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MP Anthony Browne disappointed South Cambridgeshire is under high alert in Tier 2

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South Cambridgeshire MP Anthony Browne said he is “disappointed” the district has been placed in the government’s “high alert” Covid-19 restrictions.

He was among the political leaders in Cambridgeshire reacting on Thursday (November 26) to the news that the entire county will be in Tier 2 when the national lockdown ends on December 2.

Cambridgeshire is in Tier 2 from December 2
Cambridgeshire is in Tier 2 from December 2

The government has placed the majority of the country in Tier 2 with large areas in the highest Tier 3, and only Cornwall, the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight have been placed in the lowest Tier 1 restrictions.

Tier 2 means only pubs serving food can open.

Conservative Mr Browne said: “I am disappointed that South Cambs has been categorised as Tier 2, when infections are falling fast and below the rate in the Isle of Wight which is Tier 1. I know it will be a big disappointment to many businesses, especially pubs.

“The government has categorised the whole of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough together, and the rates are pushed up by much higher levels of infection in Cambridge city and Peterborough.”

South Cambridgeshire MP Anthony Browne. Picture: Keith Heppell
South Cambridgeshire MP Anthony Browne. Picture: Keith Heppell

He said he welcomed the fortnightly review of tiers, and urged everyone in the district to abide by the restrictions.

Cllr Bridget Smith, the Liberal Democrat leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “This is absolutely not the time to be divisive and to blame other districts for the tier we find ourselves in. It is the time to follow the experts’ advice. South Cambridgeshire wraps all around Cambridge city with many people living or working in both districts so it would be ludicrous for us to be in different tiers.

“We know that all of our local hospitals are at or near to capacity. While our rates may be lower than the average, we recently saw very rapid increases and this could very easily happen again. We want to support efforts to avoid this happening, so that we reduce rates and transmission as much as possible before the five-day Christmas break.

Cllr Bridget Smith, leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council. Picture: Keith Heppell
Cllr Bridget Smith, leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council. Picture: Keith Heppell

“The Tier 2 rules are going to hit the village pubs in our district particularly hard. The support currently provided by government is far from adequate, and I fear that many just will not survive.”

Cllr Smith said the council is working alongside others in the area to support businesses and residents, and she urged businesses concerned by the government announcement to contact the council’s business support team.

East Cambridgeshire’s infection rates are among the lowest in the country but it too sits in Tier 2 along with the rest of the county.

Cambridge’s MP Daniel Zeichner said the threat from the virus “remains very real,” and said it will be “important that everyone in the city takes care to protect one another”.

Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner. Picture: Richard Marsham
Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner. Picture: Richard Marsham

He also called for more financial support for businesses affected.

He said: “Now we know the additional restrictions to protect public health, it is important that the government provides an appropriate package alongside to provide economic support. I know there are many Cambridge pubs, bars and restaurants who are desperately worried as we enter the crucial Christmas period.”

Cllr Lewis Herbert, the Labour leader of Cambridge City Council, said: “The wellbeing of everyone living and working in Cambridge is always our top priority and there are clear public safety reasons why the whole of the East region has been initially put into Tier 2.”

He added: “Our residents of all ages, workers, businesses and students have given up a huge amount to comply with the rules that we all need to stick to.

“It is vital that we all do our bit to keep infected numbers falling through December as we have achieved in November.

Cllr Lewis Herbert, leader of Cambridge City Council. Picture: Keith Heppell
Cllr Lewis Herbert, leader of Cambridge City Council. Picture: Keith Heppell

“We have to prioritise protecting our over 60s who are particularly at risk and limit rising pressures on Addenbrooke’s and other hospitals. That means unavoidably that it has to be a safety-first Christmas this year.

“If we all stay safe, stick to the rules and support each other and continue to observe social distancing and the hands-face-space advice then we can make a real difference.”

The mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, Conservative James Palmer, said: “Whilst I accept [the county being placed in Tier 2], I understand the frustration and disappointment of so many households and businesses who have worked tirelessly to follow the government guidelines and go above and beyond to keep families and customers safe.

“The Combined Authority and Business Board will continue to support business via our Growth Hub and for those businesses concerned about the impact of Tier 2 restrictions please do email hello@cpcagrowthhub.co.uk for the support of a dedicated advisor.”

Government information on Tier 2
Government information on Tier 2

Cambridgeshire’s director of public health, Dr Liz Robin, said: “It is vitally important that we now work as hard as we can to reduce our rate of infection to protect those we love ahead of some limited relaxation over Christmas. This means reducing contact with anyone you don’t live with, working from home wherever possible, keeping to well ventilated rooms, washing your hands often and regularly and wearing a mask whenever you are in indoor public places.

“Our infection rates are stabilising or coming down across most areas, so we do know how to respond to this pandemic. We have good plans in place to continue to drive down our infection rates, working with our communities and supporting people to take the right steps to protect themselves and others.”

The health secretary, Matt Hancock MP, told Parliament: “Thanks to the shared sacrifice of everyone in recent weeks, in following the national restrictions, we have been able to start to bring the virus back under control and slow its growth, easing some of the pressure on the NHS.

“We will do this by returning to a regional tiered approach, saving the toughest measures for the parts of the country where prevalence remains too high.

“The tiering approach provides a framework that, if used firmly, should prevent the need to introduce stricter national measures.”

Read more

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Coronavirus in Cambridgeshire: What Covid-19 case numbers and deaths to November 20 tell us

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