Statement from local leaders: Let's be responsible in living with Covid
The changes to Covid-19 restrictions announced on Monday mean we will all have to learn to live with the virus, but we still have a duty to do so responsibly.
If restrictions ease as planned on July 19, we can expect infection rates to increase as we have seen at previous steps of the roadmap out of lockdown.
Currently, our region has some of the highest rates of infections in England. That puts an even greater responsibility on us all to play our part in protecting our loved ones, our neighbours, and our colleagues.
Measures such as wearing a face covering and keeping a safe distance from others have become second nature to many, but soon we will have a personal choice to make as to whether we continue them or not. These will be our own choices to make and only you can decide which steps you should take to keep yourself safe and be considerate of those around you, including those who may be vulnerable or anxious.
We know that these measures are effective at helping to reduce transmission and we would ask you to continue to exercise these and all other precautions where appropriate, such as in shops and on public transport. These measures not only help to protect you, they reduce the risks for others around you as well.
Thankfully, while cases have been rising, we have been reaping the early benefits of the remarkable vaccination rollout. Already we are seeing the signs that vaccines are breaking the link between transmission and serious illness in many instances. But for vaccines to be as effective as they can be, and to fend off the genuine threat of new and more dangerous variants, we need everybody to come forward for both doses.
Everyone over the age of 18 is now eligible for a Covid-19 vaccine. If you haven't done so already, we would urge you to book appointments through the national booking system at www.nhs.uk or attend a local drop-in centre. The more people who come forward for both jabs, the greater the level of protection we all have.
Similarly, testing will continue to be important as we move forward with looser restrictions in place. If you develop even mild symptoms, you must still self-isolate immediately and book a PCR test from www.gov.uk to make sure you don't spread the disease to anybody who may be more susceptible to serious illness. Using Lateral Flow Device tests twice a week will also help to identify if you could be among the one in three people who has the virus without displaying any symptoms, allowing you to self-isolate and stop the virus spreading further.
If you are required to self-isolate, please remember that your local authority will continue to provide welfare and wellbeing support going forwards.
Clearly, Covid-19 will be with us for a considerable time to come. But with the lessons we have learned throughout the pandemic, coupled with the incredible rollout of vaccines, we are equipped to minimise the impact of expected changes to restrictions if we continue to work together as we have done throughout. Until then, please remember that existing restrictions apply, and continue to practice the Hands, Face, Space, Fresh Air guidance at all times.
Wendy Burke, Director of Public Health, North Tyneside
Amanda Healy, Director Public Health, County Durham
Alice Wiseman, Director of Public Health, Gateshead
Lorna Smith, Assistant Director of Public Health, Newcastle
Liz Morgan, Director of Public Health, Northumberland
Tom Hall, Director of Public Health, South Tyneside
Gerry Taylor, Director of Public Health, Sunderland