The Prime Minister has signalled a very clear move away from coronavirus restrictions being the law, and instead indicated that people must be personally responsible for their behaviours and actions in order to reduce the spread of coronavirus.
Nationally, Ministers and Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer, have been describing what they think that means.
Steve Brown, Director of Public Health Devon explains: “We’re moving to a new chapter in the management of the pandemic, where we are no longer instructed by regulation to follow rules, and instead we are encouraged to be personally responsible for our own actions.”
But what does personal or social responsibility look like, and how do I show it?
There’s no doubt that the country is now in a third wave of coronavirus. The case numbers in Devon are rising sharply, mostly in the younger age groups. Thankfully that’s not reflected yet in the number of coronavirus-related hospitalisations or deaths in the county, but those numbers are also rising.
Most of us will know friends or family members who have, or have had coronavirus. And many of us will know people who have needed to self-isolate recently because of their proximity to others with the virus.
"There’s no question about us sitting back and doing nothing. We need to take personal responsibility, and continue with the efforts we have made so far in helping to stop the spread,” said Steve Brown.
“Personal responsibility is about doing the right thing. It’s about respecting others around us, and behaving in ways that protect them and ourselves from the risk of coronavirus.”
At a basic level, it’s simple. Coronavirus is airborne, and it spreads more easily when people are close to one another.
So try to keep your distance from others when in public spaces.
Continue to wear face coverings when indoors in public places where there are other people. That includes public transport, and it may include shops and other indoor premises.
Wash your hands properly and regularly. This can’t be stressed enough how important simple, good hand hygiene is as a protector against viruses.
Try to arrange to meet friends outside rather than indoors as the risk of catching or spreading coronavirus is greatly reduced outside. But if you’re indoors, please make sure that there’s plenty of fresh air.
Stay at home if you are unwell. If you have any of the main symptoms – high temperature, new and continuous cough or change to your usual sense of taste or smell – then arrange a PCR test and stay at home.
Many people will be anxious about the removal of restrictions and some will be less comfortable about going out. So please look out for each other. Know who may be struggling and support them. If in the company of someone who is uncomfortable with others not wearing face coverings for example, wear your face covering.
“Employers also, the rules have changed, but please continue to do the right thing by your workforce and your customers,” said Steve Brown.
“The goalposts may have moved with the intended lifting of restrictions, but our responsibility as members of our family, friends and society have not changed. Please choose to do the right thing for ourselves and others.”