Portsmouth residents urged to be 'sensible' over Easter weekend to avoid another lockdown
CITY residents are being urged to stick to Covid rules this bank holiday weekend to avoid ‘ending up in another national lockdown.’
Portsmouth bosses are warning people to be 'sensible' over Easter by sticking to the rule of six and not visiting others inside their homes - even if temperatures drop as predicted.
And in a bid to promote social distancing rules Portsmouth City Council has installed new signs along Southsea seafront with reminders of the rules.
City council leader, Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, said: 'We saw what happened over Christmas. If you look at areas like the Isle of Wight where restrictions weren't imposed by government infection rates went through the roof and it's one of the reasons we ended up in another national lockdown.
'We are not allowed to be in other people's homes - it's really simple and really clear.
'Saturday and Sunday look like they will both be quite chilly but don't be tempted to go into someone's home. You can sit in their garden but that is it.'
It comes after The News reported modelling showed an expected surge in local Covid cases at the end of May.
Cllr Vernon-Jackson added: 'Advice from public health is that rates are going to go up between May and June so let's see if we can keep them down as much as possible.'
Recent data from Public Health England has shown a drop in cases in Portsmouth over two weeks.
In the seven days up to March 27 there were 88 new Covid cases recorded, down from 100 in the week up to March 20.
Across England in the same period, 56 per cent of areas saw a drop in cases.
Helen Atkinson, the director of public health for Portsmouth, said: 'Although it's promising that infection rates in Portsmouth are continuing to decrease, and the number of people getting vaccinated is rising, as we head into Easter, it's important to remember that when we meet with more people, there are more opportunities for the virus to spread.
'We must take this next step safely and we all have a part to play by continuing to follow the hands, face, space guidance, taking part in regular testing, getting vaccinated when it's your turn and not mixing with other households indoors.'
Vaccine data released by the government on Thursday show that in Portsmouth 63,579 over-50s have had their first dose - which equates to 96.4 per cent. In Gosport it is 32,792 over-50s, or 94.7 per cent, and in Fareham 50,941 people - 96.8 per cent of all over-50s . In Havant the figures are 54,454 over-50s, or 96.3 per cent, in the Winchester council area it is 49,807, or 96.3 per cent and East Hampshire it is 54,377 people, or 97.3 per cent. The figure for the Chichester City Council area is 57,153 over-50s - 96.1 of the population of that age.
And the medical director at Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust, John Knighton, added: 'It’s important to remember that Covid-19 is still a part of our lives and we need to ensure we continue following the rules, which includes not meeting with people indoors who aren’t in our support or household bubble.
'The NHS remains busy, but open if you need us. Please continue to help us by following government guidance, staying safe and doing what you can to protect yourself and others.
'If you need urgent medical support, which isn’t life threatening, please contact NHS111 first to get the help you need.'
Parents are being reminded that schoolchildren should continue to be tested for Covid throughout the Easter holidays.
In a letter the city council's director of education, Alison Jeffrey, said: 'Secondary age children, and the parents of primary and secondary aged pupils, should continue to test at home every three to four days through the Easter holidays using lateral flow tests.
'The lateral flow tests are not intended for use by primary aged children or those with symptoms. If you or your child has coronavirus symptoms then you must self-isolate and book a PCR test.
'The actions you take have an impact - they stop your family and friends from becoming poorly and will help us towards the further relaxation of lockdown measures when the time is right.'