Nottingham and three neighbouring boroughs ‘WILL enter Tier Three’ this week as Warrington gets set to be hit by the toughest coronavirus restrictions from tomorrow
- Nottingham City, Gedling, Broxtowe and Rushcliffe will be the next parts of England to go into Tier Three
- It means pubs and bars have to close unless they serve meals, while people are banned from mixing houses
- MPs say an agreement was signed without clear information on the financial support available
- Officials said Warrington in Cheshire would join the growing list of areas living in Tier Three from Tuesday
Nearly 700,000 people living in parts of Nottinghamshire could be forced into a Tier Three coronavirus lockdown in the coming days amid claims the toughest rules will be enforced in Warrington from tomorrow in a desperate attempt to crack down on rising cases.
Local MPs say Nottingham City, Gedling, Broxtowe and Rushcliffe — home to around 680,000 people — will be the next parts of England to be hit with the toughest restrictions.
Lilian Greenwood, Labour’s representative for Nottingham South, admitted it was ‘clear’ that the four boroughs will ‘definitely’ be going into Tier Three. It will mean pubs and bars have to close unless they serve meals, while people are banned from mixing indoors or in private gardens and beer gardens.
Currently more than 7million people in England are currently living under the toughest Covid-19 curbs, including Liverpool, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and swathes of South Yorkshire. A further 19.6million are living in Tier Two, which bans people from seeing their friends and family indoors.
Officials said Warrington in Cheshire — which is home to around 210,000 people — would join the growing list of areas living in Tier Three from Thursday, after council leaders agreed to a £6million support package from the Government.
Local bosses warned cases were ‘stubbornly high’ and that the tougher action was ‘necessary and proportionate’. But Warrington Council has now claimed the date was moved forward to tomorrow to ‘urgently bring down the number of cases’.
MPs in Nottinghamshire have yet to agree on financial support to go alongside the tightened restrictions, even though talks about slapping parts of the county with heightened measures first began last week. Discussions were carried out throughout the weekend.
Labour’s MP for Nottingham East, Nadia Whittome, claimed that local officials have been asked to sign last-minute agreements about entering Tier Three without any clear information about how much funding they will receive to protect jobs and businesses.
It comes as Matt Hancock today said areas would have to prove their infection rate was ‘coming down’, especially among over-60s, before they could be removed from the strictest measures. The Health Secretary also refused to rule out bringing in a tougher set of Tier Four impositions, following reports another level is being considered to tackle England’s rise in infections.
NOTTINGHAM CITY: Department of Health statistics show how the number of Covid-19 cases diagnosed in Nottingham each day has been dropping since the start of the month. The figures relate to specimen date, which is when the sample was taken — not when it was recorded as being positive. For this reason, the numbers lag by a few days
GEDLING: Daily infections appear to be stable in Gedling, a borough of Nottinghamshire that is home to around 120,000 people. Cases spiked at the end of September and continued rising rapidly until roughly a fortnight ago
BROXTOWE: Infections also appear to have stabilised in Broxtowe, another borough of Nottinghamshire that locals say will be hit by the toughest Tier Three restrictions
RUSHCLIFFE: Cases in Rushcliffe also appear to have stabilised. It has been reported that the other parts of Nottinghamshire — Ashfield, Mansfield, Newark and Sherwood and Bassetlaw — will remain in Tier Two
WHAT ARE THE RULES IN DIFFERENT TIERS OF LOCKDOWN?
Tier one restrictions mirror those already in place across England.
These include the rule of six, a 10pm curfew, group sport to be played outdoors only and a maximum of 15 guests at wedding ceremonies.
Tier two restrictions mean people are prohibited from socialising with anybody outside their household or support bubble in any indoor setting
Two households may be allowed to meet in a private garden and public outdoor spaces, as long as the rule of six and social distancing are followed.
Tradespeople – such as plumbers and electricians – can continue to go into a household for work.
Restaurants can open, but only until 10pm.
Pubs and bars will be ordered to close unless they also operate as a restaurant.
This definition extends to pubs which sell ‘substantial’ meals, which like restaurants will be allowed to stay open but only serve alcohol to people eating a meal.
Locals are advised only to leave their areas for essential travel such as work, education or health, and must return before the end of the day.
Overnight stays by those from outside of these ‘high risk’ areas are also be banned. Households are not be allowed to mix either indoors or outdoors.
Nottingham City Council said talks about Tier Three restrictions would resume today after conclusions were not made at the end of last week.
It comes after both local leaders in Gedling and MPs in the city criticised the Government’s lack of communication over proposed tighter restrictions last week, complaining they had not been invited into crucial talks.
An announcement is expected by Wednesday, but Lilian Greenwood, Labour MP for Nottingham South, said on Twitter ‘it’s clear that Nottingham city and those three boroughs will definitely be going into Tier 3’.
Speaking to Nottingham Post, she said: ‘I share the frustration of my constituents that, for over a week now, the Government have been saying that they want to put Nottingham and parts of Nottinghamshire into Tier 3.
‘And yet they didn’t even start having detailed discussions with the local councils until Thursday.
‘The expectation clearly was that there would be an announcement on Monday and new measures would be coming in on Wednesday. I don’t know what the sticking points are and why it’s really been delayed over the weekend.’
Nadia Whittome, Labour MP for Nottingham East, told the paper local leaders had ‘been asked to sign last-minute agreements’ without knowing what financial support would be available.
She said: ‘Nottingham City Council has already had to spend more than £30m from its own reserves to cover the cost of the pandemic.
‘After years of cuts, council budgets are already badly overstretched and this can’t go on for any longer.
‘The people of Nottingham also need reassurance that their jobs and businesses will be protected, that they will have enough money to live on if they fall ill or have to self-isolate, and that they won’t lose the roof over their heads.
‘My constituents want to follow the rules and help contain the virus but lockdowns only work if people have the financial security to be able to do so.’
Labour MP for Nottingham North, Alex Norris said: ‘If the Government believes Nottingham should be in Tier 3 then it’s time now for them to come up with the right package of support.’
It comes as the council for Warrington said on Saturday it would be moving to Tier Three as of Tuesday.
Its website says: ‘Warrington is currently defined as a “high risk” local COVID alert level (tier 2) but will move to “very high” risk (tier 3) on 00.01am on Tuesday 27 October.’
Initial discussions indicated that Warrington’s new restrictions could come into play from Thursday. But it was brought forward based ‘on the need to urgently bring down the number of cases of coronavirus in the town and protect hospital capacity’.
Leader of the Council, Cllr Russ Bowden, explained: ‘The decision for Warrington to enter tier 3 on Tuesday is the necessary and proportionate thing to do. We know that our case numbers in Warrington remain stubbornly high, but what is more concerning is the number of admissions into hospital.
‘The upsetting and grim reality is that there are more people in hospital, more people in intensive care beds and more people being taken by the virus, and we need to do all we can to try to bring this under control.’
It was revealed last week councillors had secured a £5.9million support package, with £1.68 million allocated to public health – including public protection, testing and enforcement – with a further £4.2million to be used for business and employment support.
The council for Warrington said on Saturday it would be moving to Tier Three as of Tuesday
Over the weekend, South Yorkshire became the latest region to come under the highest tier of controls following Liverpool City Region, Greater Manchester and Lancashire.
Asked about the criteria for an area to exit Tier Three, Mr Hancock told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘The first thing that’s most important is that the case rate has to be coming down, and in particular we look at the number of cases amongst the over-60s because that’s the number that is likely to translate into hospital admissions and sadly into deaths.’
Mr Hancock also suggested a vaccine would not provide an escape route from the social restrictions until next year.
Quizzed on Today about whether there would be some roll-out of a vaccine this year, he said: ‘Well, I don’t rule that out, but that is not my central expectation.
‘The vaccine programme is progressing well. The leading candidates we’re in very close contact with. On my central expectation, I would expect the bulk of the roll-out to be in the first half of next year.’
Amid the talks between councils and Government about escalating the tier levels in England, the Government has faced increasing criticism that the NHS Test and Trace service, which was supposed to be the key to controlling the disease, is failing.
Senior Conservative MP Sir Bernard Jenkin issued a call at the weekend for the head of the organisation — Tory peer Baroness Harding — to be sacked and replaced by a military commander.
He was backed by Labour which said that Lady Harding’s position had become ‘untenable’ after the latest weekly figures showed fewer than 60 per cent of the contacts of people testing positive for Covid-19 had been traced and told to self-isolate.
But Mr Hancock came to the Test and Trace tsar’s defence, telling BBC Breakfast she was ‘of course’ the right person for the job.
However, it has emerged that officials on the Covid-19 task-force are looking at the possibility of easing the rules for people ordered to self-isolate after coming into contact with someone who had tested positive for the disease because of low levels of stay-at-home compliance.
Ministers confirmed they were looking at reducing the time that people have to quarantine at home from 14 day to between 10 days and a week.
Scientists have publicly criticised the mooted change, arguing it would risk allowing infected people to mix with others.
Paul Hunter, professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia, told the Today programme: ‘Other things being equal, it would certainly increase the risk of transmission because the average incubation period for the disease is about five to six days, and only about 85-90 per cent of people by seven days will have actually developed ill.
‘So if you cut that incubation period what would happen is 10, maybe 15 per cent, of people who were infectious would ultimately (be) allowed to be back out in public.’
But Mr Hancock pointed to France as an example of where a similar measure had been introduced. He added: ‘So it isn’t about the compliance issue. It’s about the overall clinical judgment of what time is required for isolation.
‘Obviously I’d rather have isolation as short as is reasonably possible because of the impact it has on people’s lives, but it must be safe.’
Meanwhile, the Welsh Government has said it will review a controversial ban on supermarkets selling non-essential items during a two-week ‘firebreak’ lockdown which began on Friday.
Explaining the purpose of the review, Welsh Health Minister Vaughan Gething told Sky News: ‘We want the clarity on the principle that if there really are exceptional circumstances when someone needs what would otherwise be a non-essential item, that can happen as well.’