Somerset’s residents are encouraged to enjoy new freedoms like hugging and socialising indoors – but to do so carefully, as lockdown rules are further eased.
From Monday, May 17 rules have been relaxed to enable people to socialise in limited numbers, hug loved ones, and visit pubs and restaurants indoors.
But with Somerset still seeing high numbers of Covid-19 cases in some areas, the county’s Public Health leaders are calling on residents to remain on their guard while enjoying the new freedoms.
Director of Public Health Professor Trudi Grant said: “Somerset is in a good position as we move into this latest phase of lockdown, with a relatively low number of cases overall.
“We know it has been a tough year for everyone with limited social interaction. However, we all want the positive trend to continue so we can get back to normal and that means we still have to act sensibly to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.
“There are a number of things people can do in order to limit the chances of the infection spreading as society starts to open up again.
“When welcoming family and friends back into homes, let fresh air in too. The message of hands, face, space, and fresh air is especially important when mixing indoors.
“Science still indicates that along with washing our hands regularly and wearing face coverings in enclosed public spaces, keeping your distance from others is an important measure in preventing the spread of coronavirus.”
People are being reminded that they should be testing for coronavirus twice a week. Anyone in Somerset can access free, regular, ‘lateral flow’ (rapid) Covid-19 testing.
This regular testing is for people who do not have symptoms of Covid-19 and is important because it helps to find cases which would otherwise go unidentified, as well as contributing to the process of identifying and suppressing new variants of concern. More information on how to access ‘lateral flow’ testing kits can be found here: Coronavirus – Get a test if you do not have symptoms (somerset.gov.uk)
Councillor Clare Paul, Somerset County Council’s member responsible for health and wellbeing, said: “We are hoping as many people as possible are making regular testing a part of their weekly routine now it is available to all. This is so important as it will allow us to catch asymptomatic cases earlier and potentially spot new variants earlier too. It is very important for people to request a PCR test if they show symptoms.”
Anyone who is showing symptoms of Covid-19, or has tested positive using a ‘lateral flow’ (rapid) test kit, should immediately self-isolate and should book a confirmatory PCR test online or by calling 119.
Those required to self-isolate are being urged to complete the full isolation period – this means staying home and not going out to work, to the shops or to exercise. People self-isolating may be eligible to access the test and trace support payment scheme, which provides a £500 payment to help during isolation. More information about this scheme can be found by contacting your local District Council.
Anyone in need of help or support while self-isolating can call the Somerset Coronavirus Helpline, 0300 790 6275, which offers a range of support from help accessing food and medicines, to emotional and financial support, and employment and business advice.