LEADERS in North Yorkshire have urged residents to do everything they can to help drive down coronavirus infection rates after the county was told it would remain in tier 2.

Rates in the county are still below the England average, but there is concern that in some districts, and especially Scarborough, the rate is beginning to rise markedly again.

Richard Flinton, chairperson of the North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum said: “We know there will be some disappointment in areas where rates are lower, that we remain in tier 2 as a whole county. But we can see that rates of reduction have flattened out and in some areas have risen again and our priority has to be about keeping our people Covid safe as we move into the Christmas period.

“We want people to be free from Covid; for businesses to operate more freely, for schools to remain open; and for public services to operate as normal – that has to be our ultimate goal and if we have to stay in tier 2 to achieve it then we must work to the government’s tiering plan.

“The fact is, though we remain below the England average, the rate nationally is rising and we must remember that the current rate for North Yorkshire (108.2/100k) is still five times higher than the rate in the summer. We are by no means out of the woods. People are continuing to die of Covid-19 in the county.

“Several of our hospitals remain under pressure and some are experiencing an increase in Covid cases. Infection levels amongst people aged over 60 are reducing in the main, but we still have outbreaks in 36 out of 235 care homes and cases are increasing in these settings.

“We have to remain vigilant. We have practical advice and support in place for businesses, schools and care services - as well as targeting messaging, door knocking and enforcement, along with police and district council colleagues in those communities that are experiencing spikes in rates.

“We continue to address concerns about people travelling from tier 3 areas into the county – however, the major challenge continues to be household mixing within the county.

“A third wave is not inevitable but each and every one of us still needs to do everything we can to avoid it becoming a reality. Please keep to the rules so we can save lives, support businesses and schools and avoid tougher restrictions in the coming weeks."

Chief Inspector Charlotte Bloxham, silver lead for North Yorkshire Police’s Covid response said: “We know that Christmas is a time when we want to celebrate together and see our family and friends. From December 23 to 27 the restrictions around gathering indoors will change and for a limited period and up to three households will have the opportunity to form a Christmas bubble.

“While the restrictions around indoor gatherings may relax, it’s vital that our approach to fighting this virus does not. No matter what time of year it is, Covid-19 remains a deadly threat."