Suffolk enters Tier 4 from today - but 'light at the end of the tunnel', say MPs
- Credit: Archant
Suffolk and north Essex have been placed under harsh Tier 4 coronavirus measures from today - but leaders have said there is "light at the end of the tunnel".
Health secretary and West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock revealed Suffolk and the whole of Essex would face lockdown-style measures from Boxing Day in a bid to curb the spread of Covid-19.
In Tier 4, all non-essential retailers and hospitality services will be ordered to close and residents will be urged to stay at home.
Suffolk and the Essex districts of Colchester, Tendring and Uttlesford were under Tier 2 measures before Boxing Day.
Ipswich MP Tom Hunt said "there is a bright light at the end of the tunnel" as he urged residents to stick to the strict but "simple" guidelines.
He said: "Obviously Tier 4 is a much tougher set of restrictions. But, in many senses, it's a much more simple message.
"We need to stay at home until infection rates significantly decline. There's a reason why we have to do it - it's to save lives.
"I hope it won't be too long into 2021 that we see some of these restrictions rolled back.
"In some ways, I can understand why following these restrictions can be tougher than first time around. But what's different is that we now have far greater certainty when this will end.
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"We are closer than we've ever been before to a decisive breakthrough.
"Let's all work together - there's a bright light at the end of the tunnel."
James Cartlidge, MP for South Suffolk, said he spoke with the trusts responsible for Ipswich, Colchester and West Suffolk hospitals prior to the announcement on Wednesday.
He urged residents to continue to follow the government's guidelines and raised hope of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine receiving approval in the coming days.
Mr Cartlidge said: "If we want to get out of Tier 4, the infection rate and hospitalisations have to fall drastically.
"We can each do our bit by obeying the rules on hands, face and space and social distancing.
"Hopefully we will hear the Oxford vaccine will be approved in the next few days.
"The key thing to remember is the infection rate is putting huge pressure on our hospital staff.
"It's beholden on all of us to do our bit. If we don't follow the rules, it will lead to more fatalities. It's in all of our interests."
Harwich and North Essex MP Sir Bernard Jenkin said he was saddened by the move to place all of Essex into Tier 4 - but said it was "inevitable" due to escalating case numbers.
He said: "Obviously this is very disappointing and very tough on people who have had to change their plans. But this move became inevitable as we looked at the figures.
"I'm personally very sad about this. The local MPs managed to avoid us moving out of Tier 2 after the last review.
"But the figures since then have completely changed."
Business leaders have also issued a stark plea to the community after firms throughout the region have been ordered to close.
Paul Simon, head of communications and policy at the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, said: "Suffolk Chamber of Commerce and its members, all of whom are so vital to and embedded within their respective communities, would urge all Suffolk residents to respect health guidance and so ensure that the county exits Tier 4 as soon as possible.
"Suffolk residents need to do the right thing not only for themselves and their loved ones, but for the businesses that underpin our present and future quality of life."
Temporary Chief Superintendent Kim Warner, of Suffolk police, added: "During the pandemic the police service has looked to support our communities by encouraging compliance with the regulations.
"We urge everyone to put the safety of others first over Christmas and New Year by adhering to the new tier restrictions."