D&S column: as Covid-19 recedes Enjoy Summer Safely

There was more welcome evidence this week that thanks to our combined efforts the incidence of coronavirus in our area continues to come down.

In a North Yorkshire MPs’ briefing this week, I was informed that Covid-19 infection rates and hospital admissions continue to fall.

Of course, there is absolutely no room for complacency. We have to stay alert to the threat of a second wave and key to that is acting quickly to control any localised outbreaks.

I was really reassured to hear that a robust plan is in place to do just that in North Yorkshire and has been tested.

The county’s Covid-19 Outbreak Control Plan details how local knowledge, experience and expertise will be used to tackle outbreaks and manage the virus over time.

Led by North Yorkshire County Council’s Director of Public Health, the plan will see our public health experts work with the public, businesses, the NHS, Public Health England, local government partners and the community and voluntary sector.

Working together they will support individuals, communities, businesses, education and care home settings to understand how to prevent outbreaks via good hygiene and social distancing measures. Most importantly, the plan sets out how the county will respond if outbreaks occur and the measures needed to control them.

The plan has already been tested through the successful tackling of two very localised outbreaks centred on meat processing plants in the Ryedale and Selby areas. The experience has proved invaluable in drawing up the plan.

The onus is very much on all of us to continue the really magnificent efforts of the last four months to control the virus and, should an outbreak occur in our area, to work with our local officials to limit the impact.

The sectors of the local economy that were hardest hit at the height of the pandemic – non-essential shops, pubs, restaurants and tourism businesses – are doing tremendous work in re-opening safely

I have been really gratified and re-assured by what I have seen and heard from across our area and the measures being put in place to ensure staff and customers can be as safe as possible.

From big stores like Barkers in Northallerton to smaller specialist shops like Nickery Nook in Bedale and the Mocha chocolate shop in Richmond, many have adapted their premises and the way they serve their customers to ensure people feel confident.

On my recent visits to local town centres it was good to see that confidence returning.

And I am doing everything I can to encourage everyone to return to the places that they love to visit – to shop, to have a quiet drink and to eat.

The response to my Eat Out to Help Out initiative has been great. Within hours of the announcement last week I had many local pubs and restaurants in touch asking how to register.

All the details about how to register are on the Government website and I urge business owners to take up a scheme designed to bring them more customers as they open up again.

I do, however, understand people’s caution about going out.

But we wouldn’t have lifted the restrictions if we didn’t think we could do so safely.

And if we follow the guidance, and respect what these businesses ask us to do, we can all enjoy summer safely.