Leaders in North Yorkshire have urged residents to do everything they can to help drive down infection rates as the Government announced today that the county would remain in tier 2.
Rates in North Yorkshire are still below the England average.
However, officials say the rate of reduction has slowed significantly since the end of the latest lockdown and there is concern that in some districts, especially Scarborough, the rate is beginning to rise markedly again.
Richard Flinton, chair of the North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum, said: “We know there will be some disappointment in areas where rates are lower, that we remain in tier 2 as a whole county.
“But we can see that rates of reduction have flattened out and in some areas have risen again and our priority has to be about keeping our people Covid safe as we move into the Christmas period.
“We want people to be free from Covid; for businesses to operate more freely, for schools to remain open; and for public services to operate as normal – that has to be our ultimate goal and if we have to stay in tier 2 to achieve it then we must work to the Government’s tiering plan.”
“The fact is, though we remain below the England average, the rate nationally is rising and we must remember that the current rate for North Yorkshire (108.2/100k) is still five times higher than the rate in the Summer.
“We are by no means out of the woods. People are continuing to die of Covid-19 in the county.
“Several of our hospitals remain under pressure and some are experiencing an increase in Covid cases. Infection levels amongst people aged over 60 are reducing in the main, but we still have outbreaks in 36 out of 235 care homes and cases are increasing in these settings.
“We have to remain vigilant. We have practical advice and support in place for businesses, schools and care services – as well as targeting messaging, door knocking and enforcement, along with police and district council colleagues in those communities that are experiencing spikes in rates.
“We continue to address concerns about people travelling from tier three areas into the County – however, the major challenge continues to be household mixing within the county.
“A third wave is not inevitable but each and every one of us still needs to do everything we can to avoid it becoming a reality. Please keep to the rules so we can save lives, support businesses and schools and avoid tougher restrictions in the coming weeks.
With tiering regulations set to relax over the five day Christmas period 23rd to 27th December, Richard Flinton said it was critical that people made every effort to stick to regulations and safety guidance now.
He said: “Covid is the gift that none of us want on Christmas Day, or that we give to our loved ones. Anyone who contracts the virus today and in the run-up to Christmas, could become a Christmas super-spreader.
“So, please take what steps you can to minimise your social contacts and keep safe.”
Amanda Bloor, NHS North Yorkshire CCG accountable officer, representing North Yorkshire and York NHS, said: “Colleagues across the NHS continue to do a phenomenal job to provide health services for the people of North Yorkshire and York.
“Even though there will be a brief and specific relaxation of Government guidance over the holiday period we are urging people to make sensible choices in the days ahead to prevent an upward surge of Covid-positive cases as we move into our busiest time of the NHS year. Your choices now will help protect NHS services for those who need them most this winter.”
Chief Inspector Charlotte Bloxham, silver lead for North Yorkshire Police’s Covid response, said: “We know that Christmas is a time when we want to celebrate together and see our family and friends.
“From the 23 to 27 December the restrictions around gathering indoors will change and for a limited period and up to three households will have the opportunity to form a Christmas bubble.
“While the restrictions around indoor gatherings may relax, it’s vital that our approach to fighting this virus does not. No matter what time of year it is, Covid-19 remains a deadly threat.
“I’d ask people to carefully consider their own situation and make an informed decision based on their own personal circumstances. If you have vulnerable people in your family, please consider carefully whether forming a Christmas bubble with them is the right thing to do.
“If you do decide to go ahead and mix your households, please make sure you follow the guidance to ensure that your Christmas bubble is as Covid-safe as it possibly can be.
“Please also remember that from 28 December, we will revert back to the tier 2 restrictions and the rules around no indoor gatherings and no more than six people meeting outdoors will again apply. There will be no exemption period in place for New Year’s Eve celebrations, so it may be an idea to plan now for a quiet end to 2020.”