By Julie Webster - Director of Public Health for Wirral

ON Thursday evening, the Government announced that separate households would be banned from meeting in private homes or gardens (apart from support bubbles) in Greater Manchester, East Lancashire and parts of West Yorkshire after a rise in COVID-19 cases.

With these areas going into 'local lockdown' and being very local to Merseyside and Wirral, I want to talk frankly and openly about managing the easing of restrictions and enjoying this safely.

While our restaurants, pubs, shops, services and more continue to reopen, and we are able to enjoy relaxed guidelines around visiting with family and friends, we must remember that the virus hasn't gone away.

If we don’t maintain social distancing in public and private settings, we could face similar restrictions on our movement again.

As a borough, we have achieved so much thanks to the work of our health and care partners, the commitment of our local businesses and organisations and the massive support from you, members of the public, in embracing the measures to keep our most vulnerable safe and well.

Of course going out and about more, visiting different groups, eating out - all increase your risk of contracting and spreading Coronavirus.

But it is possible to do these things, safely - keeping in mind the absolute basics that we have become accustomed to in recent months.

Washing hands regularly, keeping your distance from others and wearing a face covering can help to reduce the spread of the virus.

These measures are strong if we all do our bit to pull together, as much as we can.

This is a message for all residents, regardless of background, health or age.

The restrictions we are seeing come into place in areas just a train, bus or car journey away from our borough could become a reality for us, if we do not continue to stay alert.

So, let's not lose the freedoms we are starting to enjoy again.

Please continue to:

Wash your hands regularly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds (or carry hand sanitiser when out and about).

Keep your distance from others – at least 2m wherever possible.

Wear a face covering in shops and on public transport.

Together, we can all do our bit to Keep Wirral Well.

Thanks again for reading and, please, stay safe.