Calls for Suffolk and Essex to remain in Tier 1 post-lockdown
- Credit: Archant
Leaders have called for Suffolk and Essex to be placed under the lowest form of restrictions when the coronavirus lockdown ends next week.
The three-tier system of Covid-19 measures is set to be reintroduced in England from December 2, though the government has said the measures will be strengthened.
The allocation of tiers will be dependent on an area’s coronavirus infection rate, case numbers and pressures on local NHS services.
It is expected that the country will be divided into regions, not counties, and the tiers will be decided on Thursday.
Dr Dan Poulter, MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, believes the county’s “very rapid action” at containing Covid-19 outbreaks and its low infection rate means it should not face harsh restrictions.
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He said: “My view is that we, certainly Suffolk, should be in tier one when we come out of lockdown. We’ve seen consistently that our districts have seen the lowest infection rates,
“I would be very surprised if we were not in tier one, looking at the evidence. I am hopeful and cautiously optimistic.”
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Waveney MP Peter Aldous raised concerns that hospital admissions had begun to rise - albeit “from a low level” - but expressed hope that Suffolk would return to the lowest tier post-lockdown.
He said: “I hope that this lockdown has served its purpose and been effective and we would return to tier one.”
Sir Bernard Jenkin, MP for Harwich and North Essex, added: “I will be arguing for tier one, supported by vigorous ‘backwards tracing’ of super-spreaders by local councils.
“Local councils should also be organising community hubs to support people who must self-isolate. Local action will support greater compliance.”
Business leaders have expressed concern that outbreaks of coronavirus could mean the region is placed into a higher tier - with many firms facing an anxious wait.
Paul Simon, head of communications and campaigns at the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, said: “Businesses in Suffolk will be hoping for the best, but planning for the not-so-good or even the worst.
“Although Suffolk overall remains a lower-than-average Covid area, there have been hyperlocal spikes that remain causes of concern.
“The key to restoring business confidence and restarting the economy lies in the early delivery of both a rapid turnaround test and trace system and the effective rollout of vaccines.”
David Burch, director of policy at Essex Chambers of Commerce, added: “Business will be hoping they go into the lowest tier. We’ve seen the number of Covid cases coming down.
“Businesses feel it is going in the right direction. The government needs to recognise the business community has been behaving responsibly.”
Mark Cordell, chief executive of the Our Bury St Edmunds Business Improvement District group, added: “My view is that Suffolk should definitely be in tier one. Anything other than that would be a huge kick in the teeth.
“I’m not suggesting taking any outlandish risks, but how can they justify putting us in a higher tier?”