PEOPLE across the district are being warned by health experts to stay alert to Covid-19 and follow safety guidelines.

The easing of some lockdown restrictions has already led to a large increase in the number of people travelling, meeting up and returning to work.

This is expected to grow further from this Saturday as pubs, cafes, hotels, restaurants, guest houses, camp sites and hairdressers across the district are given the go-ahead to reopen to customers for the first time since March.

Over the past two weeks Bradford district has seen a decline in the number of cases of Covid-19 but the council has today issued a warning that the number of people testing positive for the virus is still too high – and that the risk of localised outbreaks remains. Public Health England data has revealed that Bradford has one of the highest infection rates in the UK. Bradford, Barnsley and Rochdale are all quoted as having infection rates of 45 or more cases per 100,000 people in the last week.

Director of Public Health Sarah Muckle said: “As we take more and more steps towards returning to a more normal life, it’s easy to believe that Covid-19 is less of a threat to our health and the health of our family and friends. This is simply not the case.

“While lockdown was essential for reducing the levels of the virus circulating in our communities, the easing of lockdown takes us into a phase of learning to live with the virus.

“It’s encouraging that we’re seeing a decline in cases, but Bradford still has high numbers of people testing positive for Covid-19, higher than other parts of the UK. It has not gone from our lives. We are still seeing people in our hospitals with the virus and it still has the potential to make our loved ones, who may be more vulnerable, seriously ill.

“It is good news that more people are being tested because once people know they have Covid-19 they can self-isolate and via NHS Test and Trace we can ensure their contacts take appropriate action. However, what we want is more people not to get the virus at all.”

The advice to residents is that people can still have the virus despite showing no symptoms and that everybody should continue to:

* Wash their hands frequently

* Stay at home as much as possible

* Stay two metres apart from people who are not in their household

Ms Muckle added: “The risk of catching coronavirus is much less if you are two metres away from an infected person than if you are one metre.

“Until the number of cases in Bradford comes down, we’re asking people to be extra cautious and continue to keep two metres apart from people they don't live with. If two metres isn’t possible you should wear a face covering.”

Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, leader of Bradford Council, said: “No one wants a second lockdown. The virus is still everywhere and in Bradford district so far more than 500 people have lost their lives to this horrible killer. It takes 3-4 weeks for people to get seriously ill from Covid. We must all stay vigilant, we don’t want to see a second spike of cases that inevitably would mean more deaths. Don’t be conned into thinking it’s all OK now, it’s not. It is crucial that we continue to adhere to the Government guidelines, stay two metres apart wherever possible, not everyone who has the virus has symptoms so you might not realise you are carrying a virus which will kill other people. Wash your hands frequently and wear face coverings in those areas where the social distancing is not possible.

“We’re a city of key workers. Many residents have been working throughout the lockdown in supermarkets, care homes, public transport and that could make us more vulnerable than other places. Knowing that we are testing a lot of people and prioritising key workers. We have the highest testing rates in the whole of the Yorkshire & Humber and North East region. Our key workers have kept us safe, it’s only right we keep them safe too.”

Ms Muckle added: “We know that much of the spread in our district is in households. When isolating it’s important to try to keep away from family members that have tested positive but we can all do our bit by continuing to wash hands and surfaces regularly while at home."