Tier 2 continues to be right for Essex, Council Leader tells Government

Health / Thu 10th Dec 2020 at 05:08pm

Tier 2 continues to be right for Essex, Council Leader tells Government

AS the Government prepares to review the Covid-19 Tiers which parts of England were placed into two weeks ago, Essex County Council is urging ministers and officials to keep the County in Tier 2 based on its overall infection rate.

The Council is working with MPs and lobbying the Secretary of State for Health, Matt Hancock, demonstrating that a move to Tier 3 is unnecessary and would be devastating for our businesses, particularly in hospitality, where Christmas and New Year trading is crucial. 

In a regional meeting with Public Health England, the Council was reassured that it was taking every step possible to try to stem the increase in cases currently being seen in parts of the county.

Leader of the Council, Cllr David Finch, said: “The County Council’s position is clear – Tier 2 remains the right place for Essex to be this Christmas.

“We are doing everything in our power, including the continued roll-out of testing, working with schools, businesses, and our health and voluntary sector partners, to stem the increases we are seeing. It is our absolute, top priority. We will continue to do everything in our power to reduce the infection rate in the south and across the whole county.

“Our current infection rate across the whole county is 169.4 per 100,000, which would be a clear Tier 2 position. Equally we are addressing as a matter of urgency those areas with much higher infection rates, particularly in Basildon where they are the third highest nationally, and neighbouring boroughs and districts.

“Tier 3 would be a disaster for Essex. The majority of our population live in areas well below the Tier 3 threshold. While there are some hospital pressures in Basildon and Southend, taking the county as a whole there is good capacity. There is also high confidence in the Essex approach, recently recognised by a Cabinet Office Task Force and the latest remarks from Public Health England affirming we are taking all possible steps.

“Essex Test and Trace is one of the strongest in the country, and we have recently added additional funds to further enhance an already top-class operation. 

“Ultimately, Tier 3 will, in the view of our experts, do little to reduce infection and do much to destroy our economy; any decision to change tiers coming into effect on 18 or 19 December and relaxations to arrangements over Christmas starting on 23 December, will mean going to tier 3 next week is nonsensical. It would be far better to look at the position in January.” 

The Council is reminding residents that remembering to social distance and follow the rules may be the difference between a happy Christmas and New Year or a relative or loved one ending up sick or in hospital.

Cllr John Spence, Cabinet member for Adults and Health, has appealed to everyone to make a special effort in the run up to Christmas, with infection rates continuing to rise in parts of Essex, and the risk that the county may be placed in Tier 3.

He said: “If people can work from home, follow the social distancing rules, and self-isolate if they are told to by the NHS or Essex Test and Trace, they will be playing their part in reducing the incidence of the virus.

“The greatest gift anyone can give this Christmas is keeping yourself and your family safe. No-one wants to see a further rise in cases after the holidays. This is in our hands, so please, remember, work from home, hands, face, space, and keep your contacts outside of home to the minimum.”

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