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Rutland County Council leader, Oliver Hemsley, urges people to stay safe following easing of covid restrictions

We have reached another critical juncture in the ongoing fight against Covid-19, as we work to overcome the virus while returning to some semblance of normal life, writes Rutland County Council leader, Oliver Hemsley. Although we’ve had wall-to-wall coverage of the latest changes to restrictions, explaining what we can and cannot do following ‘Freedom Day’, it’s worth reflecting on just what this means for each of us, as individuals. This is particularly important given the amount of personal choice that’s now involved in determining just how much protection we afford ourselves and those around us.

July 19 brought an end to the vast majority of legal restrictions that had previously been in place to control the spread of Covid-19, mandating in very specific terms how we must behave and interact with others. As I write, the rate of Covid-19 infections in Rutland has risen to 311 cases per 100,000 people. This is a reflection of the national picture and, while cases are high, everyone must take care and remain cautious. The closer we get to returning to normality the more we have to lose.

Many of our local shops and business are politely asking customers to continue wearing face coverings indoors and to keep a safe distance from one another – something the council is requesting people do when they visit our public buildings. These are choices but they are important choices and make a very real difference. It’s therefore important that we respect the wishes of businesses and individuals who want to keep taking every precaution following the rule change.

Coun Oliver Hemsley (47347862)
Coun Oliver Hemsley (47347862)

The Covid-19 vaccine has played a critical role in getting us to this point and remains our single biggest weapon against the virus. Vaccines have been shown to help reduce the risk of getting seriously ill or dying from Covid-19. They also reduce your risk of catching or spreading the virus and protect against covid variants. However, it is still possible to catch and spread Covid-19, even if you are fully vaccinated. This is why the Government’s cautious guidance – echoed by our local public health experts – is so important. We need to continue to employ every means at our disposal to reduce the risk of catching and spreading Covid-19. Please meet in well-ventilated areas and particularly outdoors, if at all possible. Please consider wearing a face covering if you’re coming into contact with people you don’t normally meet in crowded spaces, and please keep washing your hands or use hand sanitiser throughout the day.

One thing that has not changed is the need to get a test if you have covid symptoms and then isolate if you test positive. This remains a hard and fast requirement, and a critical measure to prevent the further spread of covid. Full details of when to get a test and what you must do can be found at: www.nhs.uk/coronavirus.

Rutland has fared comparatively well throughout the pandemic, precisely because of our collective efforts. The choices we make as individuals in the coming weeks will have an influence on our covid rates as we try to move forward.

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