North Yorkshire residents are being urged not to hold Bonfire Night parties at home as we all work together to reduce Covid-19 cases in the county.

This comes as many organised fireworks events in the county are cancelled because of the pandemic. But that doesn’t mean Bonfire Night has to be a damp squib.

North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum (NYLRF), which brings together councils, emergency services and health organisations to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic, has published guidance for event organisers, including villages and parish bodies, which may want to host a Covid-secure event.

The NYLRF is also urging people to consider alternatives to make the evening special and help people to follow the rule of six and other safety measures.

Director of Public Health for North Yorkshire, Dr Lincoln Sargeant, said: “The collective effort of people in North Yorkshire has meant that previously surging infection rates appear to be slowing recently and local outbreaks are being managed. This is excellent work and reflects the significant efforts being made individually and as communities; but we are not out of the woods.

“We need people to remain vigilant and follow the rules on social distancing, hand washing, use of face coverings and limiting the number of people with whom they socialise that apply where they live.

“For Bonfire Night, we would strongly discourage people from holding events in their gardens. Instead, they should look for well-organised events that are Covid-secure or consider alternatives to enjoy the night in a safe way.

“We know that the most difficult area for us to tackle is the spread of infection within households and through social interactions, as that is responsible for the majority of the spread of the virus in North Yorkshire.”

Richard Flinton, Chair of NYLRF, added: “We are keen to get the balance right between protecting people from the spread of Covid-19 and enabling them still to enjoy themselves.”

Alternatives to bonfires and fireworks on 5 November include:

  • Make your own Guy and display him on your doorstep. Perhaps arrange a competition with your neighbours to find the best Guy.
  • Watch the skies. If the weather allows, try stargazing and enjoy the natural lights show in the night sky.
  • Get cooking. Make firework and bonfire-inspired snacks, such as biscuits iced with firework-like explosions of colour or cupcakes decorated to look like bonfires. Or toast marshmallows on your open fire, if you have one. And don’t forget the sticky parkin and warming hot chocolate.
  • Be crafty: Try fireworks arts and crafts, such as making a toilet roll holder rocket, creating colourful firework paintings or collecting autumn leaves to make a firework collage.
  • Relive the spectacular New Year firework displays in London on the BBC iPlayer.
  • Go outside and enjoy the changing seasons and crisp autumn weather. Why not wrap up and take a picnic?

Any organiser who decides to hold a firework display, should plan carefully and must follow the rule of six and other Covid-19 safety measures.

Full guidance for event organisers, including a series of principles all organisers should consider to ensure they hold a Covid-19 secure event, can be downloaded.

The rules anyone organising a Bonfire Night event needs to follow are:

  • manage crowd density at the bonfire event site to maintain current social distancing;
  • manage queues effectively throughout the bonfire event;
  • ensure the use of face coverings within national guidance;
  • have in place enhanced cleaning, and hand hygiene procedures for event staff and those attending, sufficient for the projected numbers;
  • manage waste, including face mask and PPE disposal;
  • be able to identify, report and respond to suspected or confirmed Covid-19 cases;
  • appoint a Covid-19 officer for the event; and
  • calculate visitor projections relative to the site used for the bonfire event.

Anyone attending a bonfire event should remember:

  • don’t gather around a bonfire in groups of more than six; and
  • don’t share food between households – take your own.

Anyone holding a firework display must also follow the Firework Code. Find advice from North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service.