Organisations within West Yorkshire Prepared, the region’s Local Resilience Forum, have joined forces with West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) and West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership (WY&H HCP) to appeal to the public to be safe, think about others and continue following the guidance over the festive period.

With an increase in people visiting city centres to do their Christmas shopping, and a rise in passengers on public transport – coupled with increased pressures on health and care services – all five West Yorkshire Local Authorities, together with care services and WYCA, are stressing the importance of considering the consequences of your actions this Christmas and how they might affect the delivery of local services.

Rob Webster, CEO Lead for WY&H HCP, said: “When Covid-19 rates increase, this places demand and pressure on health and care services, including those delivered by Voluntary Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) partners, during one of the busiest times of year for colleagues. Please do consider how to stay safe and not take unnecessary risks – Covid-19 thrives on complacency and human contact. It is disappointing to be unable to celebrate this festive season as we usually would but there are alternative ways to keep in touch within the guidance. Not doing so could cost lives.”

With Christmas fast approaching, a lot of people will be looking forward to relaxing, having some time off and perhaps enjoying spending some time with family and friends in their Christmas bubble. However, it is being asked that people please be patient, respectful and mindful of others at this very busy time as demands on local services are much higher than normal.

Cllr Kim Groves, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee, said: “Public transport is available for those who need it but capacity remains limited to maintain social distancing. Working with our partners in the West Yorkshire Bus Alliance we have added capacity information to display screens so people know how full buses are before they arrive.

“We know people want to enjoy Christmas shopping and support their town and city centres. To make sure everyone has a happy Christmas, we are reminding people using public transport to keep following social distancing rules, wear a face covering and be considerate to other passengers and our frontline staff, who have done an amazing job through this crisis. It is even more important to check travel information before you travel and to leave plenty of time for your journey.”

Local Authorities have also put extra measures in place, such as the introduction of street marshals to offer advice and guidance to people, in addition to one-way systems and widened pathways already established in many city centres.

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, Bradford Council’s Executive Member for Regeneration, Planning and Transport, said: “It’s vital that people show their support for our local businesses by shopping local, and safely, over this festive season. I encourage everyone to give gifts that give twice – once to loved ones and a second time to protect local jobs and businesses. We all need to double our efforts to ensure this is done safely. It may take a little bit more time and effort, but following all the COVID-safe guidance will reduce infections, hospitalisations and deaths.”

If visiting a town/city centre, please remember the following:

Wear a face covering, where applicable, keep 2 metres distance from others not in your household/support bubble, regularly wash your hands or use hand sanitiser. Do not meet with friends or family indoors in any setting – this includes shops – unless they are part of your household/support bubble. Where you can, plan your shopping times at quieter times and check shop opening times

A great deal of progress has been made over the last few months to bring the Covid-19 rates down in West Yorkshire, and everybody needs to continue playing their part to ensure everyone in the region has a happy festive period and enjoys a healthy start to 2021.