COUNTY Durham residents are being urged to stay safe and stay local to prevent coronavirus infection rates rising over the Easter holidays.

Since March 29, residents have been allowed to mix outdoors and in private gardens in groups of six or as two households.

Following this change in restrictions, people are being reminded to follow current guidance to prevent an increase in coronavirus infection rates, which could affect the possibility of further rules being relaxed from April 12.

If meeting other people over the Bank Holiday and Easter break, people are advised to only meet outdoors in line with the restrictions, wash hands regularly, wear face coverings, and practice social distancing at all times.

Residents are also being encouraged to consider how busy the county’s beaches, countryside, and popular beauty spots will be over the Bank Holiday weekend and are advised to stay local and stick to areas where there will be less people.

By following these guidelines, residents can ensure that the next steps of the government’s roadmap will be taken which will see further restrictions relax from 12 April, including the reopening of hair salons, leisure facilities, and outdoor seating at pubs and restaurants.

Amanda Healy, Durham County Council’s director of public health, said: “Thanks to the hard work of all of our residents in protecting themselves and others, we have been able to see lockdown restrictions ease and can now enjoy seeing friends and family outdoors.

“With the upcoming Bank Holiday and Easter break, it can be tempting to meet lots of people and travel to popular areas in the county, such as beaches and beauty spots. I would like to remind people of the importance of following public health guidance when meeting outdoors and going to public spaces, to stop infection rates increasing.

“We have all gone to great lengths to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our most vulnerable over the last few months in lockdown. It is vital that we continue to follow the rules and guidance to stop further spread of coronavirus, which would undo everyone’s extraordinary efforts since the beginning of lockdown and could stop any future easing of restrictions.”

More information and advice about the coronavirus pandemic can be found at www.durham.gov.uk/coronavirus