Fish Shack restaurant owner

Nearly half of North Easterners still concerned about Covid-19 but feel hopeful about the future as new campaign launches

New independent research commissioned by the seven North East councils reveals how people across the region currently feel about Covid-19. While 44% of us are concerned about the seriousness of the Covid situation in our local area, only 1 in 5 questioned believe that the situation will be worse than it is now in 6 months time - showing cautious optimism among North Easterners.
The research, conducted the week ending 1 June, involved a representative sample of residents from County Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Sunderland.
Currently, 28% of the North Easterners surveyed think there’s a very or fairly high risk of catching the virus and only 12% feel restrictions are being relaxed too slowly - suggesting strong support for pausing the next stage on the Roadmap until 19 July. With 75% of the region saying that, even with restrictions relaxing in recent weeks, they don’t want to rush into doing things, it’s clear that people across the region are willing to be patient and don’t want to progress out of lockdown too quickly.
Key findings include:
- Just over half (54%) of those surveyed feel that in 6 months from now, the Covid situation will be better than it is now - showing some optimism among North Easterners.
- 75% agree that even with restrictions relaxing over recent weeks, they don’t want to rush into doing things.
- 72% are worried that the pandemic restrictions will have a long-lasting negative effect on local jobs and the economy.
- 64% are worried that there will be further outbreaks of Covid-19 over the next few months.
- 95% think it’s important to follow the guidance in order to get Covid under control so life can get back to normal
- 90% think it’s important to follow the guidance to help keep local businesses open
- Only 1 in 5 (20%) of those surveyed think that the situation will be worse in six months time.
The results have informed a major communications campaign which launches today (Thursday 24 June), backed by the seven local authorities and supported by Northumbria and County Durham Local Resilience Forums (LRF) which includes councils, third sector, NHS, blue light services and public transport bodies.
The campaign, featuring businesses from across the North East, urges people to continue to do all they can to keep the virus at bay so that the North East can remain open. It comes at a time when, like many places in the country, the region is seeing a surge in the number of cases with the Delta variant, which is known to be more transmissible than previous strains of the virus.
Commenting on behalf of the seven North East Local Authorities, Director of Public Health for Northumberland, Liz Morgan said; “I want to thank the people of the North East for all they have done to curb the spread of the virus in our region over many months.  It has been a monumental effort which has come at significant personal cost for many.
“While the Prime Minister has pressed pause on the final phase of reopening, this new research suggests residents would largely support the move based on their reservations about rushing back into doing things again. I do believe that by pausing now, ultimately we can get back to where we want to be more quickly in the longer-term, rather than rushing and risking more hospitalisations, and ultimately more deaths and an even more extended roadmap.
“We want to keep our region open where it is safe and possible to do so. Waiting a few more weeks to unlock further will allow more people who are at risk of becoming ill from this virus to receive both doses of the vaccine - our best protection against the virus. In fact, at current rates nearly 10 million second doses of the vaccine could be administered over that time across England - giving higher levels of protection against the Delta variant.
“Meanwhile, younger age groups, who have the highest rates of infection, will have the benefit of having their first dose and I’d like to encourage everyone to take up that offer. As well as providing some protection to them, this will help slow the spread of the virus.  For those who’ve already been offered the vaccine and haven’t yet taken it up, the door is always open.
“We need to learn to live with this virus and there are some simple steps we can all take to support this, which will allow us to keep the region open and businesses and organisations operational.
“Get both doses of the vaccine when you are called. Follow the rules on meeting others. Work from home if you can. And isolate and get a test if you have symptoms or test positive via the Lateral Flow Test. That way the North East can remain open and we can return to enjoying the things we love most, with the people we love most.”
Businesses and organisations from across the region are supporting Keep the North East Open, with many starring in the campaign.
Martin Charlton, owner of Fish Shack, in Northumberland said: “I wanted to be part of the campaign and thank local people for all they are doing to curb Covid infection rates in our area, and remind them to stick with the government guidance, so we can keep the North East open.

“After a really tough year, it’s amazing to welcome people back and to once again be doing what we love most. We want to keep it that way, so please remember the hands, face, space guidance when you visit us and get the vaccine. You’ll be supporting us and protecting our livelihoods, so we can keep our doors open and our customers smiling.”
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