North East council bosses urge public to take care as 'Freedom Day' approaches

North East council bosses are urging the public to take care as ‘Freedom Day’ approaches.

Tuesday, 13th July 2021, 8:24 pm

The Government has confirmed it will push ahead with the lifting of coronavirus restrictions from Monday, July 19.

But with the North East seeing a steep rise in the number of cases, the region’s local authorities are emphasising the role the public has to play in keeping the virus under control.

A statement from the LA7 group – which includes the leaders of Sunderland, Durham, South Tyneside, Northumberland, Newcastle and Gateshead, as well as the North Tyneside and North of Tyne Mayors and Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness – is calling on people not to forget what needs to be done.

The legal requirements on wearing facemasks will end on Monday

“We all have a part to play in making this work and keeping our communities safe,” it says.

“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.

The statement urges everyone who can be vaccinated to get the jab: “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.”

And it reminds people about the guidance that remains in place: “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 are 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.”

Anyone who believed they have been exposed to the virus should still behave as before: “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 statement says.

“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.”