‘Inevitability’ about Suffolk ending up in ‘very high’ coronavirus tier, says council leader

David Ellesmere, leader of Ipswich Borough Council. Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

David Ellesmere, leader of Ipswich Borough Council. Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Three weeks ago, I wrote following the announcement of new measures by the government to curb the spread of coronavirus: “The government has not done enough to slow the spread of the second wave. It will have to impose further restrictions which will be harsher and will cause more damage to the economy than if it had been tougher now.”

It gives me no pleasure to have been proved correct.

It is now apparent that the government received clear advice from their scientific advisers at the time that they needed to do more, and quickly.

Instead, Boris Johnson dithered and, even now, has only put in place watered down measures.

This time, it’s not just me saying he hasn’t done enough. The chief medical officer admitted this at the same press conference where the new measures were announced.

Suffolk is currently in the lowest “medium” tier, with no extra restrictions. But our cases nearly doubled over the past week.

The infection rate in Babergh was higher than the threshold in Wales for putting an area into local lockdown.

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With no extra restrictions, it is likely that rates will continue to rise and we will be put into the “high” tier.

This is the level of restrictions that large parts of the North have been living under for months – with no effect on rising infection rates.

So, if we move into the “high” tier, we will most likely eventually end up in the “very high” tier – with measures the chief medical officer admits aren’t enough to bring the rate down.

This may take weeks or, if we are lucky, months but there is an inexorable inevitability about it.

This is what led Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer to call for a “circuit break” short, sharp lockdown to bring infection numbers down.

It must be accompanied by a comprehensive financial package to support businesses and individuals and, if timed to coincide with the school holidays, would minimise the disruption to children’s education.

This is what the government is almost certainly going to have to do anyway but, the longer the government delays, the longer the lockdown will have to last and the more damage it will cause.