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No time for complacency, North Yorkshire’s leaders warn

todayNovember 27, 2020 1

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North Yorkshire’s leaders have issued a big thank you today to all of the county’s communities that have worked so hard to bring the Covid-19 rate of infection down below the England average.

As a result of concerted efforts across North Yorkshire and the impact of the lockdown, the county’s rate of infection is now under 200 per 100,000 – low enough to place the county into tier 2 of the Government’s Covid-19 restrictions, announced today.  North Yorkshire is the only region in Yorkshire not to be in tier 3.

However, leaders also warned there was no room for complacency as the county enters a dangerous phase with the end of lockdown.

Richard Flinton, chair of the North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum, said: “To each and every one of you who has played their part to get the rates down I am grateful; please keep going because there really is light at the end of the tunnel now. If we can keep that downward trend, we will all get back to as close to normality as possible sooner.

“The Government has said today that it will review the tiers fortnightly, so if we keep on pulling together to follow the restrictions there is always the chance we can go into the lowest tier 1.”

Dr Lincoln Sargeant, North Yorkshire’s Director of Public Health, said: “We must not forget that just a couple of months ago a rate of 20 per 100,000 was enough to put Scarborough and Selby on the watch list, because this virus spreads at speed, so we cannot afford to lower our guard.  People’s lives depend on our individual efforts as well as the health of our economy and the survival of our businesses. We cannot afford to forget that.

“We simply cannot afford to stay in tier 2 because this reflects that people are dying and means businesses are suffering.

“We now have 340 people with Covid in hospitals serving North Yorkshire and York, higher than at the peak of the first wave in April. Last week over 20 people died of Covid and three people have died in the last day alone.  We still have 54 Covid outbreaks in care homes across York and North Yorkshire.

“So I am asking all of you to abide by the restrictions we will be placed under following the end of lockdown next week and above all refrain from household mixing – the single most significant factor in the spread of Covid.  This is where the virus can do its most damage and spread quickly between friends and family.

“And, of course, we urge people to carry on with the essential Covid safety measures of washing hands regularly, wearing face masks in public venues and outdoors in crowded spaces and keeping a social distance of two metres wherever possible.

“There will always be people who think the rules do not apply to them and our police colleagues will continue to maintain a high visibility, carrying out enforcement as well as encouragement of people to stick to the rules – particularly in areas with the highest transmission rates,” said Superintendent Mike Walker, gold commander for North Yorkshire Police’s response to Covid-19.

“North Yorkshire is one of the highest issuing forces of fixed penalty notices for breaches of the restrictions and the police will continue policing communities proportionately.

“Of the 72 fines issued last week, more than two thirds were handed out along the coast – the area with the highest rates. These were for a mix of indoor and outdoor gatherings.  Such behaviour must not be allowed to undermine the sterling efforts of the vast majority of residents who have helped to drive the rate down.”

Support is also available now to families struggling to cope in the current environment across North Yorkshire.

Richard Flinton said: “This week we announced a £1.4m scheme to provide food and other help to families as part of a range of funding to help those hardest hit by the pandemic. As we head into winter, we have put together an additional raft of measures to support families and vulnerable groups. This includes an extensive food voucher scheme to ensure that children eligible for free school meals will continue to have access to meals over the Christmas holidays and into the New Year.

“In addition, we chose to broaden the scheme to also include children in early years provision and post-16 education. So, North Yorkshire’s families who are most in need will receive £20 worth of supermarket vouchers per child, per week.

“And as always our many volunteers across the county who are a vital part of Team North Yorkshire continue to play a vital role working with 23 Community Support Organisations to help people who are isolated and lonely.

“Since March, the county council has worked with the county’s seven district and borough councils and the CSOs to provide a single point of contact within the community, pulling together other organisations to provide a safety net of support, which has been there for people during the November lockdown and will carry on. More than 1,500 volunteers have been helping thousands of people every week with almost 23,000 bags of shopping, more than 22,000 hot meals and 13,000 prescriptions delivered since April.

“In addition, they have been calling people every week to check on their general health and wellbeing as well as providing other support. More than 14,000 welfare calls and 17,000 befriending calls have been made since the start of the pandemic. Between them, community support organisation volunteers have clocked up more than 65,000 volunteering hours.

“People who need support with shopping, prescriptions, caring for pets and other essentials are encouraged to contact family, friends, neighbours or groups to which they belong. North Yorkshire residents without those local networks, or anyone concerned about the welfare of someone else, can contact the county council’s customer service centre on 01609 780780. The centre is open seven days a week, 8am to 5.30pm.

“And lastly, please be assured our multiagency response is strong and focussed and plans are now being put in place to facilitate vaccine to support the NHS as and when needed and we are looking at plans for targeted and community testing.

“We have also expanded our testing facilities.  North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum has worked with the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) to secure more locations for walk-in testing sites, which are operated on behalf of the DHSC by Serco and Sodexo.

“New sites will open in Northallerton and Selby this weekend, to be followed shortly by another in Skipton. These join existing sites in Harrogate and Scarborough and supplement the mobile testing units that are regularly deployed around the county.”

A list of the restrictions for tier 2 can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/local-restriction-tiers-what-you-need-to-know

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