A significant week in the fight against Covid
Residents are being urged to continue doing their bit to help stop the spread of Covid-19.
On Tuesday, the country marked the first anniversary since the first lockdown with a National Day of Reflection to remember the 126,000 people who have so far lost their lives to coronavirus.
And as the roadmap out of the latest national lockdown edges closer, regional leaders have urged people to do their bit to help stop the spread of the virus and move the country closer to normality.
After a year which has seen thousands of businesses close their doors – both temporarily and permanently – as well as jobs lost and events cancelled, residents are being reminded to continue to look out for one another.
In a statement, the leaders of the LA 7 – including North Tyneside Mayor Norma Redfearn – said there was still the desire to reclaim our lives.
In their latest joint statement, they said: "This is a significant week in our fight against Covid-19 as we reach the anniversary of the first national lockdown.
“A year ago when the first lockdown was announced no one could imagine then how it would impact on all our lives.
“The year that has passed has been long and challenging. We’ve lost so many family and friends.
"We’ve been unable to embrace loved ones for large periods, businesses have ceased trading and countless jobs have been lost.
“What has not changed is our desire to beat Covid-19 and reclaim our lives.
"Our communities have united like never before by following strict impositions on our routines and coming together to ensure relatives and neighbours confined to their homes have been able to access food and other essential provisions.
“Collectively we’ve supported North East jobs and businesses by distributing hundreds of millions of pounds in grants and loans.
"We’ve supported schools to open for vulnerable children and children of key workers, while they in turn supported parents and carers in educating our young people from their homes.
"We continue to support schools now they have fully reopened to all pupils.
“We’ve established community testing centres and programmes, which will play a key part in reopening our economy.
"We’ve worked collaboratively with health partners to create vaccination centres and we’ve been preparing for the future, living with Covid with fewer restrictions in place.
“The progress with vaccinations has been remarkable.
"Safe and effective jabs are already reducing infections and saving lives, and with approximately half of all adults having received at least a first dose, hopefully we’re on the way to our loved ones and communities being fully protected.
"We urge everyone who has been offered to take up the vaccination – it is the best way to protect yourself and others from this deadly virus.
“As we step forward cautiously, we need to continue to maintain the essential Hands, Face, Space guidance as the ‘stay at home’ instruction is lifted on March 29, and continue to look after one another.
“Together we have gone through too much to let our guard down now and undo all your hard work.
"The changing of restrictions can lead to temptation to act as though all is normal.
"We simply cannot afford to take that risk, whether we have been vaccinated or not.
“We owe it to the NHS and key workers, including those in our own local authorities who have battled so hard to deal with the pandemic on the frontline, to keep following the rules.
"They have shown public service at its finest.
“Thank you for all that you continue to do to protect yourself, your communities and the great region we’re all proud to call home."
Police chiefs are also urging people to continue following the guidelines in place.
Northumbria Police’s Assistant Chief Constable, Neil Hutchison, added: “It has now been a year since the first national lockdown which brought so much change to our way of life.
“To this day, we all continue to make sacrifices, most notably when it comes to contact with our loved ones.
“Your efforts are working, combined with the vaccination programme they are driving infection rates down and savings lives.
“Government restrictions and guidance remain in place and it continues to be very important that everyone keeps to them to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.
“The virus has brought unprecedented challenges for us all individually, as a society, for business and industry, and those who provide public services, particularly our colleagues in the NHS.
“Policing has also had to adapt and find new ways of working. I am immensely proud of how officers, staff and volunteers continue to go above and beyond to provide the very best service possible.
“I want to take this opportunity to thank our fantastic communities for the support you have given and say how grateful we are to the overwhelming majority of people who continue to follow the restrictions which are in place.
"We are proud to serve you and keep the people of the North East safe.
“From the outset, we have been very clearly about how we would approach policing the regulations. We will continue to apply discretion and judgement when engaging with the public.
"However, if anyone shows a blatant disregard for the rules we will not hesitate in taking appropriate and necessary enforcement action in order to protect the wider community.
“We want to urge everyone to adhere to the rules as this will mean resources are not diverted to deal with such circumstances that can easily be avoided.
“As we move along the roadmap out of lockdown, it is imperative everyone continues to show the resolve which has got us to this point. This will ensure we ultimately reach our destination without the need for any diversions.”