A determined, united effort is needed across York and North Yorkshire, with everyone pulling together to steer the county away from the escalating numbers of Covid-19 cases, if we are to avoid the sort of lockdowns we are seeing elsewhere.
Residents are being warned that the evidence is clear – following weekends, the county is seeing big and worrying rises in positive tests in a number of towns. These include Harrogate, Whitby and Selby. Only by sticking consistently to the simple, straightforward measures of social distancing, good hand hygiene and wearing face coverings will North Yorkshire avoid further increases in the number of positive tests.
The warning comes as the Government announces its “rule of six”, which from Monday will limit outdoor meetings in England to a maximum of six people, observing social distancing guidance.
Richard Flinton, Chair of the North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum, said: “People across the county have made tremendous efforts over the last six months to observe the safety measures to keep themselves, their families and neighbours safe. We are extremely grateful for that – but now we are teetering on the edge of some real issues, with positive cases rising particularly it seems following weekend socialising in some areas.
“We need to remember the basics and stick to them. We must follow the simple, straightforward safety messages.
“The Government is bringing in the new ‘rule of six’ from Monday, but our message is let’s be doing that now, let’s not wait until Monday, let’s be sure that we are applying that way of thinking and behaving right now!
“Let’s remember this as we head into the weekend. Do not be tempted to gather with family or friends in larger groups. The time for that will come, but now it is time to stand firm and keep our eye on the prize of better, safer times ahead.”
Like the rest of the country, North Yorkshire has seen a significant rise in cases in the last week, particularly among young people. There have been increases across the county, but particularly in the Selby, Scarborough and Harrogate areas. The last seven days saw 146 new cases in North Yorkshire, including 45 in the Harrogate district, 32 in Scarborough borough and 43 in Selby district.
Richard added: “We are not saying there should be lockdowns or that businesses should close, but we do need to be at a heightened level of awareness and take strong precautions as we go about our daily lives.
“If we all do that, we can hope to start to see a tailing off in the escalating figures we have at the moment.
“There is no doubt we are at a pivotal moment. Please, play your part.
“For the sake of our parents, grandparents, the many vulnerable people trying to resume some level of freedom in this new norm – for the sake of our economy and businesses – please stick to the guidance and follow the simple precautions that we know work the best.
“Most recent cases in the county appear to be among younger people, those under 30. If you have a young person living at home with you, talk to them about the risks, not just to themselves but to others.”
Commenting on the significant increase in the number of cases in North Yorkshire over the past week, particularly among the under-30s, Chief Inspector Charlotte Bloxham said: “The measures that have been announced regarding social gathering and the ‘rule of six’ are steps that Government and health professionals have deemed necessary to help to control the spread of the virus.
“It’s vital that we react quickly to this advice and do everything we can to prevent the spread of the virus, as we all know how dangerous and devastating Covid-19 can be. It’s important that everyone takes personal responsibility to ensure that they adhere to the guidance around not meeting in groups larger than six people, both indoors and outdoors and remembers the ‘hands, face, space’ advice.
“In previous months, the public of North Yorkshire have responded brilliantly when new advice has been issued and we are fortunate that the large majority of the public want to work with us to help protect the vulnerable and keep our communities safe. We expect the same response from the public in this instance.
“While enforcement powers will start from Monday, we would encourage everyone to implement the ‘rule of six’ straight away and we would particularly encourage those in the most affected age groups to consider the responsibility they carry when they do socialise. While they themselves may not be suffering any sign of illness, they can carry the virus and infect others with it. So please ensure you maintain the two-metre distance and wear a face covering when needed.
“Regarding our operational response to the changes which come into effect on Monday, we will continue to follow our usual approach of engaging, explaining and encouraging people to act responsibly and only resorting to enforcement when absolutely necessary.”
The Hands, Face, Space guidance includes:
- Wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds with soap and water or use hand sanitiser.
- Keep a safe two-metre distance, meet outside where possible, avoid crowded places, do not meet up with anyone outside your home if you have Covid-19 symptoms.
- You must wear a face covering on public transport, in shops and in indoor public spaces.
- If you have Covid-19 symptoms, book a test immediately and self-isolate at home: visit www.northyorks.gov.uk/TestandTrace or call 119.
Test and Trace
From Monday (14 September), it will be mandatory for pubs, restaurants and other businesses to collect contact details of customers if case those people need to be contacted as part of the test and trace process. Please help businesses by complying with.