Essex’s top health chief is urging residents to be cautious over the bank holiday weekend and half-term in a plea to keep Covid infections under control.

Mike Gogarty, Essex County Council’s director of public health, says people must follow five key rules to ensure they do not unknowingly spread the virus.

The five rules are being promoted in a new campaign – Let’s Keep Covid in Check.

It aims to highlight day-to-day actions all residents in Essex should be carrying out as we learn to live with coronavirus.

The five actions are:

  • Take regular, rapid Covid tests, even if you aren’t showing any symptoms
  • Get vaccinated when you’re eligible to book one
  • Maintain social distancing
  • Wear a face mask or covering in public, inside spaces
  • Continue to wash hands thoroughly and regularly

Speaking ahead of the bank holiday weekend and school half-term, Dr Gogarty said: “It is understandable that people will be excited to meet with friends and family next week.

“Whether inside or outside, continuing to follow Covid-19 guidance and taking a rapid test before meeting or hugging anyone will give you peace of mind that you are not unknowingly putting them at risk when you do.

“We are walking a fine line between balancing our hard-won freedoms and managing the inevitable spread of the virus as restrictions ease.

“We all have a responsibility to protect our loved ones and to keep Covid-19 in check.”

County Hall’s health and social care boss, John Spence, added: “We’ve all enjoyed being able to do more of the things we’ve missed over the past few months.

“Ahead of next week it is so important that we continue to take sensible precautions so that we do not compromise our new freedom.

“Now is not the time to be complacent; we will only be able to manage Covid-19 by everyone continuing to play their part, following the guidance, self-testing regularly and taking up the vaccine when invited to.

“By everyone following the rules, we can keep Covid-19 in check, together.”