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Director of Public Health says personal responsibility will be key to living with COVID, following Government announcement

Date Published: 23 February 2022
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Rutland’s Director of Public Health says that people’s individual choices and actions will be key to managing COVID-19 in the long-term, following the publication of new government plans that explain how people in England will be expected to live with the virus going forward.

The government’s plan for removing the remaining legal restrictions in place around COVID-19 while still protecting the most vulnerable in society were published yesterday (Monday 21 February) and can be read in full on the national GOV.UK website. This includes an end to the current legal requirement to self-isolate if you test positive for COVID-19 (effective from 24 February 2022) and plans to end free universal COVID testing for the general public in England (effective from 1 April 2022).

Responding to the announcement, Rutland’s Director of Public Health, Mike Sandys, has repeated calls for residents to take care and stressed that this does not mean an end to coronavirus:

“This is a huge step in terms of our national response to COVID-19 and an indication of just how far we’ve come since the virus first emerged. People have got used to following COVID restrictions and sticking to the legal requirements that have been in place at various stages throughout the pandemic.

“Phasing out the last of these restrictions will be welcome by many but will also take some getting used to. It absolutely does not mean that COVID-19 has now gone away. It simply reflects the current risk levels associated with the virus following the hugely successful rollout and take-up of the coronavirus vaccine.

“Vaccinations remain critical in the continuing fight against COVID. Rutland’s vaccination rates are positive and there have been recent announcements about extending the vaccination programme further to include a non-urgent offer of COVID-19 vaccines to all children aged 5 to 11 in England, plus an additional spring booster jab for those who are particularly vulnerable to the virus.

“Just as important as the COVID vaccine is the role that individual choice and personal responsibility will play in keeping COVID rates as low as possible in the county. You can still choose to do many of the things that have kept us safe during recent months, such as meeting outdoors, letting fresh air into indoor meeting spaces, washing your hands regularly and minimising close contact with others.

“After Thursday 24 February – when self-isolation rules change – I hope that people will still be mindful of COVID symptoms and think carefully before socialising with others, just as you might if you had a bad cold or the flu. I would also remind everyone that free rapid COVID tests will still be available until April, so please continue to take regular tests as restrictions are eased.”

Mike Sandys added: “We have come a long way in our struggle to overcome what we all hope will turn out to be the worst of COVID-19. The way that we each choose to act in the absence of legal restrictions and the extent to which we think about the risks to others will be key during this next phase of the pandemic.”

For more information about changes to national COVID restrictions in England and further advice on staying safe from the virus, please visit: www.gov.uk/coronavirus

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