Please stay cautious, says Kirklees Council Leader as lockdown measures are eased this weekend.

Kirklees Council Leader, Councillor Shabir Pandor, is advising people to stay cautious and vigilant as lockdown eases on Saturday 4 July.

Councillor Pandor said: “This weekend is set to be a milestone in our country’s fight against COVID-19. With restaurants, pubs and hairdressers set to re-open alongside our retailers, it feels like we are moving into a new phase of the pandemic.

“The council is responding quickly to the new national guidance. Over the next few days and weeks, residents will also be able to start using sports pitches again, children will be able to have fun in our playgrounds and bowling greens will welcome players once more.

“At the same time as we welcome the return of many aspects of everyday life, news from other parts of the country shows just how fragile the situation is. We are not out of the woods yet. I’ve always said that the safety of local people has to come first and it’s clear that we all need to maintain caution and vigilance. Too many people have died, lost loved ones or made huge sacrifices for us to rush back to normal without thinking of the consequences. The danger is still there, the virus is extremely potent and highly dangerous and will take lives.

“The council is taking a considered approach as we reintroduce more of the services local people really value. We need to think about how we can bring back services that keep people safe but we’re more ambitious than that. We need to challenge ourselves to deliver services that are better than they were in March. Councillors will shortly be looking at services in every part of Kirklees to see how we can restart them in ways that meet local needs as well as being accessible to as many people as possible.

“Council services are just one piece of jigsaw for Kirklees’ recovery. We need to support businesses so that our economy can bounce back more strongly and be more inclusive than it was before. We will host a series of online conferences over the coming days to help business navigate their new environment and we will support them in making changes and accessing the help they need to survive and thrive. It’s just the start of a recovery that improves lives and livelihoods, especially for people who didn’t get a fair deal before and who have suffered most from this crisis. Once we get through this phase the next step will be to try and restore the lifestyles we have been used to.

“Community, voluntary and faith organisations are the backbone of our society in Kirklees. We wouldn’t have got this far through the crisis without their hard work, dedication and commitment in helping and serving their communities.

“We will also be opening up a conversation about how we can support volunteers and community groups to reintroduce the facilities and amenities that often support the most vulnerable in our communities. When the crisis hit, local people and communities were there for each other. We want to help them carry on that work and recognise their immense contribution to our way of life.

“Our recovery from COVID-19 will be more important than the immediate crisis. It will affect more lives and livelihoods in more long-lasting ways. We need to get it right. As we cautiously move into this new phase, the council will be working with people, businesses and organisations across Kirklees to lay the foundations for a recovery that means we come back stronger.”

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