'Resolution' needed to avoid Christmas lockdown amid second wave in Scarborough

Cases in Scarborough have surged over the autumn Credit: PA

Residents in Scarborough and North Yorkshire have been urged to show 'resolution' to avoid a lockdown over Christmas.

The infection rate in the coastal town has surged in recent months, from 37 cases in every 100,000 people in September to 526 cases per 100,000 this week, prompting a door-to-door campaign by police and the local council urging people to stay at home.

At a meeting of the North Yorkshire Resilience Forum today, the council's director of health Richard Webb said that the county needed to pull together before the festive period.

He said there was a need for "resolution and determination to keep to the rules, to reduce the spread of infection and give us the best chance for some kind of normal Christmas".

What we want is a Christmas cracker rather than a Christmas lockdown

Richard Webb, Harrogate Borough Council

Dr Lincoln Sargeant, North Yorkshire's director of Public Health, told the meeting the coast had seen an "exponential growth" in coronavirus infections, amid a worrying list of statistics:

  • In one month Scarborough borough went from having just 11 cases a week to 572

  • At one point last week, Scarborough's infection rate was second highest in the country, just behind that of Hull

  • The number of Covid-19 patients in Scarborough Hospital has increased by 13 in the last seven days to 62

Meanwhile, Dr Sargent told Calendar that even a vaccine is unlikely to mean an immediate return to normality.

Are tourists to blame for the rise in infections?

On Monday, Whitby Town Council released a statement saying the local infection rate had been "climbing steadily since the massive influx of visitors at the end of October".

But Dr Sargeant said that there was "no evidence" to support this claim.

He said: "We can't find any information that points the finger definitely at visitors.

"Clearly, if you have people travelling in from higher areas of infection and interacting with locals there is always the possibility that you will get a few cases that way.

"But what we found when we looked at all the new cases was that only about half of them had any link to a particular setting, there was only a small number linked to leisure or tourism venues. Even in those ones we were finding it was predominately staff who had household contacts who were infected.

"We haven't found evidence across the county of customers in our hotels or leisure settings who have been infected in that contact. I'm not saying that it can't have happened just that we see no evidence of it in the investigations that we have done."