A statement from the public health directors of seven of the region’s councils calls on people to remember while the latest step of the roadmap has come in and the next stage is due on Monday, June 21, the virus is still with us.
The LA7 chiefs, who represent Sunderland, South Tyneside, Northumberland and County Durham, as well as North Tyneside, Gateshead and Newcastle, said: “While embracing loved ones for the first time in over a year, or enjoying a meal indoors at our favourite restaurant and celebrating the progress of the vaccination programme, it is understandable that we could feel like the pandemic is over.
“But the reality is that we’re not out of the woods yet.
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“Some areas of the country are beginning to see infection rates creep up again – some are increasing very quickly - and cases have been linked to new variants of concern which appear to be more easily passed on.
“Schools and businesses across our region have been affected by small, localised outbreaks and as we know from painful experience, this is likely to result in spread among the wider community.
“Our communities have sacrificed a great deal to drive down infection rates and this diligence has led to the roadmap progressing according to its original schedule.
"There is, however, no guarantee that restrictions will be lifted further on June 21 as we all hope they will be.”
They say the vaccine remains one of the best ways of protection, with early data indicating it works against variants of concern and those who missed their first invite able to sign up via www.nhs.uk.
While those awaiting their appointment are in less vulnerable age groups, under 50s can suffer severe illness or death and could face long Covid.
Those vaccinated are urged to still follow the rules, with no immunisation 100% effective, while testing is available and Test and Trace in operation.
The statement adds: “We can’t afford for the virus to spread uncontrollably once again throughout our population.
"Please make sure you do your bit to help us keep moving forwards to support livelihoods as well as save lives.”