Suffolk has ‘realistic’ chance of moving to Tier 1 by Christmas, say MPs
- Credit: Archant
Suffolk has a “realistic” chance of moving into Tier 1 before Christmas, new data has showed - but only if residents work together to continue to reduce infections, say MPs.
An official chart published by the Department of Health, which compares infection rates in the week ending November 19 to the week ending November 12, shows Suffolk incredibly close to Tier 1 areas like Cornwall and the Isle of Wight.
The graph shows that Suffolk must have missed out by a fraction on being placed into Tier 1, although Ipswich MP Tom Hunt said rising case numbers in the town may have persuaded the government to err on the side of caution.
The latest government figures, for the seven days to November 23, showed a large week-on-week rise for Ipswich - which was up from an infection rate of 92 cases per 100,000 people to 157.8, with 216 new cases.
By comparison, Babergh dropped from 141.2 cases per 100,000 to 103.2, with East Suffolk down from 88.6 cases to 64.9.
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West Suffolk - down to 50.8 - and Mid Suffolk, down to 43.3, remain among the areas with the lowest Covid-19 case rates in the country.
Mr Hunt said it was “disappointing to have just missed out” on rules which would have allowed much greater freedoms for hospitality businesses, many of which have struggled financially during the crisis.
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However, he said: “If we can use this opportunity now, it gives us something to aim for.
“The fact it is so close and the fact there is a review in two weeks does mean that if we get numbers going in the right direction, there does seem to be a realistic chance of going into Tier 1 before Christmas.
“In other areas, Tier 1 is not that realistic.
“My advice would be let’s all try and play our part in getting there.”
Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dr Dan Poulter said: “My view remains that the evidence supports Suffolk being in Tier 1.
“Many parts of our county have the lowest infection rates in England and community transmission is very low.
“Provided things stay as they are, I shall be asking the government to have a rethink and put Suffolk into Tier 1.”
However, he said it was important people continued to stick to the rules.
“It is no time for anyone to be letting down their guard or to make the assumption that we’re in a safer place,” he said.
“The virus is still dangerous.”
Being in Tier 1 would mean people in the county would be able to mix socially between households, provided they abide by the ‘rule of six’.
Hospitality businesses, such as pubs, restaurants and bars, would also be able operate until 11pm with table service only, with last orders by 10pm, should Suffolk enter Tier 1.
Lower restrictions would also see more fans allowed at sports stadiums, with 4,000 able to enter Portman Road instead of 2,000 in Tier 2.
Matt Hancock, health secretary and West Suffolk MP, has said he hopes Suffolk can soon join Tier 1.
The government is set to review the tiers for each area in mid-December.
“My own constituency of West Suffolk has the lowest case rate for over-60s in the whole country and I want to thank (council leaders) Matthew Hicks and John Griffiths and their teams for this achievement,” he said when announcing the new local lockdown system in the House of Commons.
“But despite the fact that Suffolk has the lowest case rate outside Cornwall and the Isle of Wight, our judgement, looking at all the indicators and based on the public health advice, is that Suffolk needs to be in Tier 2 to get the virus further under control.
“I hope Suffolk and so many other parts of the country can get to Tier 1 soon and the more people stick to the rules the quicker that will happen.”