Sunderland’s director of Public Health is urging people to continue taking things cautiously when Step 2 of the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown comes into effect on Monday.

This will see non-essential shops reopening in Sunderland and hospitality venues able to serve food and drinks outdoors as long they’re able to socially distance customers.

Hairdressers and nail salons can also reopen, as can public buildings, including our libraries and community centres. Gyms will reopen – but only for use by people on their own or in household groups – as will most outdoor visitor attractions. Care home visitors will also increase from one to two per visit.

In her weekly video to residents, Gerry Taylor, Sunderland City Council’s Director of Public Health and Integrated Commissioning, said: “This latest step forwards is positive news for us all – and brings us ever closer to normality. But it’s important that as lockdown measures ease, we continue to move forwards together cautiously.

“When you’re out and about in our community please remember the hands, face, space advice – it’s still one of the most effective things you can do to minimise your risk of transmitting – or contracting – the virus. I would advise if shops or venues you’re visiting are busy and you’re unable to socially distance effectively, you return at a later time or date.

“Whilst it’s also tempting as we unlock to invite friends and family into our homes to eat, drink and play, we know that the virus spreads much more quickly and easily indoors. It’s harder to socially distance effectively inside and there is less fresh air to disperse Covid particles. So please, continue to meet outdoors in groups of 6 or two households and work from home if you can.”

Gerry also encouraged everyone to take up their offer of a jab when this comes through and reminded parents with secondary school children of the need to keep up twice-weekly testing during the Easter holidays.

She said: “We know vaccines are highly effective in protecting us – and 60% of the UK population have now been offered their first dose – in fact, we are leading the way with vaccinations here in the North East.

“Over 5 million people have also had their second dose and I’d urge everyone who is offered their first or second dose to attend their appointment – it’s our best chance of protection. The more of us that are vaccinated, the safer we will all be.

“However, no vaccine is 100% effective and there is still some way to go. While the rollout continues, we must remain vigilant as we move through the lockdown easing measures.

“It’s also important that if you have secondary-aged children you continue to keep using the self-test kits over the Easter holidays. Remember to test all household members – excluding primary-aged children – twice a week and report your results to the NHS. If you need more kits, you can order them for free online via the website. 

“Thank you once again for all you are doing to support each other and our community, for getting your vaccine, for following the government guidance and helping to slow the spread here in Sunderland. We are moving ever closer to a brighter future and if we proceed steadily and cautiously, we’ll get there together.”

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