Today, residents of Northamptonshire and across England will take Step 2 on the four-step ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown.
We will see the opening of non-essential retail; personal care premises such as hairdressers and nail salons; and public buildings, including libraries and community centres.
Indoor leisure facilities such as gyms will also reopen (but only for use by people on their own or in household groups); as will most outdoor attractions and settings including outdoor hospitality venues, zoos, theme parks, and drive-in cinemas.
Self-contained accommodation such as campsites and holiday lets, where indoor facilities are not shared with other households, can also reopen.
Hospitality venues will be allowed to serve people outdoors and there will be no need for customers to order a substantial meal with alcoholic drinks and no curfew, although customers must order, eat and drink while seated with ‘table service.’
Wider social contact rules will apply in all these settings to prevent indoor mixing between different households. Restrictions affecting life events will also ease.
While funerals can continue with up to 30 mourners, the number of people able to attend weddings, receptions and commemorative events such as wakes will rise to 15.
Also, the number of visitors to care homes is also increasing from one to two to allow residents to see more of their loved ones.
Many restrictions will however remain in place. People should continue to work from home where they can and minimise the number of journeys they make where possible, avoiding travel at the busiest times and routes. Travel abroad remains limited to a small number of permitted reasons.
Lucy Wightman Joint Director of Public Health - North and West Northamptonshire Councils said: “The further relaxing of measures today is welcome news for many of us and allows us the opportunity to venture out and enjoy some more of the things we have missed so much.
“I know that many establishments across the county did a fantastic job complying with the guidelines last summer - and will again as they re-open. As customers we also need to do our bit! We all must socially distance, wear our masks and wash or sanitise our hands to protect staff, their jobs and businesses, as well as ourselves and those around us.
“The prime minister has asked the country to ‘proceed with caution’ and ‘not be complacent’ with good reason. We know for certain that the easing of restrictions means that coronavirus cases will inevitably rise. However, there are ways to ensure COVID-19 cases do not get out of control again. We need to follow the mantra Hands, Face, Space and Fresh Air as we go about our daily lives and get our first or second dose of the vaccination when called, get tested regularly and isolate immediately if the result is positive. If we get this right, then we can continue to enjoy the freedoms we have missed and look forward to a safer future for all of us.”
In order to remind the residents of Northamptonshire to stay as safe as possible as these relaxations come into place, the Public Health team is continuing to publicise their COVID-19 awareness campaign called, “Take care in the open air. The campaign aims to provide evidence based, scientific guidance to residents, with the aim of helping individuals to take care whilst meeting others outside.
As outlined in the Government’s roadmap to recovery, it is important that social distancing measures remain in place outdoors until the data shows that this can change. Some of the key messages are:
- Maintain two metre social distancing outdoors and avoid face to face close contact especially where shouting or laughing (aerosol droplets are larger and travel further when laughing or shouting)
- COVID-19 can be caught from surfaces such as play equipment, railings, gates and buttons
- Carry hand sanitiser with you when out and about and use contactless payments where possible. Take your face covering with you in case you find you need it
- Please dispose of any old face coverings in a bin. Discarded face masks pose a risk of transmission and add to unwanted litter so please discard of them safely in a bin
- Finally, when meeting in private gardens in particular, avoid sharing items, keep two metres from others, even family who you do not live with, and stay alert if you are consuming alcohol, and keep following the guidance.
These messages continue to appear across social media, bus stops, digital vans and in open spaces over coming weeks. They are there to help residents to keep safe and remain within the guidelines, which will help us progress towards step three on the roadmap, if the data supports on May 17th, 2021.