'Don't bend rules' warning to Christmas revellers

The drive-through coronavirus testing facility at the Norwich Research Park. Picture: Denise Bradley

The coronavirus rate in Norfolk has fallen. - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

People should not bend the rules to get round coronavirus restrictions, or Norfolk's efforts to stem the spread of Covid-19 will be undermined, health chiefs have warned.

While rates of coronavirus in Norfolk have fallen, concern remains that cases in over 60s have increased slightly, while there have been increases in North Norfolk and Broadland.

And, with Norfolk now in Tier 2, with tougher restrictions than before national lockdown, the county's deputy public health director said people needed to be cautious and not look for ways to get round restrictions.

At a press conference on Thursday, Diane Steiner, the county's deputy director of public health, said people should not push the boundaries in the run-up to Christmas - amid rumours some people are planning work Christmas parties under the auspices of business meetings.

A local lockdown would be a last resort to combat a fresh rise in cases of coronavirus in Norfolk, a

Diane Steiner, Norfolk's deputy public health director - Credit: Archant

She said: "I think everybody is looking forward to Christmas, but it will be a different kind of Christmas. We can still enjoy Christmas.

"In terms of works parties, for example, I think we can all need to bear in mind that the restrictions in place aren't there as a boundary to push, but something to provide us with the guidance of what we need to do to help Norfolk and to help our co-workers and our families.

What are you like at a Christmas party? Picture Archant Library

People have been urged not to try to bend rules to have Christmas parties. - Credit: Archant

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"I would encourage people to bear that in mind and if they are getting together, to get together in smaller numbers - we know that the rule of six applies outdoors.

"And to think about having any kind of event outdoors, because we know that mixing households indoors, whether at home, in shops or in restaurants, is not within the Tier 2 restrictions.

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"I think we all just need to use some common sense and consider ways we can keep the transmission down whilst still keeping up relationships with co-workers and friends."

Covid-19 rate falls in Norfolk, but rises in North Norfolk and Broadland

Over the past seven days, the Norfolk coronavirus rate has dropped from 112 positive cases per 100,000 people up to November 20 to 94 cases per 100,000 people.

That was described as "encouraging" by council leader Andrew Proctor, while Ms Steiner said the statistics showed the national lockdown had been working.

But rates have gone up in North Norfolk, from 68 to 85 cases per 100,000 and Broadland, up from 90 to 125. It means Broadland now has the highest rate in Norfolk, above the 122 per 100,000 in Norwich.

North Walsham saw 44 cases between November 21 to 27.

The re-opening of some shops in North Walsham following lockdown saw shoppers return to the town cen

North Walsham saw a spate of coronavirus cases, as North Norfolk's rates increased - Credit: Casey Cooper-Fiske

Ms Steiner said: "In North Norfolk, we can link a key driver to that rise to specific situations. I won't get into the details here.

"In Broadland, we can also link some of the rise to known situations, but also there's wider transmission in the community.

"I should say that both areas remain below the national average and we're closely monitoring that data.

"We're working with our district colleagues to try to bring those numbers down and we would expect to see those numbers come down, particularly in North Norfolk, in the coming days."

Other rates per 100,000 people are: Breckland 62 (down from 79), Great Yarmouth 74 (down from 106), King's Lynn and West Norfolk 86 (down from 145) and South Norfolk 99 (down from 152).

Cases in hospitals, care homes and schools

Thirteen of the 182 patients with coronavirus in Norfolk and Waveney's hospitals are in intensive care.

Hundreds of people are taking part in a coronavirus vaccine trial at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. 

Thirteen people with coronavirus are in intensive care in Norfolk and Waveney's hospitals - Credit: Nick Butcher

There are outbreaks (defined as two cases or more) in 55 care homes, one fewer than last week, in 25 schools (up three on last week) and in 24 businesses (up two on last week).

Shopping and getting into Tier 1

With non-essential shops having re-opened, council leader Andrew Proctor said it was essential for the economy that people used them.

But he stressed it was equally essential that people did so safely. He said: "Get out to the shops, please do. That's essential for the economic recovery side, but it it's also essential that people follow the guidelines.

Andrew Proctor, leader of Norfolk County Council. Picture: NCC

Andrew Proctor, leader of Norfolk County Council. Picture: NCC - Credit: Norfolk County Council

"So, if you're in a shop, wear a face covering, please keep social distancing as well. Everything we are trying to do is to to move towards giving us the best chance of moving from Tier 2 to Tier 1."

Ms Steiner said: "Regardless of what tier we in, we need to maintain our vigilance around transmitting the virus."

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