Having listened to the Prime Minister address the nation last night on the latest Coronavirus restrictions, I couldn’t help raise the question:
Is all this really enough?
As we were presented with three new tiers of restrictions – Very high, high and medium, I couldn’t help feeling that they were really not enough to halt the progress of the virus.
And the Liverpool City region is the only area with those toughest restrictions with the total closures of bars and pubs.
Before Boris Johnson spoke last night, I looked at BBC news with their health editor, Hugh Pym reporting from Whiston Hospital at Knowsley near Liverpool.
It was quite a shocking report with beds filling with new Covid cases.
It was as though we were back to square one with more Covid cases in hospital now nationally than there were on March 23 when we were in national lockdown.
This is a bleak and frightening picture.
And when he talked to the nation last night, Boris Johnson said the lights were flashing like dashboard warnings on a passenger jet.
The reality is that the number of cases has gone up four times in four weeks—the latest total is 13 972 cases of coronavirus with 50 new deaths.
Across this region (apart Solihull, Sandwell & Birmingham) we are on the medium tier but how long will that last we must ask ourselves as the pandemic spreads throghout the country.
The Prime Minister set out the three tier restrictions system with Liverpool at the pinnacle of their very high system but 12 areas in the North West, Yorkshire and the Humber close behind.
Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer last night said he was not confident that the tier three restrictions were going to challenge the pandemic.
And you have to ask the question: What has really changed?
My take is that there will now be tougher restrictions being imposed throughout the country.
And local authorities will be playing an even more important role in trying to help crush this deadly virus in a second surge made all the worse by normal winter conditions.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, responded to the government announcement. He said: “Citizens and businesses in the region will be disappointed to hear. that the majority of the West Midlands will now be moving to Tier 2. This is not something that regional leaders supported, nor what I believed would be happening following extensive conversations over recent days.”
He added: “I have always argued that data and evidence should lead decision-making and I therefore find it very surprising that the West Midlands, with an average infection rate of 123 per 100,000 is now in the same tier as Manchester, which has an average infection rate of more than 550 per 100,000. Reflecting on this, I am very disappointed that the government has not found a more flexible approach to our situation.”
ACROSS THE REGION: Local COVID Alert Level: Medium Gloucestershire Worcestershire Oxfordshire South Gloucestershire Bristol Swindon & North Wiltshire Thames Valley Local COVID Alert Level: High Solihull Sandwell Birmingham
Local COVID Alert Level – Medium This is for areas where national restrictions continue to be in place. This means:
All businesses and venues can continue to operate, in a COVID-Secure manner, other than those that remain closed in law, such as nightclubs.
Certain businesses selling food or drink on their premises are required to close between 10pm and 5am.
Businesses and venues selling food for consumption off the premises can continue to do so after 10pm as long as this is through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-thru.
Schools, universities and places of worship remain open
Weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of attendees
Organised indoor sport and exercise classes can continue to take place, provided the Rule of Six is followed
People must not meet in groups larger than 6, indoors or outdoors
Local COVID Alert Level – High
This is for areas with a higher level of infections. This means the following additional measures are in place:
People must not meet with anybody outside their household or support bubble in any indoor setting, whether at home or in a public place
People must not meet in a group of more than 6 outside, including in a garden or other space.
People should aim to reduce the number of journeys they make where possible. If they need to travel, they should walk or cycle where possible, or to plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport.