Peterborough City Council and Cambridgeshire County Council will also be using a “hard-hitting” campaign to remind young people “quite starkly” that the pandemic still poses a risk and to follow the guidance.
The head of communications for the councils, Christine Birchall, told the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Local Outbreak Engagement Board on Friday (September 11), that research suggests a more tailored approach is required to appeal to 18 to 30-year-olds.
She said: “The strong message and the feedback we have got from other campaigns targeting this age group is that we are not concentrating at the moment on death and serious illness because it is not being experienced by this group, and also large numbers of these groups do not live near their elderly relatives.
“So the messages which I think have been used quite successfully elsewhere in the country about not taking this home to your elderly relatives doesn’t really play well when you have got students who are not probably going to see their elderly relatives until Christmas.
“Our message is very much about not wanting to return to a local lockdown, not wanting to have freedoms curtailed, wanting to get back as fast as possible to a more normal life.”
She said some of the messages are “a bit stark because the rise has been a bit stark, and we need to do something quite hard-hitting”.
In a video released on social media, the director of public health for Cambridgeshire, Dr Liz Robin, said on Tuesday (September 15) that “rates of coronavirus are rising again nationally and locally”.
In the week August 31 to September 6, there were 6.1 confirmed cases per 100,000 in the Cambridgeshire County Council area. But the rates are higher in the cities – in the same week, there were 15.2 confirmed cases per 100,000 in Cambridge and 24.7 cases per 100,000 in Peterborough.
In the same week there were 24.4 confirmed cases per 100,000 across England.
The county council said earlier this week that the rate of infection in the 18 to 30 age group goes up and down from day to day, but that there is a longer-term trend of rising infection numbers in this age group.
The councils have been running ongoing public awareness campaigns reinforcing government guidance and encouraging social distancing and good hand hygiene over the course of the pandemic.
Mrs Birchall told the committee last week that one initiative to communicate key public health messages is to create more relevant and shareable social media content for the under 30s.
She said the councils plan to use “actors who appear in things like Game of Thrones, and reality stars from things like Love Island, so people who this age group in particular will link with, and then we are working with a whole range of organisations who will be putting these sorts of messages from us out to social media in a way which is very shareable for this particular age group”.
The councils said they intend to use a publicly available online website where requests can be made to celebrities to record personal messages, which usually cost under £100.
The hope is these messages will then be supplemented by local influencers from the area’s sports and music scene, such as the Cambridge University boat racing team.
A campaign involving Peterborough footballers has been considered a success and has created messages that were widely shared.
They will also be working with the universities, as well as targeting messages on student nights such as Tuesdays and Fridays.