Wolverhampton's Director of Public Health has welcomed the gradual relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions announced by the Government – and called on residents and businesses to do everything they can to ensure that it doesn't lead to a resurgence in the virus.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson last night outlined a roadmap out of the current lockdown for England and, next month, some of the rules around what people can and cannot do will be changing. 

From Monday 8 March:

  • pupils and students in all schools and further education settings will return to face to face teaching, supported by twice weekly testing of secondary school and college pupils. Secondary school pupils will be required to wear face coverings unless exempt. Wraparound childcare can reopen
  • practical teaching at universities will resume, but other teaching will continue to be done remotely
  • people will be allowed to spend time in outdoor public spaces for recreation (for instance a drink or picnic) on their own, with one other person, or with their household or support bubble. People must continue to maintain social distance from anyone outside of their household
  • care home residents will be allowed to have one regular, named visitor

From Monday 29 March:

  • outdoor gatherings of up to 6 people or 2 households will be allowed, including gatherings in private gardens
  • outdoor sports facilities such as tennis or basketball courts will reopen and organised adult and children’s sport, such as grassroots football, can also restart
  • the formal "stay at home" order will be lifted, though people will still be encouraged to work from home where possible
  • no overseas travel allowed beyond the current small number of exceptions
  • up to 30 people will be able to attend funerals, and up to 6 attend weddings and wakes

Further changes are planned from April onwards, including the reopening of parts of the economy, such as leisure and hospitality. For full details, please visit GOV.UK

John Denley, Wolverhampton's Director of Public Health, said: "The cautious lifting of the restrictions planned from 8 March will be hugely welcomed by everyone and demonstrates that there really is light at the end of the tunnel.

"However, it's important to remember that we have only been able to get to where we are now in our fight against coronavirus thanks to the incredible sacrifices that everyone has made over the last 12 months. 

"We've managed to drive the infection rate down, and the number of new hospitalisations is falling too. 

“But the virus hasn't gone away – and hundreds of people in Wolverhampton are still testing positive for Covid-19 every week. As the rules start to be relaxed, it is incredibly important that we carry on doing all we can to stop the virus from making a resurgence in the coming weeks.

"So please continue to stay home unless absolutely necessary, practice hands, face and space, get a PCR test if you develop symptoms or a regular rapid test if you don’t have symptoms. Most importantly, please make sure you get your Covid-19 jab as soon as you are invited to do so.

“We also need businesses and employers to ensure they are able to carry on keeping their staff and customers safe, by continuing to operate in a Covid-secure manner.
“Doing this will help ensure the first stage of our journey out of lockdown over the next few weeks goes as smoothly as possible and, hopefully, paves the way for greater freedoms in the months ahead.”

Superintendent Simon Inglis of Wolverhampton Neighbourhood Policing Unit said: "At long last we can see a route out of this pandemic that may allow us to return to a sense of normality and the freedoms we are all used to. However, it is vital that we continue to follow the restrictions in the meantime as they are still in law and will be enforced accordingly.

“If we truly want this to be the last official lockdown we must follow the rules and my officers and staff will be ensuring compliance with them in order to keep us all safe. Whilst I understand the impact this will have an all of you, your support in these final few weeks and months will ensure we can come out of this pandemic as quickly as possible.

“Preventing crime and disorder and responding to calls for service is at the heart of what we do and by ensuring we don’t have to deal with breaches of the restrictions will ensure we can provide you with the very best service possible. The lifting of the restrictions is conditional and relies on us all sticking to the rules, let’s do this together.”

Latest figures show there were 168.7 new cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 people in Wolverhampton over the 7 days to 20 February. That means 444 people in the city tested positive for the virus in that 7 day period – though the true number of new cases will likely be considerably higher.

The latest information and guidance around coronavirus is available at GOV.UK and on the council’s own coronavirus pages. Information about the vaccine can be found at Covid-19 Vaccine. Further details of the lockdown restrictions currently in place, and the answers to frequently asked questions, are available at COVID Alert.