20 March 2021

West Yorkshire ‘Major incident’: one year on

Today (20 March) marks one year since a ‘Major Incident’ was declared in West Yorkshire in response to the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic, three days ahead of the first lockdown being implemented across the country. As the country looks to lift restrictions to ease out of the third lockdown, the region’s Local Resilience Forum (LRF) looks back on an extraordinary year and considers ‘what next?’

Major Incidents, which are usually declared for floods, major fires or similar emergencies, normally last for a day or two due to the intense level of effort required by the numerous agencies involved. For a Major Incident to last a whole year is unprecedented but reflects the seriousness of the situation, and also highlights the unrelenting commitment and dedication West Yorkshire organisations and communities have shown over the last 12 months.

Robin Tuddenham, co-Chair of West Yorkshire Prepared and Chief Executive of Calderdale Council, said: “Although we now have a roadmap out of lockdown, as outlined by the Government, this unfortunately doesn’t mean the end of the pandemic. As it currently stands, there is no clear date of when we will be able to ‘stand down’ from this Major Incident. While the number of people being admitted to hospitals with Covid-19 is the lowest since before Christmas, infection rates still remain high in West Yorkshire compared with the rest of the country, though they are falling steadily.

“Let’s do all we can to work together to reduce risk, keep safe and protect each other from harm. We have come a long way, and can begin to rebuild but need to be patient and mindful that we are not through this yet.”

During the past year, LRF partners have also prepared for and responded to a number of concurrent major incidents, including the EU Exit, flooding, a major fire and severe weather events. Responding to these incidents involves a wide number of organisations working together, alongside communities and businesses, to deliver a safe and coordinated response for West Yorkshire.

West Yorkshire Prepared, the region’s LRF, wants to take this opportunity to thank every person, community, business and agency for their hard work and ongoing efforts over the last year. By working together, everyone has helped to reduce the spread of infection, engaged in a successful vaccination programme and enabled our communities to stay as safe as possible.

Dave Walton, co-Chair of West Yorkshire Prepared and Deputy Chief Fire Officer of West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We should all be extremely proud of what we have achieved together so far, for as bad as this has been for us all, it could have been far, far worse. However, our over-riding message to everyone in West Yorkshire is this isn’t over yet. While we can definitely see light at the end of the tunnel, we need everyone to keep playing their part by continuing to follow the guidance.”

On 29 March, people will once again be able to meet up with another household, or up to six people, outdoors. With this in mind, and with the approach of the Easter holidays, West Yorkshire Prepared is asking people in the region to continue to be mindful when out and about, avoid crowded areas and continue to follow social distancing rules.

As restrictions are eased, West Yorkshire Police will continue to adopt the approach of Encourage, Explain and Engage, and will Enforce where people are flagrantly and blatantly breaking the rules.

Tyron Joyce, co-Chair of West Yorkshire Prepared and Assistant Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police, said: “I want to thank the vast majority of the public who have sought to apply and live within the various restrictions over the last 12 months. We all hope these restrictions will ease soon but, until that time, we would ask for your patience and support to keep the risk of infection as low as we possibly can.”

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

To keep up to date with West Yorkshire Prepared, please visit www.westyorkshireprepared.org.uk or follow us on Facebook (@WYPrepared) or Twitter (@WYRForum).