Martin Ford 17 December 2020

'Bitter disappointment' greets tiers review

Millions more people are facing tougher restrictions from this weekend in an effort to curb a rise in COVID-19 cases in the east and south-east of England.

Tier three restrictions will be imposed from Saturday on Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, all of Hertfordshire, Peterborough, all of Surrey apart from Waverley, Hastings and Rother, Portsmouth, Gosport and Havant.

Health secretary Matt Hancock told the House of Commons today that cases had risen by 46% in the south-east in the last week, with hospital admissions up by a third.

In the east of England, cases were up by two-thirds and hospital admissions by a half.

Mr Hancock said: ‘It’s therefore necessary to apply tier three measures across a much wider area of the east and south-east of England.’

Cllr Sian Timoney, deputy leader of Luton BC, where tier three restrictions will now be introduced, questioned the basis of the rules.

She said: ‘Our local evidence shows us that hospitality is not a driver of transmission in Luton and we are worried that their forced closures will lead to more social mixing in private residences, where this is often of a longer duration, less well-ventilated and less likely to be detected and challenged.’

The changes reflect a more localised approach than was applied two weeks ago amid much criticism from local leaders and backbench MPs.

Mr Hancock said the number of cases in other areas in tier three had reduced, but were ‘not quite there yet’ to change tiers.

For more on this story, visit The MJ.

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