As Wolverhampton heads into the late May Bank Holiday weekend, people are being urged to stay safe and protect themselves and others from coronavirus.

Though infection rates remain low, residents are being asked to remain vigilant – particularly because of the presence in the city of the new variant of Covid-19 which was first identified in India. It is more transmissable and has led to a huge increase in infection rates in some other parts of the country.

Councillor Jasbir Jaspal, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet member for Public Health and Wellbeing, said: "Thanks to everyones efforts over the last few months – and also thanks to the continuing rollout of the life-saving Covid-19 vaccine – we are in a much better place now than we were back in January. 

"The gradual relaxation of the lockdown measures, including the return of pupils to the classroom and the reopening of hospitality, has thankfully not led to a dramatic increase in infection rates here in Wolverhampton.

"However, nationally numbers are starting to rise and we’ve seen from places like Bolton how quickly things can change, so we still need to take this virus very, very seriously.

“Please make sure you stay safe and protect yourself, your family and your friends if you are out and about this weekend, whether you are heading down to the pub, going out for a meal, catching a movie at the cinema or meeting up with others. 

“Remember that it is safer to be outside so, with the weather improving, why not enjoy some time in the park, garden or another outdoor space?

“Whatever you do, please follow the Hands, Face and Space guidance and, if you are meeting up with people that you don't live with, please get your free rapid Covid-19 test beforehand to reassure yourselves and others that you don't have the virus."

Superintendent Simon Inglis of Wolverhampton Police said: “This weekend is a really important period in our overall journey on the road map out of restrictions. The weather is expected to be good and we have a Bank Holiday on Monday to enjoy. 

“We would encourage all members of the community who want to meet up with others and take up the offer of more open hospitality to do so – but please do so safely.

“There are still restrictions in place and it is vital that these are followed. Pubs, restaurants and cinemas have all worked really hard to ensure they are complaint with the rules and it is vital that customers comply with requests around social distancing, mask wearing, numbers in attendance and so on. 

“We will be attending many premises over the weekend to check compliance and if breaches are identified, individuals may face fines and the premises may face enforcement or even closure – neither of which any of us want.

“Overall though I am confident that any such enforcement will be kept to a minimum and the community will follow the rules, support our hospitality sector and help Wolverhampton get back to being the great city that we all know it is.”

Further details about the restrictions now in place, plus frequently asked questions and answers, are available at COVID Alert

For more information about rapid Covid-19 testing – for people without symptoms of the virus – please visit Lateral Flow Home Test Kits

Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus is reminded that they should immediately self-isolate and book a PCR text at GOV.UK or by calling 119.