Stoke-on-Trent will enter into tier three coronavirus restrictions when the national lockdown ends on December 2.
The restrictions mean that the city, along with many other parts of the country, is on very high alert. The decision was announced by government this morning (Thursday), and comes as latest figures show that total number of coronavirus cases in the city is 415.0 per 100,000 for the seven-days to 22 November. A total 98.7 per cent of the population of England is reported to be placed in the top two tiers.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council leader Abi Brown said: “I’m understandably disappointed that this is the case – particularly so for residents who have played their part in driving down rates and even more so for those who work in the hospitality and leisure sector in the city. However, as I hear more about the decision-making process government have used to base their decisions on and as we see how many others up and down the country are being placed into tier three, sadly there was an inevitability to this.
“We have come such a long way during the lockdown in reducing the infection rate in the city, through people taking responsible steps to stop the spread of this disease. Our case rate is down by 26.7 per cent on the past seven days. But we all have to accept that we are coming down from a very high position and our case numbers still remain high. We need to sustain this downward trend before we see the impact on the criteria government have used to make this decision.
“At the same time, we know there continues to be extreme pressure on Royal Stoke Hospital and this is one of the critical determining factors government have taken into account when taking their decisions.”
Local authorities have been advised that a review will be undertaken by government about the tiers on 16 December.
Councillor Brown continued: “I am writing to Secretary of State Matt Hancock to urge him to consider us for review on 16 December. With our work on lateral flow rapid testing and our strengthened approach to tackling the virus through our own track and trace team as well as our continued focus on compliance and enforcement, I want to do all we possibly can to get the city out of tier three at the earliest possible opportunity.
“We have the highest testing rate in the West Midlands, we have de-escalated previously not once but twice and are one of the only areas to do so. We know that the majority of our residents are doing the right thing so asking for a review on 16 December is something we can all work towards.
“My message to residents and businesses is that we need to keep going. Let’s work together to follow the guidance and see what is achievable. The people of Stoke-on-Trent are second to none and I know they will pull out all the stops for their city. The tier three restrictions are in place to help us all to beat this disease, and we must do this together.”
The tier three ‘very high alert’ restrictions are:
- You must not meet socially indoors or in most outdoor places with anybody you do not live with, or who is not in your support bubble, this includes in any private garden or at most outdoor venues
- You must not socialise in a group of more than six people in some other outdoor public spaces, including parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, a public garden, grounds of a heritage site or castle, or a sports facility – this is called the ‘rule of six’
- Hospitality settings, such as bars (including shisha venues), pubs, cafes and restaurants are closed – they are permitted to continue sales by takeaway, click-and-collect, drive-through or delivery service
- Accommodation such as hotels, B&Bs, campsites, and guest houses must close. There are several exemptions, such as for those who use these venues as their main residence, and those requiring the venues where it is reasonably necessary for work or education and training
- Indoor entertainment and tourist venues must close
- Indoor attractions at mostly outdoor entertainment venues must also close
- Leisure and sports facilities may continue to stay open, but group exercise classes (including fitness and dance) should not go ahead. Saunas and steam rooms should close
- There should be no public attendance at spectator sport or indoor performances and large business events should not be taking place. Elite sport events may continue to take place without spectators
- Large outdoor events (performances and shows) should not take place, with the exception of drive-in events
- Places of worship remain open, but you must not attend with or socialise with anyone outside of your household or support bubble while you are there, unless a legal exemption applies
- Weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of attendees – 15 people can attend wedding ceremonies, wedding receptions are not allowed, 30 people can attend funeral ceremonies, 15 people can attend linked commemorative events
- Organised outdoor sport, and physical activity and exercise classes can continue, however higher-risk contact activity should not take place
- Organised indoor sport, physical activity and exercise classes cannot take place indoors. There are exceptions for indoor disability sport, sport for educational purposes and supervised sport and physical activity for under-18s
- You can continue to travel to venues or amenities which are open, but should aim to reduce the number of journeys you make where possible
- Avoid travelling to other parts of the UK, including for overnight stays other than where necessary, such as for work, education, youth services, to receive medical treatment, or because of caring responsibilities. You can travel through other areas as part of a longer journey
- For international travel see the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office travel advice for your destination and the travel corridors list.
There are a number of exemptions under the guidance, and more details on this can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/local-restriction-tiers-what-you-need-to-know.
The council is working through the impact on its services, and more details will be announced on this in due course.
Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones, director of adult social care, health integration and wellbeing, said: “I know this news will be frustrating for so many people in our city who have followed all of the national guidance that they have been asked to. But we all must understand that we are not where we need to be yet. We must all continue to follow the rules. The steps that everyone in the city are taking is working.
“We are still seeing huge pressures on our local health services, so although the infection rate is beginning to come down, it is not happening quickly enough. By following the guidance, no matter how exhausted we are, it is making a difference. ‘Hands, face and space’ are the ways that we will get through this.”
For the latest information on council services and support during the coronavirus, and frequently asked questions, please visit www.stoke.gov.uk/coronavirus. For latest health advice on the coronavirus, please visit www.nhs.uk/coronavirus, and for further information on the virus visit www.gov.uk/coronavirus.
All residents are reminded about the critical importance of regular handwashing with soap and hot water for 20 seconds. The significance of this action cannot be underestimated. If residents have symptoms, please get tested. All residents must continue to follow the guidance of wash hands, cover face and make space.
For more information on digital services, visit www.stoke.gov.uk, download the MyStoke App, or follow the city council’s social media channels.
Note to editors
Decisions on tiers are made by ministers based on public health recommendations informed by the following factors:
- Case detection rate (in all age groups and, in particular, amongst the over 60s);
- How quickly case rates are rising or falling;
- Positivity in the general population;
- Pressure on the NHS – including current and projected (3-4 weeks out) NHS capacity – including admissions, general/acute/ICU bed occupancy, staff absences; and
- Local context and exceptional circumstances such as a local but contained outbreak.
If these indicators are not improving, an area may be moved up a tier and if the trajectory improves, the area may move to a lower tier.