Health officials warn 'dangerous' December could threaten North Yorkshire's Tier 1 hopes
Health leaders in North Yorkshire have warned of a "dangerous" December that could threaten the county's Tier 1 hopes.
Officials at the North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum today thanked members of the public for bringing coronavirus infection rates down low enough to place the county into Tier 2 next week.
However, they said there were concerns it could face a "massive rebound" of cases if people become too complacent as lockdown ends on December 2 and rules are relaxed further over Christmas.
Dr Lincoln Sargeant, the county's director of public health, told a briefing that infection rates across the county are still ten times higher than the end of August and urged people to take a cautious approach to the festive season.
He said: "If we try to beat the rules or cut the corners all we do is give the virus a chance to rebound and we know from experience if we lose control we have to put in really drastic measures.
"It is important that we do not see the emergence from lockdown into this next phase as a reason to relax our vigilance."
The county's weekly infection rate has almost halved in the last two weeks from 316 cases per 100,000 people to 158.
However, it is still significantly higher than it was at the end of August (8.6).
Along with other regions across the country, North Yorkshire's tier status will be reviewed fortnightly - with the first coming on December 16.
Richard Flinton, chair of the North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum, thanked members of the public for their efforts in suppressing the virus but warned the county is entering a "dangerous phase" with the end of lockdown.
He said: "To each and every one of you who has played their part to get the rates down I am grateful; please keep going because there really is light at the end of the tunnel now. If we can keep that downward trend, we will all get back to as close to normality as possible sooner.
“The government has said today that it will review the tiers fortnightly, so if we keep on pulling together to follow the restrictions there is always the chance we can go into the lowest tier 1.”
By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter