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Council leader urges residents to stay safe, stay local as lockdown eases

15 May 2020

Poster for social distancing.

Council leader Allen Brett is urging residents to continue to be on their guard against coronavirus as the phased relaxation of lockdown gets under way.

The government announced some small changes to the lockdown measures earlier this week, with people now able to exercise more than once a day and those who can return to work being encouraged to do so.

But with hundreds of deaths still being recorded every day, and the risk of a 2nd wave of infection which could overwhelm the NHS, local services and care homes, the council is urging caution.

Councillor Brett, said: "We appreciate the challenges of lockdown and the temptation to go out, but we would urge people to exercise caution, as this horrible virus is still very much with us. The worst thing we could do now is let down our guard and create a second wave of infections, which could be even worse than the first.

"In particular, we are blessed with wonderful countryside and beauty spots all around our borough, but they will still be here long after this dreadful pandemic is over, so I would encourage people to delay their visit until these places can be enjoyed in complete safety.

"I'm proud that our residents have by and large followed official advice and I appreciate that it's not been easy for anyone, but if people rush to return to normal leisure activity and start visiting our beauty spots and parks in large numbers, we risk undoing all this work and going back to square 1."

If people venture out to local beauty spots, they risk becoming a breeding ground for infection'

The leader has encouraged residents to stay in their local area for their exercise and not travel out to other parts of the borough and beauty spots, as they risk becoming a breeding ground for infection if people use them as they would have done before. The expectation is still that people stay at home as much as possible and social distancing must be followed at all times when people are out doing their exercise, at work or buying essentials.

The council is advising:

  • Continue to stay at home as much as possible.
  • 'Stay safe, stay local' - try to take your daily exercise within your local area - avoid travelling out to beauty spots where it will be more difficult to socially distance and protect yourself and your family.
  • Always maintain social distancing when out and about, by staying 2 metres apart from other people at all times.

While people are being encouraged to return to work if they can't work from home, the council is supporting employees and businesses to ensure the local economy is supported in a safe and responsible way.

Advice and guidance is being shared with local businesses through a number of channels through both Rochdale Development Agency and the council, and our public protection team is continuing to ensure that workplaces are complying with regulations.

'Our behaviour over the coming weeks will have a direct impact on how many people die'

Council chief executive Steve Rumbelow said: "This awful pandemic has been a test for all of us. But if there's one positive we can take from this awful situation, it's that the power is in our hands. Our behaviour, particularly in the coming weeks, will have a direct impact on how many people die and how we behave now will make all the difference to our future. Our wonderful borough and its many attractions will still be here long after this is over and we look forward to welcoming people back at the right time."