'Don't hug too soon or Lancashire lockdown could return'

Lancashire residents are being warned that if they relax too much as the county continues on the government’s roadmap of lockdown, it could result in local restrictions being reimposed.

Monday, 22nd March 2021, 10:05 pm
Updated Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 1:06 pm

The four-stage lockdown-lifting plan began earlier this month with the reopening of schools. Depending on virus data nearer the time, non-essential retail could restart on 12th April - when hospitality venues could also be allowed to serve customers outside.

From no earlier than 17th May, it is hoped indoor hospitality can resume, along with indoor mixing between six people or two households.

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Angie Ridgwell, chair of Lancashire Resilience Forum

The government’s ultimate ambition is for all legal limits on social contact to be lifted from 21st June.

However, Lancashire Resilience Forum chair Angie Ridgwell told a press briefing to mark the anniversary of the first lockdown that residents should not get carried away at any one of the milestone stages.

“It is not a licence for people to go out and start hugging and getting really close to their friends. Even when we are able to socialise, we have to socialise at a distance, we have to continue to wear our masks and have that basic [level of] hygiene.

“In all of our conversations with government, they have reiterated that there is a desire to continue to operate as we go forward on a national level.

But [they] are not categorically ruling out moving to regional or other changes [to the roadmap],” said Ms. Ridgwell, who thanked frontline key workers for all they had done over the last yearm paid tribute to the public at large and said the county must not "squander" its efforts.

Preston and parts of East Lancashire had local restrictions imposed on them last summer, after the national lockdown had lifted, because of concern about high infection rates. The entire county fell under “tier 3” restrictions in late October.

Lancashire County Council’s director of public health said any “super-spreader” events in the county in the coming months raised the risk of a similar spectre.

“It is clear that the epidemic has shifted to people in the working age groups who are largely not vaccinated yet, where we have seen high numbers of cases, said Dr. Sakthi Karunanithi.

“So, yes, we have saved our NHS and we have saved a lot of lives - but now we need to save ourselves from a resurgence of this virus. Vaccines will do all the heavy lifting, but until vaccine gets to all of us, we really need to follow the hands, face and space guidance,

“We’re not home and dry yet.”

On a visit to Lancashire on Monday, Boris Johnson said people would have to “wait for the next few steps of the roadmap” to learn if they can take a foreign holiday this year.

“We’ll set out as much as we can in due course,“ the PM said.

The earliest date non-essential travel abroad will be permitted under the roadmap is 17th May.