Response to government’s Living Safely With COVID-19 plan

Published Monday 21 February 2022 at 18:06

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement of the government’s Living Safely With COVID-19 plan in the House of Commons this afternoon, we have issued this joint statement from Council Leader Coun Mohammed Khan CBE, Chief Executive Denise Park and Director of Public Health Prof Dominic Harrison:

There’s no denying that this is a huge moment in the Coronavirus pandemic. The lifting of self-isolation legal guidance later this week will be welcomed by many.

Our view is that it is perhaps a little early to relax self-isolation controls and to end free testing for all next month. We do not think the risk from Covid has gone completely. We are still in a transition phase between the pandemic and endemic spread of the virus, and so we will need to protect each other by continuing to keep up sensible infection control measures – even if they will not now be required by law.

As plans are being made to lift legal restrictions, the time is now for everyone to step up and take greater responsibility for their own actions, and to be mindful of vulnerable people living among us and the worries and anxieties that they may have about the complete reopening of society.

While Blackburn with Darwen now has one of the lowest case rates in England, the borough still has one of the highest cumulative case rates – this means more people here have been infected with Covid than anywhere else in England. This is due to several factors that have put our local populations at greater risk from Coronavirus for the duration of the pandemic, including high numbers of people in frontline work, large multi-generational households, and a higher proportion of people from BAME backgrounds who are more susceptible to the virus.

For areas like ours with an enduring transmission risk, continued financial support from government to help us respond to future Covid challenges is needed.

Our local communities have shown true resilience and spirit during these immensely challenging times. Everything that we have learnt during the pandemic now stands us in good stead for the future, as we anticipate the emergence of new variants. We are equipped now with the knowledge of how we can all protect ourselves and those around us, and how to respond quickly to surges in infection rates.

We all have a role to play in keeping virus rates down in BwD, and we urge everyone to continue with things like carrying hand gel and face coverings, being mindful of social distancing, good ventilation in our homes and workplaces, and staying at home if we feel unwell.

The government has highlighted how the risk of Covid to people who are fully vaccinated is much lower than the risk to unvaccinated people. Anyone who has not yet taken up all the vaccine doses they are eligible for should now consider getting their jabs as soon as possible, as we move closer towards living with zero restrictions.

The government’s SAGE committee has predicted that if everyone’s behaviour goes back to how it was before the pandemic, we could see a surge in Covid infections. This is why we all need to manage the risks that we’re exposed to, and take sensible precautions as we learn to live with Covid.

To find out where in Blackburn with Darwen you can get vaccinated, visit

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