Easter, the school holidays and religious festivals are nearly upon us – and with recent changes to restrictions about meeting up outdoors, it means more people will naturally want to enjoy a little more freedom. Whilst we want people to enjoy the fresh air, limited meet ups and observe their faith practices - we still need to be mindful of lockdown rules over the Easter Bank Holiday period and beyond.
The ‘Stay Home’ rule ended on 29 March but now means
- outdoor gatherings of either six people, or two households are now allowed
- meeting indoors still remains banned
- people will continue to minimise their travel and avoid contact with other households.
- People from different households who are not in a support bubble will still need to socially distance from each other.
Restrictions also remain in place to limit movement, including guidance against people staying away from their main residence overnight.
- Campsites and self-contained holiday accommodation remain closed until at least April 12, after the Easter weekend.
Stephen Gunther, Walsall Council Director of Public Health said:
“People are naturally keen to exercise some more personal freedoms but this is still a ‘take it slowly and carefully’ approach out of lockdown, so we can make sure this lockdown is the last. We have come so far and it has never been more important to continue to follow national COVID guidance, we do not want to see another surge in cases.
“The holiday period is upon us and Easter is often a period of self-reflection and for some an expression of faith. During the pandemic however, some of these traditional customs like a family meal or attending worship will need to be adapted, as social mixing has the potential for increasing COVID-19 transmission.
“I would ask that anyone who is visiting a place of worship this Easter bank holiday to continue to wear a face covering inside, unless exempt and to maintain social distancing from anyone they do not live with. Please remember to wash or sanitise hands or entering your place of worship and on returning home.”
“If you haven’t had your vaccination yet, I would urge you to have it as soon as it’s offered to you. Anyone who is over 50 years old can still get their COVID vaccine without an appointment at the Saddlers Centre from now until 11 April. It’s open daily from 8am -7 pm.”
“The vaccine is safe and effective, and it’s the best way we’ve got to beat the pandemic. Shielding is also paused from 01 April, and Public Health advice is for those in the clinically and extremely vulnerable category is to continue to follow the local guidance to keep themselves safe.”
Dave Brown, Director, Place & Environment at Walsall Council added,
“We are moving towards a lessening of restrictions - we want this to continue and for everybody to stay safe. Avoiding popular public sites at peak times and maintaining your social distance when you are out doors, or exercising helps protect you and others.
“Warmer weather and a Bank Holiday period will mean people want to enjoy it and we know everybody loves the Walsall Arboretum, but repeated and collective visits to this popular site will lead to rising and unsafe visitor numbers. You can help to reduce this risk by walking to a local green space or beauty spot that is most likely nearer and with less risk of coming into contact with more people.”
You can check your nearest green open space by entering your postcode here
Notes to editors
- If you are showing symptoms of a new continuous cough, a high temperature, a loss or change to sense of taste or smell please isolate and book a COID-19 test trough the NHS.
- Anyone leaving their home for work and not displaying symptoms is encouraged to participate in symptom free (lateral flow) testing twice a week at locations across the borough.
- People can still enjoy meeting their family and friends in outside spaces, but please keep your distance and don’t invite people indoors.
- Coronavirus spreads easily in enclosed spaces, so mixing indoors with people you don’t live with is still not permitted – unless they’re in your support bubble.
- Also remember that even if you’ve been vaccinated, you must continue to follow the hands-face-space rules.
- Please do not gather in popular green spaces – try to look for an alternative green space near to you and check through the my maps link provided.
Protecting ourselves and each other as we move out of lockdown - Public health matters (blog.gov.uk)
COVID-19: guidance for the safe use of places of worship - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Celebrating religious festivals during coronavirus (COVID-19) - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)