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'Don't be complacent now', say Norfolk health officials as signs of infections rising

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West Norfolk residents are being urged not to be complacent and to respect the tier 2 coronavirus guidelines during the festive period.

Following the second national lockdown, infections have been plateauing across the county but the county council has stated there are signs they may be beginning to rise again.

The hope provided by the beginning of the vaccination programme has raised optimism but the surge prior to lockdown should remind everyone they must not become too relaxed in many areas of their daily life.

Dr Louise Smith, director of Norfolk Public Health
Dr Louise Smith, director of Norfolk Public Health

Dr Louise Smith, director of public health for Norfolk, said: “The lockdown has brought some benefit to the figures in Norfolk and they have returned to those now similar to pre lockdown levels. This is good progress but we are at a pivotal moment for the county on where we go next in our fight against the virus.

“I’m concerned that people might feel they are keeping to the rules, but that they might be following Tier 1 restrictions, not Tier 2.

“The greatest risk for the spread of infection is mixing between households and I worry that people are meeting up in groups of six in homes and in shops and restaurants. In tier 2 households cannot mix in restaurants, and pubs and bars must close unless they are operating as restaurant.

"We all want to support our local businesses, to comply with the Tier 2 rules, as the rules that are there to keep us all safe. The best support we can give to these businesses is to keep to the guidelines when we visit, so they as a business can confidently meet the Covid guidelines.

"I know that many people, businesses and organisations have found it tough over the last few months but the restrictions are there to stop the virus from spreading. The measures are in place to protect everyone and we must remember this. Only by working together can we protect Norfolk.”

No new coronavirus deaths have been announced at Lynn's Queen Elizabeth Hospital today, while the rate of infection within the county for the week up to December 4 was 99 per 100,000, an increase from 94 the previous week.

There are currently 226 people being treated in hospitals in Norfolk and Waveney, up from 182 the previous week.

Tom McCabe, chairman of the Strategic Coordination Group at Norfolk Resilience Forum, said: “The vast majority of our local businesses and shops are playing their part and following the guidelines to keep their customers and staff safe.

“However, there are some exceptions and we need everybody to embrace the new tier rules and to support the proprietors and alongside our colleagues from policing, we will be making visits to ensure they understand the rules.

"After many months of tackling this pandemic, we know there can be no excuses for not being Covid secure. We must not put out our local businesses at risk with our behaviours as the next tier announcement comes next week.

“I want to emphasise that the majority of our local businesses and shops are following the guidelines and we thank them and the people of Norfolk for their efforts.”

As a result of reports and feedback, between 5pm and 9pm tomorrow, local authority environmental health officers, Covid support staff and neighbourhood police officers, will be making visits to a number of venues in each district within Norfolk to offer additional advice and guidance and make their expectations clear around the restrictions.

They will be looking to engage, explain and encourage people to adhere to the guidelines but where this fails they may take enforcement action where it is proportionate to do so.

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