29 June 2020

Social distancing should not be forgotten say West Yorkshire organisations

Following the Prime Minister’s latest announcement on the relaxation of lockdown restrictions, West Yorkshire Prepared, together with notable health organisations, is once again calling on people in the region to be vigilant in their response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

West Yorkshire Prepared, the region’s Local Resilience Forum, along with Public Health England and West Yorkshire and Harrogate Healthcare Partnership, is reminding everyone of their responsibility to understand how the changes affect them and their families and ensure they know what to do to keep safe and reduce the risk of COVID-19.

Until 4 July, existing restrictions remain in place. After this, lockdown relaxations include the managed reopening of pubs, cafes and restaurants, hotels and B&Bs, cinemas, visitor attractions and hairdressers if they can do so safely. Other public places such as libraries, places of worship and outdoor playgrounds will also be able to open and people will be able to meet in groups of up to two households in any location, indoors or outdoors, providing social distancing remains in place; and people can stay overnight away from home with their own household, or with one other household, providing social distancing is in place.

Robin Tuddenham, Chief Executive of Calderdale Council and co-chair of West Yorkshire Prepared, said: “While this will be welcome news to many in West Yorkshire, as people are wanting to get back to some kind of normal, it is vitally important everyone remembers the COVID-19 virus is still with us and we cannot simply go back to life as it was before. It is incredibly important people continue to follow the two metre social distancing rule where possible.”

The ‘one metre plus’ rule has not replaced the two metre rule, it is just for occasions where social distancing at two metres is not possible. Where it isn’t possible, robust mitigation measures need to be in place, such as wearing a face covering, installing screens where possible, making sure people sit/stand side by side or behind other people rather than facing them, and providing extra handwashing facilities.

Robin added: “People will see a lot of changes in the way businesses are run, and workplaces will have to meet the new COVID-19 Secure guidelines before opening, which aim to keep everyone – workers and customers – as safe as possible.”

Although distance is a key factor in reducing the risk of catching the virus, it isn’t the only thing that matters:

  • Duration – the longer you are close to an infectious person, the higher the risk.
  • Fresh air – the risk is lower if you are outdoors, or in a well-ventilated area
  • Direction – the risk is lower if you are not face-to-face with an infectious person

Tim Kingsman, Assistant Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police and co-Chair of West Yorkshire Prepared, said: “Throughout the lockdown period, we have continued to engage with the public and explain our approach, which has been received across our communities with significant support. As we head into the next phase, we will again be relying on this relationship to ensure the safety of businesses and shoppers, particularly in our major cities.

“We have been working closely with our partners and across the commercial sector to ensure that as things change, this is achieved in the safest way possible. With this in mind, we will be deploying the level of patrols to match the increased numbers of people out and about, but this will essentially amount to business as usual.

“If issues arise, we have the necessary resources in place to manage and respond to any eventuality.”

Rob Webster, CEO Lead for West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership said: “People should continue to stay two metres away from others where possible. This is what we are advising our health and care workforce. The virus has not changed – it is still infectious, still circulating and still killing people. By maintaining two metres we can all help to ensure we avoid a second spike of the virus, which nobody wants to experience. The public response to the two metre rule has been overwhelming and it is down to their vigilance we are seeing some welcome relaxation of other aspects of the lock down.”

People may also be asked to provide their contact details to venues. This will allow the NHS Test and Trace programme to contact them if they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus.

Close contact means:

  • Having face-to-face contact with someone less than one metre away
  • Spending more than 15 minutes within two metres of someone
  • Travelling in a car or other small vehicle with someone (even on a short journey) or sitting close to them on a plane

Dave Walton, Deputy Chief Fire Officer and co-Chair of West Yorkshire Prepared, said: “Due to the hot weather we’ve experienced recently, we have seen astonishing scenes of huge crowds of people visiting beaches, parks and other open spaces again. Although some lockdown measures are due to be relaxed from 4 July, it is still vital for people to be responsible and maintain the basic measures of social distancing and handwashing if we are to avoid a second wave of the virus.”

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.