"Be sensible, please": Sheffield health chief 'optimistic' as lockdown eases but urges caution

Sheffield’s health chief has spoken of his optimism as the city takes further steps out of lockdown today, however has warned that people must be cautions and ‘not muck it up now’.

Monday, 17th May 2021, 8:54 am

Today (May 17) the next step in the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown comes into play, and people are allowed to mix indoors in limited groups, and hospitality venues can start to let people in.

This comes because the roadmap has so far gone to plan, with the infection rates in Sheffield steadily declining along with the number of people hospitalised with Covid-19.

As lockdown eases, Sheffield’s director of public health Gregg Fell has warned people not to get complacent and to follow the rules that remain in place, as well as to get vaccinated.

Sign up to our public interest bulletins - get the latest news on the Coronavirus

Sign up to our public interest bulletins - get the latest news on the Coronavirus

A member of the bar staff pulls a pint in a Wetherspoons pub (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

Mr Fell said: “We’re in a position now where we are beginning to get back to normal and there is a balance between this and keeping people safe. We’ve all worked incredibly hard to get to this point and my thanks go out to people across the city for everything that they have done. We should all be feeling optimistic now!

“That said, I would be lying if I were to say I’m not nervous about the next few weeks because with this easing, cases will inevitably rise. We desperately need people to remember the basics and to take it steady – it’s really important that we don’t all go overboard and muck it up now.”

Mr Fell credited Sheffield’s successful vaccinated programme for ensuring the city can unlock in step with the rest of the country.

Director of Public Health Greg Fell in Peace Gardens during lockdown.

He said: “I am pretty optimistic overall for the next few months because in Sheffield our vaccination rates are high, better than I could have dreamed of. 60 per cent of Sheffield residents have had their first dose and 25 per cent of those people have had their second dose.

"The impact of this going forward is huge – the vaccination does reduce transmission. Thank you to everyone who has come forward. It has been, and still is, a huge logistical effort.”

Looking to the future, Mr Fell added: “What now for us in Sheffield? Well, it’s important that we continue to work through our vaccination programme to our younger age groups who can become ill with Covid.

"It’s important to still follow the basics. If you have symptoms do not hug anyone, stay at home and isolate. Hugging is a tricky one and it’s really a judgement call – it’s allowed, and loads of people will have been waiting for this chance but it’s not without its risks and some are more vulnerable than others.

"Just be sensible, please. There’s little doubt that at some stage we will get other variants here and at that point we’ll need to take stock, be careful and put more safety in place.

"Travel will lead to variants spreading so remember that if you travel from abroad, isolate when you get home if you’re told to. I can’t stress enough now important that is.

“If you’re offered the vaccine take it and encourage others to all well. Get tested twice a week if you can, meet outside if possible and if you do meet inside, make sure the space is well ventilated by opening doors and windows.”

The rules from today (May 17)

Monday sees the opening of indoor hospitality including restaurants, pubs, bars and cafes. People will be able to meet indoors with up to 6 people or 2 households (each household can include a support bubble) and outdoor gatherings of up to 30 people are now allowed.

If children do not live in the same household as their parents or one of their parents, existing arrangements for contact between them will remain in place. Friends and family can provide informal childcare for children under 14 as part of a regular childcare arrangement.

Indoor and outdoor events, including live performances, sporting events and businesses can now take place with Covid-secure measures in place. In addition, indoor and outdoor attractions and hospitality venues including cinemas, theatres, concert halls, bowling alleys, museums, children’s indoor play areas, zoos, theme parks can all open. Saunas and steam rooms can also open.

Some Sheffield libraries opened last week and many more will be open from Monday

Universities will open for face to face learning. Care homes will allow regular visits of up to five named visitors (two at any time) as outlined on our care home visiting page.

People should continue to work from home where they can.

In terms of travel, holiday accommodation can open (including hotels and B&B's) and can be used by groups of up to 6 people or two households including a bubble, if eligible. Overnight stays in England are allowed for up to 6 people or 2 households. International travel is allowed , and there's a traffic light system that must be followed when returning depending on whether you're returning from a green, amber or red list country.

Attendance at funerals will depend on how many people a Covid-secure venue can safely accommodate and attendance at weddings, wakes and other commemorative events will be limited to 30 people. In Sheffield City Council-run funeral buildings this will remain at 25 mourners for indoor services.