CHESHIRE East Council is urging children and families to stay safe over half term and not visit or mix with other households in order to contain the spread of coronavirus.

The council recognises that the current lockdown is tough for everyone and that many children will want to go out and see friends during the holidays.

Staying at home as much as possible remains the best way to protect loved ones and vulnerable people.

Abiding by the restrictions will reduce the risk of infection after half term and put Cheshire East in the best possible position for schools and colleges to start to reopen from March 8.

The lockdown measures, continue to be in place and mean people must stay at home except to:

• Take exercise locally, once a day, with up to one other person outside their home;

• Meet their support bubble or childcare bubble, where necessary;

• Shop for basics such as food;

• Work, if they cannot reasonably do so from home;

• Attend childcare for those eligible; and

• To escape domestic abuse.

Necessary childcare support is also available for key worker parents. If you live in a household with anyone aged under 14, you can form a ‘childcare bubble’.

This allows friends or family from one other household to provide informal childcare and must not be used to enable social contact between adults.

Residents are asked to remember the basics of washing hands regularly, wearing a face covering if needed and keeping a social distance when outdoors.

Sticking to the rules (even if vaccinated) means others continue to be protected and helps to keep the virus from spreading.

Councillor Kathryn Flavell, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for children and families, said: "We continue to support all our early years settings, schools and colleges with rapid testing and infection control measures to reduce risks of transmission.

"The sacrifice of staying home these past few weeks is starting to pay off with the number of cases falling, but we should remain vigilant to ensure that this continues.

"During half term, I urge all families and pupils to consider their social interactions during the holidays and comply with the current lockdown restrictions.

"If you do develop any symptoms of coronavirus no matter how mild, you and your household must self-isolate immediately and please don’t come back into school until you’ve been tested.

"Please help us to minimise further possible cases after half term and ensure that we are in the best position to start to reopen schools and colleges from 8 March."

Matt Tyrer, Cheshire East Council’s director of public health, said: "Our latest figures show we are still seeing between five to six hundred people a week being infected by Covid-19, with the potential for new variants to increase transmission.

"Around one in three people who get infected do not show symptoms and so can unknowingly pass on the virus. I urge everyone to follow the lockdown restrictions by staying at home and remembering ‘hands, face, space’."