The group overseeing Cumbria’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic will formally stand down.
The Cumbria Strategic Co-ordination Group, chaired by Assistant Chief Constable Andy Slattery has met more than 100 times since last March and involved up to 40 organisations.
It will now hand over to the Strategic Recovery Co-ordination Group, chaired by the chief executive of Cumbria County Council, Katherine Fairclough.
A statement from the group said: “While the COVID-19 pandemic is by no means over, the time is right to move from an emphasis on the emergency response to the virus to dealing with the longer-term impact of the pandemic.”
Mr Slattery paid tribute to the work of the Strategic Co-ordination Group.
He said: “On behalf of all the emergency response agencies in Cumbria I would like to express my sincere sympathies to all those who have lost loved ones over the last 12 months and to those living with the debilitating effects of serious illness.
“In March last year we were forced to quickly plan for the very worst-case scenarios and, whilst the outcome has not been as terrible as it may have been, the impact of this pandemic on Cumbria has been wide-ranging and profound.
“Typically, the Strategic Co-ordination Group for a major incident will sit regularly for only a few days before the threat subsides and communities move to recovery.
“This year the group has met constantly for over 12 months and had to respond to changing levels of infection, changing government measures and new and emerging responsibilities and tasks.
“Throughout this long and testing period, the partners have worked impressively by giving people, time and resources freely in the interests of protecting the communities of Cumbria.
“This has been hard for them both personally and professionally but the mutual support between agencies has been invaluable and I would like to thank each and every person who has been involved.
“This pandemic is not over and we will all continue to play our part in protecting our communities but it is right that we now begin to deal with COVID-19 as a long-term health problem and place greater focus on recovery and renewal.”
Work on recovery began in the summer of 2020 and alongside the ongoing response, partners have developed a recovery strategy for Cumbria which is currently available for feedback as part of a public consultation.
Mrs Fairclough said: “The Strategic Co-ordination Group has played a critical role over the last year and I’d like to thank all the agencies involved for the contribution they have made to support the county.
“COVID-19 is still a very significant risk and we can’t let down our guard, people must continue to follow the rules, particularly around social contact. we’re now entering a new phase that is focused on how we live with the virus, restart our and begin to recover from the impacts of the pandemic, which will take some considerable time.
“That’s a complex task and the Cumbria Recovery Strategy sets out how we are approaching this. We are currently inviting feedback on the strategy, and I would encourage people to share their views.”