Bolton Council leaders have welcomed the Prime Minister’s announcement of a national roadmap out of restrictions while cautioning that people should continue to follow the rules.
Road map step 1
Progress to each stage of the plan depends on the virus remaining under control and not spreading in the community.
On February 22, the Prime Minister set out a roadmap for easing lockdown restrictions in England.
The plan will see schools re-opening for all pupils, and businesses, community facilities and other venues re-open gradually during the next few months.
Reviews of the restrictions on meeting other people will also take place.
Various regulations have been in place to reduce the transmission of the virus from person to person.
Bolton Council leader, Cllr David Greenhalgh, said:
“The Prime Minister’s announcement marks a significant step forward as we work hard to bring the virus under control and begin to return to normal.
“Together with the continued success of our local vaccination programme, there are many reasons to be optimistic about Bolton’s economy in the coming months.
“The most important thing for me is we want a sustainable recovery. We do not want to return to a position of going in and out of lockdown restrictions.
“Businesses and residents need confidence that when we remove restrictions, we will not be re-implementing them the following week.
“This is why the decisions made nationally over the coming weeks are crucial. In the best interests of all of us, we need to work together to get our rates down in order to avoid this.”
Under Step One of the plan, the first changes will come into effect on Monday, March 8 with the re-opening of schools to all pupils.
Bolton Council’s Executive Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Cllr Anne Galloway, thanked teachers and school staff for all they have done during this time.
“Schools across Bolton have remained open throughout the pandemic for vulnerable pupils and the children of critical workers,” she said.
“Staff and teachers have done an incredible job supporting pupils learning from home – but the classroom is the best place for their educational and social development.
“I’m sure many families will join me in welcoming any move that will allow more pupils to return to school safely with sensible precautions in place.”
As part of step one, there will be further limited changes from 29 March, the week in which most schools will break up for Easter. Outdoor gatherings of either 6 people or 2 households will be allowed, providing greater flexibility for families to see each other.
Under the roadmap each stage will be reviewed before progressing to the next. There will be a minimum of five weeks between each step: four weeks for the data to reflect changes in restrictions; followed by seven days’ notice of the restrictions to be eased.
Dr Helen Lowey, Bolton Council’s Director of Public Health added: "Covid-19 case rates are reducing in Bolton, however our rates remain high.
"We are seeing declining rates across England and it's encouraging to see both hospitalisations and the number of deaths due to Covid-19 falling. The rate of decrease does differ by regions.
“The rollout of our vaccination programme gives us grounds for cautious optimism. And we are grateful that so many people have come forward to have their vaccine when invited to do so by their GP.
"Despite this, and the government’s announcements of some easing of restrictions in the coming weeks, Covid-19 is still circulating within our community. The public health measures of social distancing, hand washing, wearing face coverings and ventilation remain critical. And for all businesses to put in place measures to reduce the risk of transmission for when staff are unable to work from home.
"Please do continue to reduce the number of contacts that you have, and if you can work from home, then please do. When in work, or out and about, try to stay at least 2m apart from other people, whether this is out for physical exercise, or shopping for essential items. Please continue to wash your hands regularly and wear a face covering where required to do so.
"By continuing with these measures in the months ahead we can hopefully bring rates down further - and allow a cautious and gradual easing of restrictions."