This is why masks are no longer recommended in Blackpool's schools
Blackpool is not facing the same situation as some other parts of Lancashire when it comes to the spread of the Indian variant of Covid, the town’s director of public health has revealed.
Arif Rajpura said it was for that reason that he had not followed the rest of the county in advising schools and colleges to continue to require pupils to wear face coverings in classrooms and corridors.
Lancashire County Council and Blackburn with Darwen Council have recommended masks are still used in education settings, but the precaution was dropped across most of England on Monday as part of the latest step on the government's roadmap out of lockdown.
The Lancashire districts of the National Education Union had called for local guidance adopting a "more cautious" approach.
However, Mr. Rajpura said: “The clear advice from national colleagues [is] that you should stick to national guidance unless there is a reason [not] to do that at a local level.
“I think in East Lancs, there is obviously a reason...with the increasing number of cases within those communities. [Blackpool is] not seeing the same pattern as what’s happening over in the east of the county, so we’re sticking to the national approach with the guidance around face coverings."
Mr. Rajpura was speaking at a press conference staged by the Lancashire Resilience Forum on the day indoor mixing was once again permitted for groups of up to six people or two households – and indoor hospitality and entertainment venues reopened for the first time since being forced to shut in January.
Reporters were told that the Indian variant was spreading "exponentially" in parts of Central and East Lancashire
Lancashire County Council's director of public health, Dr. Sakthi Karunanithi, used the event to urge locals to check newly-clarified eligibility criteria for vaccination – and take up the offer of a jab if they fall into one of the listed groups.
He also asked people to "think twice and think local" before reclaiming their freedoms.
“Please plan your mixing really carefully – meeting outdoors is much, much safer than meeting indoors; meeting [fewer] people is much safer than meeting more people; and meeting for short periods of time is much safer than long periods of time. [And], definitely, take your regular testing.
“We know that people are more likely to listen if there is a consultant, clear nationwide message – and I think that is there to the extent that the responsibility is on each and every one of us to assess the risks and take the necessary steps to keep Lancashire safe,” Dr. Karunanithi added.