11 June 2020

Region’s local resilience forum urges West Yorkshire communities to act to avoid second wave

Ahead of further relaxation of the lockdown, West Yorkshire Prepared, the region’s Local Resilience Forum, is warning people to remain vigilant to prevent a second peak in the Covid-19 pandemic.

Next Monday (15 June) will see some non-essential shops reopen, along with places of worship opening for individual prayer, in line with Government recommendations. This, alongside other lockdown rules being relaxed recently – allowing people to travel further afield and enabling larger groups of people to meet outdoors – has led to concerning instances of people lowering their guard and forgetting to follow the basic social distancing guidance.

Robin Tuddenham, co-chair of West Yorkshire Prepared and Chief Executive of Calderdale Council, said: “Though some restrictions have been lifted, enabling more people to get out and about and meet up with friends and family, it is vital to remember the Covid-19 virus is still very much with us. We must continue to take precautions to keep ourselves and others safe and protected.”

A recent article from the Association of Directors of Public Health (ADPH)[i] stated the need to balance the risk of easing restrictions against the risk of a second wave, reminding everyone that we are at a critical moment in the pandemic and need to be extremely careful our actions now do not cause another spike in infections.

Robin added: “We understand the desire for many to get back to some kind of normal, and we know there is a need to be mindful of the potential lasting negative effects of a continued lockdown, but if people ignore the basics of handwashing, social distancing and isolating if symptomatic, we could very well be facing a second wave of infections.”

There has also been an increase recently in the number of incidents requiring the emergency services. The number of fires on moorland and in public spaces has risen due to people taking BBQs and camping stoves to beauty spots on days out. And there have been a number of water safety incidents around lakes, reservoirs and rivers; some leading to hospitilisation and others, sadly, ending in fatality.

Dave Walton, Deputy Chief Fire Officer for West Yorkshire Fire and Rsecue Services and co-Chair of West Yorkshire Prepared, said: “The resources of the police, fire and ambulance services are already stretched due to responding to the needs of the current pandemic. So we are asking people to please exercise constraint, use common sense and show respect to others when out and about. Don’t waste the hard times we’ve all come through.”

Other issues are emerging as well – increased traffic and speeding vehicles at a time when more pedestrians and cyclists are sharing the roads, inconsiderate parking in high visitor areas causing obstructions for other road users and hindering the emergency services progress, increased littering and the use of public spaces as toilets because public facilities are not yet open.

West Yorkshire Prepared and partner organisations are using relevant regional information and data, where available, to make decisions and implement planning at a local level to ensure there are safe workspaces, safe transport networks, safe public spaces and safe communities. For example, in the consideration of reopening schools in the region, how public spaces can be made safer through the widening of pavements and pedstrianising some roads, and looking at longer term solutions for public transport networks.

Assistant Chief Constable Tim Kingsman, of West Yorkshire Police and co-chair of West Yorkshire Prepared, said: “While lockdown restrictions have been eased, it is important to remember the risk hasn’t gone away and people should still follow the restrictions in place. The more people you have contact with, the greater the risk of infection. Gatherings of more than six people are still not allowed, aside from specific exemptions, and we urge everyone to also continue to follow the social distancing rule.

“I’d like to say thank you from West Yorkshire Police and on behalf of health and the wider care sector, for the high level of compliance we have seen so far across the county. I hope that continues, as it will mean that enforcement, which has always been a last resort for us, remains at a minimum.”

To keep up to date with West Yorkshire Prepared, please visit westyorkshireprepared.test/latest-news or follow us on Facebook (@WYPrepared) or Twitter (@WYRForum).

For reliable, up to date information on Covid-19, please visit www.gov.uk/coronavirus or www.nhs.uk/coronavirus.

[i] ADPH article – www.adph.org.uk/2020/05/adph-presidential-blog-a-time-for-steady-leadership-careful-preparation-and-measured-steps/