The Government has confirmed it will proceed with taking the next step on the Roadmap out of lockdown, with most restrictions set to be lifted next week.
As this comes at a time when cases are rapidly increasing, this means Covid-19 is here to stay and we will all have to learn to live with the virus.
We all have a part to play in making this work and keeping our communities safe.
Thankfully, communities across our region have shown incredible determination and resolve throughout the pandemic to support one another through previous waves, and we have every confidence in all our residents to continue to work together and do the right thing.
July 19 has been dubbed ‘Freedom Day’, however it is important to remember that we are still seeing a significant number of new cases every day and we need to continue to be cautious.
This next phase of the Government’s response to the pandemic relies on a wall of immunity being built to protect the population, primarily through vaccinations.
There is still the risk that people who have not been vaccinated become ill and it remains essential that everybody comes forward for both doses of a vaccine. We know vaccines protect most of us from serious illness and help to reduce infections, and their effectiveness increases as more people are administered with jabs. Thousands of appointments are available through www.nhs.uk or at walk-in vaccination centres throughout the region so if you haven’t already, please make sure you get both doses.
We must also be cautious in how we make the most of the relaxed restrictions. A slow and steady approach is the safest option.
Wearing face coverings in busy indoor areas and on public transport will still help to protect you and those around you even though they’re no longer legally required. Continuing to maintain good hand hygiene will also help to reduce infections, as will carrying on with taking regular Lateral Flow Device tests to make sure you aren’t spreading the virus without realising. Allowing fresh air to circulate indoors while spending time with others and limiting the number of people you come into contact will also continue to be effective ways of helping to reduce transmission of the virus.
Not everything is changing, however. When you have symptoms or test positive, you must continue to self-isolate, and book a PCR test when your symptoms begin. It will be vital that we carry out this responsibility to limit the increase in infections we can expect to see after July 19.
The restrictions we have become accustomed to are about to be lifted, but we are not heading back to life as we knew it. We will need to continue to work together to carry on saving lives and protecting our communities.
Cllr Amanda Hopgood, Leader, Durham County Council
Cllr Martin Gannon, Leader, Gateshead Council
Cllr Nick Forbes CBE, Leader, Newcastle City Council
Norma Redfearn CBE, Elected Mayor, North Tyneside Council
Cllr Glen Sanderson, Leader, Northumberland County Council
Cllr Tracey Dixon, Leader, South Tyneside Council
Cllr Graeme Miller, Leader, Sunderland City Council
Jamie Driscoll, North of Tyne Mayor
Kim McGuinness, Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner