THE community of Ryedale is preparing for “difficult weeks and months” ahead due to the coronavirus.

Steps are being taken to support people living in the area as the Government steps up measures to slow down the spread of COVID-19.

Across Ryedale volunteer groups are being set up to help vulnerable and elderly residents who face weeks of self-isolation. One of the first groups is Ryedale Covid19 Help Network, which is aiming to help people who are self-isolating by picking up shopping, posting mail or providing a friendly telephone chat.

The group is being supported by a number of local businesses, including Scoops in Malton and Direct Imaging Supplies Ltd.

Ryedale District Cllr Steve Mason, who set up the group with Malton resident Jack Ashton, said: “By having a tight knit community action network we can offer a little more reassurance to people, offer help and at the same time integrate any advice and support from the council.”

Cllr Mason added: “Following some feedback from conversations with Ryedale District Council this week, people should feel reassured that the authority is working intensely to protect residents in these uncertain times.

“Advice will be forthcoming which communities can use to protect everyone, including volunteers within the community to help them to help others in a safe and effective manner.”

Pickering Town Council is hosting a special meeting next Monday, March 23, at 7pm, in the Memorial Hall, to discuss its response to the situation.

A spokesperson said: “We would like to hear from people who are thinking of starting up a volunteering scheme and from existing organisations and charities who are changing their normal services so that we can build up a picture of what is being done to support residents.”

On Monday, the Prime Minster Boris Johnson announced significant new measures, including:

  • Anyone with a fever or persistent cough should stay at home for seven days if they live alone or 14 days if they live with others. Anyone who lives with someone displaying coronavirus symptoms should also stay at home for 14 days. People who have to isolate themselves should ask others for help;
  • Everyone should stop non-essential contact with others. People should work from home where they can;
  • People should avoid places like pubs, clubs and theatres and stop all unnecessary travel;
  • By the weekend, those with the most serious health conditions should be largely shielded from social contact for 12 weeks.

Cllr Keane Duncan, leader of Ryedale District Council (RDC), said: “These are testing and worrying times our district has not seen before. We have to expect yet more disruption to our way of life as we play our role in managing the spread of coronavirus and looking after those affected by it.

“But it is vital that we stay as cool and calm as we can. Ryedale’s greatest strength is the strength of its communities and I know that everyone will work together to get through the coming days and weeks.

“It is more important than ever that we look out for each other and help those who need it.

“Ryedale District Council is as ready as it can be to deal with the implications of the virus. We have phenomenal staff, who will work hard to ensure vital services continue as best as we can.

“There are likely to be difficult weeks and months ahead, so it is vital that we all pull together.”

Cllr Michael Cleary, chairman of Ryedale District Council, said:”While this is an unprecedented situation it is not unprepared for. Our council officers and staff have procedures in place to prioritise services.

“Residents should keep up-to-date with advice from the Government via the Public Health England web pages.

“This advice is likely to change on a regular basis. They will want to ensure their elderly and vulnerable relatives and neighbours are safe, but it is important that sensible hygiene precautions are maintained when doing so.”