Northamptonshire's health chiefs 'strongly recommend' return of face masks in shops, public transport and entertainment venues
and live on Freeview channel 276
Health chiefs in Northamptonshire are "strongly recommending" a return to covering faces in crowded areas indoors as Covid-19 cases rise.
The number of Covid patients in Northampton and Kettering hospitals rose close to 200 last week and there are warnings cases could rise further during the holiday season.
Sally Burns, West Northants' interim public health director, admits the advice on wearing masks in places such as shops, public transport and entertainment venues is “not likely to be popular”.
But she added: “Although we are in period of Living Safely with Covid we do need to take sensible precautions.
“We have a duty to advise Northamptonshire residents of these measures, including a strong recommendation to return to mask wearing for those who have stopped doing so in all crowded places where distance cannot be easily kept.
“We believe that this is sensible and proportionate and hope that Northamptonshire residents can understand and support this stance.”
Government and NHS England switched to releasing Covid data weekly instead of daily on May 1.
Latest figures showed 14 people sadly died while being treated for the virus in county hospitals in the week to July 20 while 183 Covid patients were in hospital on July 19 compared to just 19 less than two months earlier on May 25.
Earlier this month, patients, visitors and staff were told to wear masks in both the county's acute hospitals in a bid to protect patients and help control staff sickness rates.
That is being rapidly extended across all NHS hospitals, GP practices, dentists and other health settings across Northamptonshire.
But experts are also warning increased mixing during summer holidays is likely translate into additional Covid-19 cases when the virus is already in high circulation.
Ms Burns added: “This means that when outbreaks occur now — and they are increasing — they are generally driven by cases originally in the community.”