BLEAK warnings have been issued that thousands of people living on the North Yorkshire coast are heading towards Tier 3 restrictions unless everyone takes rapid action to stop the spread of Covid-19 ahead of Christmas.

Appeals are being made directly to everyone living in the Whitby and Scarborough area to play their part in the drive to avoid a New Year spike in Covid-19 cases, similar to one seen locally in November.

Infection rates have risen from 132 per 100,000 to 214 per 100,000 since the national lockdown was lifted three weeks ago.

Health leaders say if the increases continue at the same pace, the area will face Tier 3 restrictions, causing disruption for the community, NHS and care services and the local economy.

They have revealed transmission within households remains the biggest factor in the number of cases and as Christmas approaches people are urged to think carefully before meeting family or friends.

Richard Webb, North Yorkshire County Council’s Director of Health and Adult Services, said: "We know the great efforts and sacrifices so many people have made over the past nine months to keep themselves and others safe. Let’s make sure those efforts are not in vain.

"The vast majority of people are following the rules, and we thank you for that. It is a minority that is not doing so and is letting down everyone else and putting themselves and others at risk.

"Your actions now and over the holiday period will have a major impact on our way of life and could put extra strain on our local hospitals and GPs, at what is already the busiest time of the year. No-one wants to give or receive coronavirus for Christmas, so if you do decide to meet friends and family over Christmas, keep contact to a minimum, and start by reducing your social contacts now.

"A third wave of the pandemic and tougher restrictions are not inevitable. We can all take action now. Please follow the rules, avoid household mixing, limit social contacts, wash your hands and wear face coverings."

Nick Edwards, Scarborough Borough Council Director, said: "We know more people are out and about getting ready for Christmas but that isn’t a reason to bend the rules. When communities pull together it has a really positive effect so we’re asking for the same effort again to avoid more severe restrictions in the New Year."