadmap' out of lockdown.
From March 29, outdoor gatherings of up to six people or two households will be allowed, making it easier for friends and families to meet outside, including in private gardens. Social distancing rules remain in place.
Outdoor sports facilities will be allowed to reopen and people will be able to take part in formally organised outdoor sports. Parent and child groups can take place outdoors with a limit of 15, not including children under five.
The ‘stay at home’ rule will end, but many restrictions will remain in place. People should continue to work from home where they can and minimise their journeys. Travel abroad will still be prohibited, other than for a small number of permitted reasons. Holidays abroad will not be allowed.
North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum (NYLRF), which brings together councils, emergency services and health organisations to tackle the pandemic, is urging people not to 'overstep the mark' as restrictions slowly begin to ease.
Louise Wallace, North Yorkshire’s Director of Public Health, said: “The relaxation of restrictions to allow us to meet another household or in groups of up to six people outdoors is welcome. After the tough restrictions and long winter, being able to meet friends or family outdoors will do us all good.
“But while getting together outdoors is good for our mental health and wellbeing, it is important that we do so safely. Follow the rules, maintain social distance and hand hygiene and wear face coverings where required.
“And remember, we still cannot meet anyone from another household indoors. As set out in the Government’s road map, this restriction will not be lifted until 17 May at the earliest.
“Infection rates are still too high and unnecessary social mixing will spread the virus and undo everyone’s hard work. Please remain vigilant and keep sight of our goal. Let’s keep going, so that we can come out of lockdown rather than going back into it.”
The NYLRF says it is important to remember that if you do travel, many facilities will not be open. Few public toilets are expected to be open and eating places can be used only as takeaways. Hand hygiene facilities will be limited and outdoor hospitality will not open before April 12.
To prevent overcrowding, it says people must think twice about visiting tourist hotspots, adding: "If you arrive somewhere and find it busy, consider returning another day or going somewhere else nearby. Behave how you would like others to behave – park thoughtfully and take your litter home."
Louise added: “While there is not a limit on how far you can travel, we’re asking people to be sensible about what’s appropriate. Let’s use our North Yorkshire common sense.”
Sharon Stoltz, director of public health at City of York Council, said: “The fact that we can move to the next step on the roadmap is testament to a huge collective effort from people to stop the spread of the virus.
“With the vaccine roll-out, the weather improving and us moving to the next phase of the roadmap, better times are ahead. We have some amazing open spaces to enjoy that are close to home and getting some fresh air and exercise is good for our physical and mental health.
“Like everyone, I am really looking forward to being able to see friends or family outdoors in line with the national rules from 29 March. However, the virus is still present in our communities and we cannot let our guard down yet. Covid loves a crowd, so please don’t give it the chance to spread. Please continue to follow the rules and keep a safe distance from those not in your household bubble.
“It has been an incredibly hard year for us all, but if we all keep working together we can get back to doing the things we love and seeing the people we love.”
Superintendent Mike Walker, North Yorkshire Police lead for the force’s Covid response, said: “We will continue to play our part in tackling the public health crisis through the Easter holidays and beyond
“Each district has patrol plans in place to ensure there are sufficient resources to provide reassurance and continue our ‘4 Es’ approach – to engage with the public, explain the regulations, encourage compliance, and enforce if there is no other way of dealing with breaches.
“The patrol plans will reflect any changes in legislation post 29 March as part of the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown. We will be able to communicate these changes and our approach once the new health protection regulations have been confirmed.
“When it is safe to do so, we will welcome visitors to the county again. However, everyone can expect to see an increased policing presence as we work alongside our partners to help keep the virus at bay in the weeks and months ahead.
“Also, we expect normal policing demand to increase as the regulations are further relaxed, therefore North Yorkshire Police will utilise the Government’s surge funding provided to ensure we can respond to the public as they would expect.
“My plea to everyone is to be extremely careful and to keep following the regulations until it is safe to resume a more normal way of living – we have come too far and made too many sacrifices for this effort to be wasted now.”
Find Covid-19 information for North Yorkshire at www.northyorks.gov.uk/coronavirus-advice-and-information and the full Government road map at www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-response-spring-2021/covid-19-response-spring-2021-summary