Derbyshire health chief's warning on new Covid variants as lockdown restrictions ease today
Derbyshire’s director of public health has issued an important message as the county begins to emerge from national lockdown restrictions.
Dean Wallace, who is leading Derbyshire’s response to the outbreak, is urging people not to be complacent and not to ‘undo all the hard work’ of the past three months.
From today (Monday, March 29), the first step on the government’s roadmap out of Covid-19 will see up to six people, or two households, able to meet outside or in private gardens with social distancing.
Outdoor sports facilities, including golf courses, tennis and basketball courts can reopen and people can take part in formally organised outdoor sport.
Mr Wallace said: “Although numbers of infections are going down across the country, with the new more transmissible variant we know it doesn’t take much to start an outbreak, and with many parts of Europe experiencing another wave we really cannot be too careful.
“With the vaccination roll-out, rates dropping and the warmer weather coming, we are heading into better days.
"But as the vaccination programme has not started to reach the age groups that are most likely to spread the virus it is really important we remain vigilant and follow the rules and guidance. Otherwise, the risk of new variants increases which would put everyone’s hard work at risk.
“As more parts of the economy and society in general begin to open up it will become increasingly important to follow the messages we all know – hands, face, space - and isolate if you have symptoms, to keep the rates low."
As restrictions ease, residents are reminded that they should stay local and minimise journeys. People who are able to work from home should continue to do so.
Mr Wallace added: “As people start to move around more, this increases the chance of the virus coming into communities. No community is an unconnected island and the picture can change quickly.
“The other point to bear in mind is that we still haven’t seen the full impact of the schools returning on infection rates so we need to stay cautious.
“My message to everyone is keep going, we’re nearly there but not yet. We mustn’t undo all the hard work we’ve all done to get to this point.”