Nation at ‘tipping point’ - but can Suffolk avoid a second lockdown?
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A survey has revealed the majority of Suffolk and Essex residents are opposed to a second nationwide lockdown - but the health secretary has warned the country is at ‘tipping point’ in the fight against coronavirus.
Lockdown is again looming as the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic takes a grip - but calls are being strengthened for Suffolk and Essex to be spared.
Health secretary and west Suffolk MP Matt Hancock warned at the weekend that the country is at “tipping point” in the fight against Covid, giving weight to the argument that more stringent measures are needed to curb the spread.
However, rates remain relatively low in Suffolk, Essex and elsewhere in the East of England and we have called for local restrictions to be imposed rather than a blanket lockdown which would needlessly kill off even more small businesses.
In a poll on our website, we asked readers if they too backed the local lockdown strategy which is currently being used to try and control the spread in much of the North East.
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A massive 64% agreed and said they were opposed to a national lockdown, saying we should either continue as we are or continue as we are but enforce the rules more stringently.
Meanwhile, 36% of readers believe the Government should go ahead with a two-week ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown which would see pubs and other forms of hospitality closed down while keeping schools, nurseries and work places open in the hope of reducing the spread dramatically.
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On Facebook, Dawny Jane Smith said: “Trouble is if they leave us out people will flock to the county to avoid rules and regulations! Then we’d end up with a bigger problem which is not fair on our elderly and at risk people.”
But some feel the circuit breaker could be a positive step.
Reader Jason Howard said: “If it’s to control the virus so we can have a good Christmas so be it.”
According to the government’s latest surveillance report, Suffolk is ranked 134th out of 150 local authorities for its infection rate - a figure often referred to as the ‘R’ rate.
Essex is only slightly higher on the list at 126th.
Mr Hancock appeared on BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show over the weekend ti discuss the situation and refused to rule out that possibility of widespread restrictions if the public fails to follow the ‘rule of six’ and other social distancing measures currently in place.
Mr Hancock said there was a danger the numbers could “shoot through the roof” unless action was taken to halt the spread of the virus.
He said: “This country faces a tipping point.
“If everybody follows the rules - and we will be increasingly stringent on the people who are not following the rules - then we can avoid further national lockdowns.
“But we of course have to be prepared to take action if that’s what’s necessary.”
The warning came as the government announced anyone in England who refuses an order to self-isolate could face a fine of up to £10,000 for repeat offences.
David Beavan, town and district councillor for Southwold, said the region needs to be “ready” for a potential spike in cases.
He said: “We’re fairly good where we are, but you cannot get complacent.
“The important thing is we get on top of any outbreak. We have to be ready if cases rise.”