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Lockdown restrictions ease today but caution urged

Staffordshire residents are being urged to enjoy the easing of Coronavirus restrictions but to keep following safety guidelines. Dr Richard Harling, Staffordshire County Council’s Director of Health and Care, was speaking as Government restrictions imposed to restrict the spread of infection were eased today (29th March). Richard said: “Today is a step in the right direction and it’s good that people will feel encouraged that we have something to look forward to. “People have worked so hard to get to this point and we must hold on to the gains we have made. We cannot afford to let our guard down and stop taking precautions. “The vaccination programme has been a tremendous success, but it will be months before everyone is vaccinated and even longer before the full benefits are known. “That’s why we must continue to stick to the rules, continue to be tested twice a week and get vaccinated when we become eligible. “A surge in cases will risk delays on the release of restrictions, or even worse, a return to full lockdown.” With effect from today:

  • people can meet outside, either with one other household or within the ‘rule of six’ – including within private gardens;

  • the ‘stay at home’ rule is lifted, though people are still encouraged to stay local;

  • outdoor sport facilities can open and formally organised outdoor sports played;

  • Weddings can take place, attended by up to six people.

Already, schools and colleges have reopened and university students are able to return to campus to attend practical courses; two people from different households can meet outdoors, including for coffee; and care home residents can have one nominated visitor, subject to conditions. The next step on the Government’s proposed timetable for easing restrictions is no earlier than 12th April, when shops, including hairdressers, barbers and beauty salons, would be able to reopen; restaurants and pubs could serve outdoors; weddings could have more guests; and gyms, spas, libraries, community centres and theme parks would be able to accept visitors. Richard added: “We all want to get as back to normal as much as we can, but the proposed next step in April will not happen automatically, it’s up to us all to carry on being careful, follow the ‘hands, face, space’ guidance and get tested regularly. “That is the way to keep the virus under control and gives us the best chance of getting our freedoms back.”

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