Return to a pre-pandemic normal 'isn't going to happen any time soon', according to South Tyneside's public health chief
Since the national lockdown came into force in March, new Covid-19 cases and virus-related deaths in the borough have dropped.
In the last two weeks alone there were six new confirmed cases – described by public health bosses as “one of the lowest rates in the country.”
As lockdown measures continue to ease, South Tyneside Council’s Director of Public Health, Tom Hall, has warned the public to follow the latest guidance to prevent future outbreaks.
“With the various easements of lockdown measures, there has been a lot of public commentary about starting to ‘return to normal’.
“I must stress that returning to any pre-pandemic ‘normal’ is not going to happen anytime soon.
“And we must all get used to the behaviours and systems that have become part of our daily lives.”
The comments came during a cabinet meeting which was held remotely and broadcast live on YouTube in line with social distancing guidelines.
In one of his regular updates, the authority’s public health boss said prevention measures were key to slowing the spread of Covid-19.
This includes washing hands frequently and thoroughly, staying or working at home if possible, limiting time in busy public spaces and socially distancing from others.
The public are advised to stay two metres apart, or one metre with mitigation measures such as a face mask, if this is not possible.
If out and about in pubs and restaurants, customers are urged to hand over contact details to help health bosses ‘track and trace’ new cases.
And anyone showing symptoms should also self-isolate with their household and support bubble and get tested.
Public health boss Tom Hall also said it was important to maintain “positive behaviours” as the borough moves forward from Covid-19.
This includes daily exercise, quality family time and people “reconnecting with activities that they love.”
He added: “I have stressed publicly previously that the low rate of new cases is not something that we take for granted.
“We have seen in the news that a number of local authorities across the UK , working with their partners, are handling localised outbreaks in settings such as communities, businesses and care homes.
“We want to avoid that situation here in South Tyneside and with the help of the public, local communities, our key workers and businesses, then we will.”
South Tyneside Council recently published a ‘Covid-19 Outbreak Management Plan’ which sets out measures to prevent and respond to cases.
The plan is overseen by the Covid-19 Leadership Board for the borough which is chaired by South Tyneside Council leader, Cllr Iain Malcolm.
At the cabinet meeting, the council leader thanked council officers for helping to bring shopping centres and districts back to “some sort of normality.”
“I would also thank the public for their understanding as we have had to redesign some of those [spaces] following government guidance,” he said.
“That seems to have gone reasonably well with the support of the shopkeepers and business owners and the public being very understanding.”
For more information on the council’s outbreak management plan, visit: www.southtyneside.gov.uk/article/69951