Health chiefs in Northamptonshire have warned that lives will be at risk if people flout lockdown rules by leaving their homes this bank holiday weekend.

Extensive national media coverage today has suggested that social distancing measures may be relaxed after the weekend – but Northamptonshire residents are reminded that they must stay at home and not meet anyone outside their household until official guidance changes.

Lucy Wightman, Northamptonshire’s Director of Public Health, said: “The people of Northamptonshire have been fantastic so far in the way they have embraced social distancing and followed the health and government advice. By staying at home they have already played a huge role in ensuring that our NHS has not been overwhelmed by this pandemic.

“But until the official guidance changes it’s absolutely vital that we all keep going to protect the NHS and save lives.

“Dramatically reducing the number and frequency of contacts between people is very effective at stopping transmission from person to person. You are making the difference – it’s down to you that we are seeing cases reduce in the county and fewer people are dying from the COVID-19 virus.

“Of course it’s hard not seeing family and friends – these measures are not easy for any of us but they are working and the spread of the disease is slowing.

“I urge everyone in our county to continue to follow the government and health advice. It may be tempting, but trying to return to normal too quickly could mean that we see cases rapidly increase again, resulting in more people needing hospital care and sadly more deaths in Northamptonshire.

“So please continue to stay at home, observe social distancing and wash your hands regularly. Your actions are helping to protect the most vulnerable people in our communities and to save lives.”