County set for Tier 3 restrictions

Lancashire, including Blackpool and Blackburn with Darwen, will enter Tier 3 restrictions when the national coronavirus pandemic lockdown ends on December 2.

The government says that tiers are decided by factors including total number of cases, proportion of test results coming back positive, whether rates are climbing or falling, and number of cases in the over 60s.

In the 'very high' tier, restrictions include limiting social contact to groups of six and only in outdoor settings.

Bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants must close, though delivery and takeaway services can continue. Indoor entertainment venues such as bowling alleys and cinemas must close, while spectator sports will not yet resume.

Lancashire's council leaders had hoped that they county would be divided into two regions which would be split between Tier 2 and Tier 3. However, this has not happened, and the county as a whole is facing the toughest restrictions.

Cllr Lynn Williams, leader of Blackpool Council, said: "We are bitterly disappointed that the government has not recognised the significant improvements we have made in reducing infection rates – or the impact that Tier 3 designation will have on our local economy and people’s livelihoods. 

"The case that we put forward to be moved to Tier 2 was a compelling one both in terms of statistical evidence and the measures that we have put in place to maintain that downward trend. 

"We could not have made it any clearer that Tier 3 status is inappropriate particularly when a comparison is made with some areas that are moving into Tier 2 next week. There is a serious inconsistency in how these tiers have been applied and it is difficult to see how we can ever exit Tier 3 if we are always going to be tied into areas of the county that do not have comparable circumstances."

Councillor Paul Foster, leader of South Ribble Borough Council, added: "I am bitterly disappointed to discover that the whole of Lancashire – 1.5 million people and 75,000 businesses – will be entering Tier 3 following the national lockdown.

"I have just watched the MPs in the House of Commons laugh and joke their way through one of the most important and eagerly anticipated announcements of the year – but let’s be clear, to me, this is no joke. To all the business owners out there struggling to survive; to all the pub landlords; to all the restaurants and cinemas, this is no joke. This announcement could prove fatal for some businesses and that is truly devastating for both they and our communities.

"What’s more, to hear the Health Secretary tell the House of Commons that he has engaged with local leaders is simply not true. If the Health Secretary wants to engage with me, then by all means give me a ring or send me an email, but don’t misrepresent what is actually happening, or in this case, not happening.

 

"If the Health Secretary had taken the time to speak with me and other local leaders across Lancashire, we would have told him we support a targeted approach within Lancashire – allocating Tier 2 to areas where the rate of infection was lower, but putting Tier 3 restrictions in place where the rates were higher.

"I am just desperately sorry for the businesses in South Ribble who now face more time out of action. I hope that, of the small businesses that are allowed to remain open, our residents will get behind them by shopping locally and supporting the South Ribble economy.

"Let’s now do our utmost to try and reduce the rate of infection and make the case again that we should be placed in Tier 2."

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