"Remember the NHS staff you've been clapping for."
That is the message from health service bosses as pubs prepare to open for the first time in more than three months.
Senior figures at Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group have asked the public not to throw away the recent progress made in tackling coronavirus by becoming complacent on the first weekend of reduced lockdown restrictions.
The plea for a sensible approach comes ahead of what is expected to be a busy weekend for local urgent and emergency care services, many of which are anticipating a rise in alcohol-related activity.
Dr Stephen Haig, Consultant in Emergency Medicine and Associate Medical Director at Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, was among those spearheading the appeal for calm.
He said: “We are working in a different way now to maintain social distancing and reduce the risk of infection, so we really want to avoid crowded emergency departments.
“By drinking so much alcohol that you need emergency care, you are potentially taking NHS resources away from other patients who are very sick.
“Please look after yourself and remember the NHS staff you’ve been clapping for."
Clinical Commissioning Group chief executive Tracey Cox said: “This is not about spoiling the party for people who have been stuck inside for so long, but about urging people to continue being mindful of the situation we are still very much in.
“Yes, the number of coronavirus cases in our region has thankfully remained low in recent weeks, but that has not come about by chance, but by us all working together and staying alert to the risks around us.
“Nobody wants to see a return to where we were in March and April, not least the thousands of health and care staff in our region who have seen first-hand just how destructive and relentless this virus can be.”
Emergency care services across the region will be open for those who need urgent help this weekend.
This includes the emergency departments at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon, the Royal United Hospital in Bath and Salisbury District Hospital.
NHS 111 online, available at www.111.nhs.uk, can also be used by any person looking for quick healthcare advice or information about how to use local services.
Some pharmacies will be open for people needing help with minor injury and illness, and those looking for information on medicines and repeat prescriptions.
More information about local healthcare services, as well as detailed information on what to do when displaying symptoms of coronavirus, can be found online at www.bswccg.nhs.uk.