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We all have a part to play in keeping our county and ourselves safe

Date Published: 16 July 2021

Mike Sandys, Director of Public Health for Rutland:

Next week, we all take the next step on the roadmap out of lockdown in England, with most legal restrictions in place to control COVID-19 removed on Monday 19 July.

Step four comes at a time when cases are still rising, here and across other parts of the UK. We all have a part to play in making this next step work and keeping our communities safe. I urge everyone to keep on taking care and to remain cautious even as restrictions and legal limits on social contact have been lifted.

Thankfully, communities across our county have shown incredible determination and resolve throughout the pandemic, to support one another through previous waves, and we have every confidence in all our residents, organisations and businesses to continue to work together and do the right thing.

Although 19 July has been described as ‘Freedom Day’, it is important to remember that we are still seeing a significant number of new cases every day and we need to continue to be cautious.

This next phase of the government’s response relies on the success of the vaccination programme greatly reducing risk of serious illness or death. However, people should continue to act to reduce the risk of transmission and follow the recommended safety measures.

Face coverings will still help to protect you and those around you even though they’re no longer legally required. Wear a face covering wherever you come into contact with people you don’t normally meet, or in enclosed and crowded spaces, in busy indoor areas and on public transport.

Continuing to maintain good hand hygiene will also help to reduce infections. Wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitiser regularly throughout the day. Cover your nose and mouth when you cough and sneeze.

Carry on with taking routine, regular Lateral Flow Device tests, also known as rapid asymptomatic testing.  Around one in three people with COVID-19 do not have symptoms but can still infect others without knowing it. You should do a rapid test twice a week (every three to four days) to check if you have the virus. If people test positive and self-isolate, it helps stop the virus spreading. Even if you are vaccinated, there’s still a chance you can pass COVID-19 on, so you should keep testing regularly.

There are plenty of places locally where you can collect self-test kits 
more information at www.rutland.gov.uk/lfdtesting. You can also order online at 
www.gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests or by phoning 111.

Meet in well-ventilated areas where possible, such as outdoors or indoors with windows open. Allowing fresh air to circulate indoors while spending time with others, and limiting the number of people you come into contact with, will continue to be effective ways of helping to reduce transmission of the virus.

There is still the risk that people who have not been vaccinated become ill and it remains essential that everybody comes forward for both doses of a vaccine. We know vaccines protect most of us from serious illness and help to reduce infections, and their effectiveness increases as more people are administered with jabs. Thousands of appointments are available through www.nhs.uk or at walk-in vaccination centres throughout Rutland and the wider East Midlands region. So if you haven’t already, please make sure you get both doses.

Not everything is changing. You must still stay at home if you feel unwell, to reduce the risk of passing illnesses onto friends, family, colleagues, and others in your community. When you have symptoms or test positive, you must continue to self-isolate, and book a PCR test when your symptoms begin. Support is available locally to help you do this.

It will be vital that we continue to carry out these safeguards in a responsible way, with regard for ourselves and others, and to limit the increase in infections we can expect to see in the coming weeks and months.

The restrictions we have become accustomed to may have been lifted, but we are not heading back to life as we knew it. We will need to continue to work together to carry on saving lives and protecting our communities.

Details of the most recent changes and how we should all use personal judgement to manage the risks that remain can be found at: www.gov.uk/coronavirus.

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