North Yorkshire can avoid tougher lockdown measures if people cut social contacts, officials warn
North Yorkshire can avoid tougher lockdown measures if people change their behaviour to reduce social contacts, health officials have said.
North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum (NYLRF) has warned the county is at "tipping point" and called on people to take immediate action to avoid the strict measures being imposed on many northern towns and cities.
The body - which is made up of representatives from the police and local authorities - said the Craven and Richmondshire districts were areas of particular concern, but cases were on the rise everywhere.
Richard Flinton, chair of NYLRF, said people in the county must not risk losing everything they have achieved to avoid tougher measures so far by letting their guard down.
He said: "Rather than wait for Government intervention and the imposition of more serious lockdown measures being faced by people in many parts of the north of England, we are appealing to people to take the necessary precautions now."
The figures in Craven show there have been 95 new cases per 100,000 people in the last week.
However, officials have stressed that the area can turn it around if people follow social distancing and good hygiene guidance.
They pointed towards the Selby and Scarborough districts which have seen infection rates slow after being put on the government's watchlist as areas of concern.
Mr Flinton described this as a "great achievement" and thanked the communities for their efforts.
"We have shown we can pull together to beat Covid," he said.
North Yorkshire is now surrounded by many regions facing tougher lockdown measures imposed by the government.
Areas in West Yorkshire, the North East, Lanchashire, Merseyside and Greater Manchester have all been put into local lockdowns which mean people must comply with strict social guidelines and curfews.
It comes after a major incident was declared by NYLRF last month when residents were urged to be on their guard and follow new local measures.
Dr Lincoln Sargeant, the director of public health for North Yorkshire, said vigilance around social distancing, the wearing of masks and hand hygiene "could not be more critical" at this time to protect the region's most vulnerable residents.
He said: “In light of the escalating community infection rates in these areas, and across the region and UK, and the very real threat to some of our residents who are prone to the most severe symptoms if they contract the virus, I am asking everyone to take responsibility.
"We are seeing infections rise in our care settings and we must all protect those most at risk from the more severe medical impacts of Covid-19.
“So please, alongside the hands, face, space guidance - wear a face covering in crowded places outdoors and avoid crowded areas where social distancing is difficult. As the virus is transmitting from person to person the fewer social contacts people have the better.
"By doing this we will help to restrict the progression of Covid and help avoid wider measures which could impact on schools, jobs and local businesses.
"We must all play our part now.”
By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter