PUBLIC health bosses across the region have warned the introduction of "Stay Local" rules is just an "early step" in the easing of lockdown restrictions.

The directors of public health across County Durham and Darlington have urged residents to to continue following measures to ensure the roadmap remains on track.

This comes as some restrictions on who people can meet were further lifted on Monday, with the rule-of-six in any outdoor space making a return. 

Speaking to The Northern Echo, Amanda Healy, Durham County Council’s Director of Public Health, said it remained "vital" residents continue following rules.

She said : “Today’s easing of restrictions is the positive result of everyone’s hard work to reduce the transmission of coronavirus.

"Residents have gone to remarkable lengths to protect themselves, their loved ones and our most vulnerable, and we are truly grateful for the way in which communities have united to support each other through the restrictions.

“While many will be delighted that they can once again see friends and family under the specific circumstances outlined in the easing of restrictions, I would urge everyone to continue following public health guidance, such as practicing social distancing, when meeting others.

"It is vital that we follow the rules that are still in place and continue to look after each other to avoid undoing everyone’s extraordinary efforts to stop the spread of the virus.”

Meanwhile in Darlington, Penny Spring, Director of Public Health at Darlington Borough Council said each person "has a role to play," in the easing of further measures.

SEE MORE: How Durham, Darlington and the North-East looked on first day of 'Stay Local'

She said: “I would urge people to be mindful that this is only a very early step in what we all hope will be an irreversible easing of the lockdown rules.

"It is good news that people are now able to meet up in outside groups of six, and the continued success of the vaccine roll-out brings even more cause for optimism.

"However, we each have a role to play in ensuring that further steps are able to be taken in line with the government’s roadmap.

"Please continue to follow the rules – including social distancing and wearing a face covering over your nose and mouth where appropriate.

"We’ve come so far together – let’s keep going.”