Preston, Chorley and South Ribble residents warned to be Covid cautious over Easter
Lancashire’s director of public health is urging residents to remain cautious over the Easter break, as the county prepares for its first weekend under the recently-relaxed rules on mixing outdoors.
The rule of six returned for open-air settings on Monday, meaning that up to six people from any number of households can meet up outside. A group of any size from a maximum of two households can also gather outdoors.
Under government guidance, anybody taking advantage of the new regulations should remain two meters apart from those they meet who are not part of their own household.
Dr. Sakthi Karunanithi said that there is reason for hope as Covid case rates continue to fall in the county. The Lancashire-wide rate stood at 68 confirmed infections per 100,000 people in the week to 26th March - the lowest it has been since mid-September.
However, Preston, Chorley and South Ribble all saw rises at various points during March, amidst a generally falling trend.
Preston currently has the second-highest rate in the county, recently rising back above the 100 mark to 105 cases per 100,000 people over the seven days to 26th March. Chorley and South Ribble recorded rates of 67 and 64 respectively over the same period.
The county’s public health boss warned that while “staying at home is over...staying safe from Covid-19 certainly isn't”.
"Lancashire has been under restrictions for a long time, so it's pleasing to see those now starting to lift, alongside falling case rates and the rate of vaccination.
"We want people to safely enjoy the outdoors over the Easter period and beyond, but they must stay cautious and continue to follow the rules.
"And if you do plan on visiting someone, please stick to the rule of six and outdoors. Don't mix indoors until it is deemed safe to do so.
"By and large, the people of Lancashire have stuck to the rules, and that is reflected in our falling case rates.
"As we gradually open up our county, it is also really important that people continue to get tested regularly,” Dr. Karunanithi appealed.
He stressed the importance of anybody who tests positive self-isolating immediately, along with members of their household.
Residents were also reassured that positive results generated by rapid-turnaround lateral flow tests should be confirmed by a lab-based PCR test within two days, “mitigating against the risk of false positives [and] making it highly unlikely that anyone would need to self-isolate unnecessarily”.
"As we look to the future, there is much to feel hopeful about. But we must remember that we're not completely out of the woods yet.
"By following the rules of the day, getting tested regularly and coming forward for your vaccination when offered, you will be playing your part in protecting Lancashire and its wonderful people."
Indoor mixing between different households will not be allowed until 17th May at the earliest.
Other rule changes that came into force at the start of the week have seen outdoor sports venues reopen, with groups of any size permitted to take part in formally-organised outdoor sporting activities.