The Prime Minister this week detailed plans to remove existing restrictions from Monday (19 July) as part of step 4 of the Government’s road map out of lockdown.
But with Covid-19 cases continuing to increase rapidly in Wolverhampton and elsewhere – and hospitalisations now starting to rise too – the city’s Director of Public Health John Denley is strongly advising people to act with extreme caution.
He said: “While the lifting of restrictions next week may be welcomed by many, others will be concerned that the measures which have been in place for so long to prevent the spread of Covid-19 are being removed.
“We cannot afford to lose sight of the fact that coronavirus cases are rising rapidly in our city, with well over 750 people testing positive in the last week alone.
“The Government has warned that the lifting of restrictions could lead to 100,000 cases per day nationally in the coming weeks and, while thankfully deaths remain low, hospitalisations are rising and we are also starting to see the debilitating effects of ‘long Covid’ on patients.
"With this virus still circulating, it is only right that people continue to use common sense and take extra steps where and when appropriate. We need to do the right thing to protect ourselves and those who are more vulnerable and that means being careful, keeping social contacts low and keeping our distance from one other.
"The easiest way is for us all to carry on practising Hands, Face, Space and Fresh Air; you can help prevent the spread of Covid-19 by washing your hands more regularly, by wearing a face covering in enclosed public places like shops and on buses, trains and trams and by keeping your distance from others. Please try to spend as much time outside, and minimise social contacts as much as you can.
"We've all got used to following these simple steps over the last 16 months and, while by law people you may not need to wear a face covering or practice social distancing from next week, I would strongly advise you to carry on doing so – for the health of yourselves and your fellow citizens.
“I’d also ask businesses to continue to keep staff and customers safe by encouraging the use of face coverings and retaining other Covid measures which are already have in place, such as the provision of hand gel and, where practical, social distancing measures.
“You should also protect yourself and others by making sure you got the life saving vaccine. It is helping prevent more people from becoming seriously ill with Covid-19 and evidence also suggests a vaccinated person is about 3 quarters less likely to pass on Covid-19 to someone else.
“So as more people are vaccinated, not only are they given protection against the virus, but it will become harder for the virus to spread to others. Please remember that you need to have both doses in order to get maximum protection."
Even as restrictions are removed next week people must still book a PCR test if they have symptoms of Covid-19 via GOV.UK or by calling 119.
People must also isolate when positive or when contacted by NHS Test and Trace and everyone arriving from red list countries must quarantine – as must those people not fully vaccinated arriving from amber list countries.
People without symptoms of Covid-19 are encouraged to get a regular rapid – details at Lateral Flow Home Test Kits – in order to reassure themselves and others that they don’t have the virus.
For full details of the new guidance, please visit GOV.UK.
Latest figures show there were 292.4 new cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 people in Wolverhampton over the last 7 days. That means 769 people in the city tested positive for the virus in that same period – though the true number of new cases will likely be higher.