As all Plan B restrictions – on wearing face masks, working from home and using Covid passes – are relaxed from today, here’s a reminder of the Covid guidance under Plan A to help keep everyone safe.

The government guidance now is to:

• Get vaccinated against Covid to reduce your risk of being very poorly, or even hospitalised, should you catch the virus

• Use rapid lateral flow tests before mixing with people you wouldn’t normally meet or before meeting any vulnerable people

• Meet up outdoors where possible, or make sure indoor spaces are well ventilated if you’re mixing with anyone you don’t live with

• Consider wearing face coverings in crowded and busy places, on public transport, or around vulnerable people, to help prevent the spread of Covid

• Self-isolate if you test positive for Covid – some people can now reduce their self-isolation period to five full days if they get two consecutive negative results

• Stay at home if you feel unwell, particularly if you’re having symptoms that could be from coronavirus.

Coun Mohammed Khan, leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: “Many people feel positive about Plan B restrictions being relaxed this week, but it’s our duty to remind local residents of the Plan A guidance which is in place to protect us all.

“In 2022, we need to learn to live with coronavirus. Even without Plan B in place, this means following some sensible infection control measures, such as wearing face coverings in crowded places or around vulnerable people, and respecting other people’s choices around mask-wearing and social distancing.

“As we move forward, we appeal to everyone to treat other people with respect and kindness, and do whatever you can to protect them as well as yourself.”

Prof Dominic Harrison, Blackburn with Darwen’s Director of Public Health, has concerns about the timing of the relaxation of Plan B measures and urges local residents to continue to be on their guard.

Prof Harrison said: “In the Omicron variant wave, Blackburn with Darwen is around seven to 10 days behind London in terms of when cases started to rise and how they are now falling. This puts us, and other areas across England, in a very different situation to London as Plan B measures are relaxed.

“The government has deemed this the right time to relax these restrictions, however for our borough and other parts of Lancashire relaxing these restrictions now exposes us to risks while infections are still at a high level.

“There are a number of factors that put many Lancashire boroughs at a higher risk of the virus being spread – many residents leaving home to work in frontline jobs, and many large households with several generations living together.

“We all need to be on our guard as Plan B measures are relaxed, take sensible precautions and continue to protect ourselves and our loved ones.”

More details of the easing of Covid restrictions under Plan B can be found on the gov.uk website.