CHESHIRE West and Chester Council is urging residents to continue following Covid restrictions after July 19 as rates of infection continue to rise.

Up to July 7, the borough has an infection rate of 334 per 100,000 people – a 25 per cent increase from the previous week, and the rates are continuing to rise.

The rates are highest in the 20-29 age range and Cheshire West is now seeing more people (currently more than 60 admissions) requiring treatment for coronavirus in hospital.

In a statement, the council said: "In the light of rising Covid-19 infections locally and changes to the national Covid-19 restrictions, we are asking those living, working and visiting Cheshire West and Chester, to go above and beyond the minimum guidance required.

"Our advice will also support the recovery of our businesses and the wider economy, as increased transmission of the virus will result in major disruptions if staff are unable to work due to being unwell with Covid-19 and legally required to self-isolate.

"We are asking everyone not to see the July 19 as a reason to stop all the good practices that have helped to reduce the spread of the virus and which have protected our communities and loved ones over the past 16 months, especially when in close contact with others.

"The hugely successful mass vaccination programme has weakened the link between infection, the risk of hospitalisation and loss of life.

"This is incredibly encouraging, but unfortunately it is not the end of the story.

"It is clear that a massive rise in infections will impact on our unvaccinated children and teenagers and those who have not been vaccinated, either due to personal choice or another medical reason.

"We have seen a tremendous uptake of our vaccine programme so far, with 84 per cent of eligible adults now having their first dose, and 66 per cent having their second dose.

"We will continue to make getting your vaccine as easy as possible, taking it to areas of the lowest uptake and encouraging people to have their vital second dose.

"A very real danger of significant continued transmission is the risk of yet another mutation of the virus that is both easier to catch and could render our current vaccines powerless, essentially taking us back to square one.

"This is something that is constantly being monitored and makes it doubly important that we continue the good behaviours.

"The people of west Cheshire have pulled together through all stages of the pandemic to look after and protect each other. It is vital that we keep this up as we go forward."

People living, visiting and working in Cheshire West and Chester are advised to:

• Get fully vaccinated.

• Be kind and considerate of others who may be feeling extremely nervous about the further lifting of restrictions.

• Continue wearing face coverings in crowded indoor areas where social distancing cannot be followed, such as supermarkets and on public transport, in health and social care settings, such as hospitals, care homes and GP surgeries, and where it would make others feel more comfortable.

• Continue social distancing by not unnecessarily being in crowded areas and continuing to work from home if possible.

• Try to meet others outside where possible.

• Continue to practice good hand hygiene, in particular hand washing.

• Keep getting tested – everyone should undertake twice weekly rapid symptom free testing using Lateral Flow Tests (LFT). If people experience generally associated symptoms such as a headache, a stuffed or runny nose, tiredness or weakness, aches and pains, sore throat or diarrhoea, they should take an LFT and follow up with a PCR test if the LFT test is positive. If people have any of the main symptoms of Covid-19 such as a high temperature, a new continuous cough or loss or change to their sense of smell or taste they must stay at home and book a PCR test.

• Self-isolate if you have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19, especially if you work in a high-risk setting.

Businesses and workplaces in Cheshire West and Chester are also asked to:

• Continue to adhere to Covid-19 working safely guidance, including provision of washing facilities and proper ventilation with external fresh air.

• Continue to engage with the Test, Trace and Isolate process, and increase testing if your workplace has had an outbreak.

• Encourage your employees to get tested if they suspect they have Covid-19 symptoms and self-isolate if positive.

• Encourage your employees to have both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine when it is offered.