Keep wearing facemasks, North East leaders urge

North East health bosses have urged commuters and shoppers to continue wearing masks after Government restrictions lift, saying that coronavirus infections will continue to rise.

Wednesday, 7th July 2021, 10:28 am
Updated Friday, 16th July 2021, 12:58 pm
Although face masks will no longer be compulsory after July 19, North East leaders are urging people to keep wearing them. Picture by Getty Images
Although face masks will no longer be compulsory after July 19, North East leaders are urging people to keep wearing them. Picture by Getty Images

On Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that most of England’s coronavirus restrictions would be coming to an end from July 19.

This means that facemasks will no longer be required as 16 months of on-off restrictions on daily life draw to a close.

The rule of six in private homes will also be scrapped with the relaxations being confirmed on July 12 after a review of the latest data.

On Tuesday a joint statement was released by Directors of Public health representing the Local Authority 7 councils of Newcastle, Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Gateshead, Sunderland and Durham.

The directors say that “we will all have to learn to live with the virus, but we still have a duty to do so responsibly”.

And they warn that if restrictions ease as planned on July 19, the region can expect infection rates to increase as has been seen at previous steps of the roadmap out of lockdown.

They said: “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. “

Latest figures from the Press Association reveal that as of the seven days ending July 1 Newcastle had 2,156 new cases, or 712 per 100,000 people .

In South Tyneside 1,041 new cases, or 689.5 per 100,000, were reported in the same time frame.

Meanwhile, Gateshead had 1,272 new cases, or 629.5 per 100,000. Sunderland had 1,683 new cases – a rate of 606 and North Tyneside reported 1,219 new cases – a rate of 586.3.

The data shows that County Durham has 3,103 new cases or 584.4 per 100,000. Finally, Northumberland has 1,151 new cases or 357 per 100,000.

The statement said urged people to be considerate of people who are vulnerable or anxious when deciding whether to wear a face covering or social distance.

It advised people to carry on social distancing and wearing face masks when out shopping or using public transport.

It continued: “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. “

The health bosses said that despite cases rising the region was “reaping the early benefits of the remarkable vaccination roll-out” and urged residents to come forward for their jab.

They said: “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.”

The missive also said that testing “will continue to be important” as the country moves forward with a more relaxed regime and people should continue to use lateral flow tests twice a week.

Anyone with Covid-19 symptoms, they say, should self isolate immediately and book a PCR test.

They added: “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 roll-out 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.”