As of yesterday, people who test positive for coronavirus are no longer legally required to isolate, although they will still be advised to stay at home for at least five days.
Latest data reveals there were 1,221 positive cases in Northumberland in the week to February 20, although the infection rate of 377.1 per 100,000 population is at its lowest since September.
Although the decision to relax rules has been welcomed, there are still some who believe more could and should have been done.
Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery said: “Living with Covid doesn’t mean wishing it away.
"The government has had two years to make improvements that would help the country get back to normal but, as usual, have prioritised their personal self-interests.
“By getting rid of all restrictions with no plan, we are gambling with people’s safety again. It is incredibly reckless to those who have shielded to simply pull all restrictions with no plan.
"Getting rid of isolation payments and sick pay from day one, as well as scrapping the availability of free tests, are incredibly regressive steps that will just put low-paid workers in precarious work in a terrible position and one that could let the virus mutate more easily.”
Joseph Hughes, town clerk at Blyth Town Council, said: "I would imagine most people welcome the end of restrictions, but one has to be mindful that Covid is still around and the potential effect on the old and vulnerable, so wearing masks when necessary and maintaining social distancing along with good ventilation is sensible."
Cramlington Town Mayor Loraine De Simone said “Although the regulations for Covid-19 have now relaxed, there is still guidance about what to do if you contract it or are close to someone who has itand I am confident that the majority of people will heed this advice.“Throughout the whole pandemic I have been very impressed with the way Cramlington residents have reacted and the consideration they have shown to others.”“I’m sure this thoughtful attitude will continue as we take another step towards getting life back to ‘normal’.”
Businesses and those in the hospitality industry have also welcomed the lifting of restrictions, and the support of customers over the past two years.
Waseem Mir, of Harbour View in Seaton Sluice, said: “Our customers have been fantastic throughout the pandemic.
"It’s very much a personal choice about mask wearing for our customers now, but Covid is still amongst us and I’m sure that common sense will prevail.
“The challenges of Covid may be coming to an end, but we are now facing the effects of rising fish prices which have gone up by 65%, as well as those for cooking oil and energy too.
"We’ve been through one crisis and we’ll get through this one too, thanks to our loyal staff and customers.”
Fresh calls have also been made to help businesses recover from the pandemic.
John McCabe, chief executive, North East England Chamber of Commerce, said: “We really want to see our economy fully open and thriving again, but the government has placed the onus on businesses to do all they can to protect employees and customers.
"Without access to free tests, more people with Covid will be moving around society and the workplace without knowing they’re infectious.
"Our members know the end of Covid restrictions doesn’t mean the end of Covid or the huge problems business leaders have faced in the last two years.
"The government really needs to take on board the concerns we are expressing on behalf of businesses in the North East.”