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Coronavirus: Cambridgeshire moving to Tier 4

Cambridgeshire is among the areas that will be moved into Tier 4 Covid-19 restrictions from 12.01am on Boxing Day, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced today (Wednesday, December 23).

It is thought that rapidly increasing levels of infection in Cambridgeshire - after a period of reducing rates - could possibly be a result of the new variant of the disease which is also being seen across London and the South East of England. Peterborough was placed in Tier 4 last weekend (December 20).

Case numbers have nearly doubled in Cambridgeshire in the most recent week, with the most rapid increases seen in South Cambridgeshire, Huntingdonshire and Cambridge.

Matt Hancock, the health secretary
Matt Hancock, the health secretary

Under the new restrictions:

  • People should stay at home
  • They should only travel for essential reasons such as work, education or essential shopping.
  • All non-essential shops must close
  • Personal care services such as hairdressers and gyms and entertainment venues such as theatres and cinemas must close
  • Hospitality venues such as pubs, cafes and restaurants must also close, offering only take away and delivery services.
  • People must reduce non-essential contact with anyone outside of their household /support bubble to the absolute minimum and can meet with only one other person from another household outdoors, socially distanced at all times.

Cllr Steve Count, leader of Cambridgeshire County Council, is urging local residents to think about what more they can do to reduce rates of the virus as quickly as possible and encouraging businesses to come forward if they need help.

“We have all worked hard to keep rates of the virus down in the county and so it is disappointing that infections are now rising quickly once again, but news of the variant can perhaps explain why this is happening. The impact this will have on so many of our residents saddens me, as well as the businesses that I know will once again have to close.

“Moving into Tier 4 will have an effect on people’s lives, but on its own it won’t drive down rates. We need people to do even more to break the chain of infection and stop Covid in its tracks.

“I urge you to avoid mixing with others outside of your household or support bubble and to be alert to the signs of Covid. If you have symptoms, don’t be frightened to get a test. Councils across Cambridgeshire can offer you lots of support if you need to self-isolate, so please help us to break the chain of infection. There really is no reason not to.

Covid-19 case rates in regions of England. Graphic: PA
Covid-19 case rates in regions of England. Graphic: PA

“While we must protect people’s health – protecting the economy is vital too. There is financial support available for businesses, and individuals affected by the return to a strict lockdown or affected by the virus. If you aren’t eligible for government funding –there are also locally available funds. Please contact your district or city council to find out more about the support that is available.

“These are difficult times, but I can ensure that Cambridgeshire County Council will do even more to beat Coronavirus, and we need everyone across the county to do more as well.”

Each of the district and city councils across Cambridgeshire has an action plan for managing rates of the virus and these are being ramped up to reflect the rising rates and the move to tier 4.

The county council will be working with large employers to make sure they are getting all the support they need to remove barriers for testing and self-isolating, and be helping businesses who may be confused by rule changes.

Dr Liz Robin, director of public health for Cambridgeshire, is urging people to follow the Tier 4 rules and to seek help if they need it from the network of support hubs across the county or the many charities and community support groups.

An illustration of Covid-19
An illustration of Covid-19

“All of the new Tier 4 restrictions placed on Cambridgeshire and elsewhere in England are aimed to achieve just one thing - that is to reduce people’s contact with anyone outside their household /support bubble to the absolute minimum, as it is contact with other people which spreads the virus. It’s also important to be even more rigorous about observing the ‘hands, face, space’ rules that we are all familiar with and to make sure rooms are well ventilated.

“It is more essential than ever that people stay home and reduce their contact with anyone that they don’t live with so they don’t come into contact with this new, and much easier to catch, variety of Covid-19.

“Don’t invite anyone in your home you don’t normally live with or who isn’t in your existing support bubble and only leave home for essential reasons - for example to work if you can’t work from home, to attend medical appointments, to buy food, and for other essential reasons described in national Tier 4 guidance. When you go out for one of these reasons, remember to stay away from crowded places, keep two metres away from anyone you don’t live with, wear a face covering when required and wash or sanitise your hands frequently. Exercise is important for wellbeing and you can go out to exercise alone, with people you live with, or with one other person you don’t live with providing this is in a public place like a park.

“Many people will be feeling sad or upset about recent developments and for some this could mean a significant effect on their mental health.

“Please look out for neighbours and friends who may be alone or under specific pressures and even though you can’t meet physically – ring or contact them online.

“There is support for those who may be lonely or isolated, or who suddenly need very practical support– and I would encourage them to phone the countywide co-ordination hub on 0345 045 5219. For anyone whose mental health is being more severely impacted, there is the Lifeline support number 0808 808 2121 which operates daily from 11am to 11pm and for people with a mental health crisis you can phone the NHS 111 number and ask for Option 2. More information about mental health support is available on the Keep Your Head website www.keep-your-head.com.

“There is hope for the future as we now have a safe and effective vaccine which is being rolled out nationally. But it will take time for enough people to have been vaccinated to protect the vulnerable in our community and reduce pressures on the NHS.

“Until then we must all work to keep our infection levels down, and make sure that by Christmas 2021 things look very different.”

Following the health secretary’s announcement Cambridge’s Labour MP Daniel Zeichner said: “Sadly I think it is the right decision for Cambridge to go into Tier 4. The new strain of the virus is spreading very quickly, Addenbrooke’s is super-busy and more people are getting ill.

“Hopes were raised around availability of vaccines earlier this month but right now we need to take maximum care.

“We end 2020 with one of the highest death tolls in Europe, businesses are struggling and the virus is once again out of control. All those sacrifices and it feels like we are back to where we were in March.”

Meanwhile, South Cambridgeshire’s Conservative MP Anthony Browne said: “This is news that no one wanted to hear. It is a hammer blow to businesses and to all our aspirations to return to normal. But the shocking rise of infections - doubling in less than a week - as a result of the new variant has left the government with no choice. We had the original virus pretty much under control, but this new more infectious mutation, which has spread across the South East, London and now East Anglia, requires even tougher measures.We still have to keep cases down until the vaccine is rolled out and the elderly and vulnerable protected.”

Covid-19 restrictions in England, as of December 26. Graphic: PA (43709359)
Covid-19 restrictions in England, as of December 26. Graphic: PA (43709359)

Also moving into Tier 4 from December 26 are: Sussex, Oxfordshire, Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire, those parts of Essex not yet in Tier 4, Waverley in Surrey, and Hampshire – including Portsmouth and Southampton but with the exception of the New Forest.

Bristol, Gloucestershire, Somerset including the North Somerset council area, Swindon, the Isle of Wight, the New Forest and Northamptonshire as well as Cheshire and Warrington will all be escalated to Tier 3.

Cornwall and Herefordshire move from Tier 1 to Tier 2.

Read more

Covid-19: What tier is Cambridgeshire in from Boxing Day? A full list of areas moving to Tier 2, 3 or 4 from December 26

New Covid-19 variant does spread more quickly, government confirms

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