West Yorkshire Prepared, the region’s Local Resilience Forum (LRF), announced it will be standing down the ‘Major Incident’ status that has been in place in the region for 13 months, but people are warned to remain vigilant.
After consultation with LRF partners, including the emergency services, local authorities and the NHS, it was agreed the alert level in the region can be downgraded.
Dave Walton, co-chair of West Yorkshire Prepared and deputy chief fire officer of West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We declared a Major Incident on March 20, 2020 in response to the escalating Covid-19 pandemic due to heightened levels of activity in all our partner organisations, which far exceeded business as usual, and in anticipation of the situation worsening even further.
"Declaring a Major Incident enabled us to ensure all partners were working together, sharing resources where required, and effectively dealing with and responding to challenges.”
A Strategic Coordinating Group (SCG) was established immediately, which enabled LRF agencies and organisations to meet to agree the multi-agency strategy and objectives and priorities, ensuring all agencies were working collaboratively. Together with Public Health England, the Cabinet Office and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), the SCG has since met virtually over 130 times to discuss arising concerns, rates of infection and ultimately agree the response to tackling the pandemic in the region.
Mr Walton said: “The roll out and success of the vaccine programme has offered a little light at the end of the tunnel, and the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown shows the path we need to stay on to ease restrictions. However, we are very mindful of the potential for rates of infection to increase as restrictions are relaxed so, as a multi-agency partnership, we will continue to work extremely closely together to monitor the situation, respond where necessary and offer advice to the public. If necessary, we will escalate the Major Incident once more.”
The group said the decision had been taken due to local infection rates falling and the fact the NHS is not currently under any undue pressures.
While the stand down is reflective of the position across West Yorkshire, there are some local variations, as detailed below.
Calderdale: All cases are the Kent variant, which spreads more easily, so residents are advised to take great care when out and about. People are also urged to limit mixing with others, wear a face covering and self-isolate when necessary.
Tyron Joyce, co-chair of West Yorkshire Prepared and assistant chief constable of West Yorkshire Police, said: “The Covid-19 rates in West Yorkshire continue to fall, which is thanks to the efforts of the majority of the public, who have done all they can to reduce the spread of infection. This means we have been able to take the decision to downgrade the alert level in our region, but we still need to remain cautious and vigilant.
“Cases in our region remain higher than the national average, so we must all continue to follow the rules – keep your distance from those not in your household or support bubble, only meet friends and family outside, wear a face covering where required and keep washing your hands frequently.”