Tougher coronavirus rules are 'on the way'

People could be banned from meeting with friends in pubs and restaurants under tough new lockdown measures in Shropshire.

A person wearing a face mask walks passed a sign in a shop window
A person wearing a face mask walks passed a sign in a shop window

The Government is expected to introduce a raft of new measures on Monday, which could see Shropshire classified as a ‘tier two’ area and subject to tougher restrictions.

It follows a sharp spike in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases across the county.

It is expected that people across the county, including Telford & Wrekin, will join the rest of the West Midlands in being banned from meeting people outside their ‘social bubble’ in pubs, restaurants or shops.

It is not thought the ban will extend to outdoor seating areas.

Councillor Shaun Davies, leader of Telford & Wrekin Council, said he was disappointed local authorities had not been consulted on the measures, and warned that they would simply lead to groups of people drinking in their homes. He said it was wrong that Telford & Wrekin was lumped together with other areas that had a much higher infection rate.

Councillor Peter Nutting, leader of Shropshire Council, said the rules would be tough on people in the county, but he expected they would comply with them.

He said outbreaks of the virus were largely constrained to small pockets of the county, and would like to have seen the measures more locally targeted.

Councillor Peter Nutting

“I would prefer, if we could, to confine the measures to just those areas where the virus is spreading rapidly,” he said

While the Telford & Wrekin and Shropshire Council areas have both seen a sharp rise in the number of cases over the past few days, their rates are still below the national average. In Telford & Wrekin, the infection rate is 53 cases per 100,000, compared to the English average of 62, while in the rest of Shropshire the figure was 58.

However, a total of 186 new cases were recorded in the Shropshire Council area during the week up until Sunday, an increase of 77 on the previous week. Telford & Wrekin saw 96 new cases during the same period, an increase of 30.

The infection rates are far lower than those in parts of the north of England which are set to be hit with ‘tier three’ restrictions meaning the closure of pubs and restaurants.

Despite shops reopening footfall has been down

Philip Dunne, MP for Ludlow, said the matter was likely be discussed at a routine meeting between MPs, health chiefs and council officials today. Mr Dunne, a former health minister, said the news was concerning, but steps had to be taken to protect the NHS in the wake of rising numbers of cases. “It’s very disappointing that the number of incidences has risen quite sharply in Shropshire over the last couple of weeks,” he said.

“We are a bit behind the rest of the Midlands, but we are beginning to reach those levels now. We are seeing admissions to hospitals growing rapidly, and what has happened in other parts of the Midlands is starting to happen here. We can’t risk our hospitals being overwhelmed.”

Mr Dunne added that hospitals had to treat a variety of illnesses, and not just coronavirus, and it was important that they were able to cope with this in order to prevent a deep winter crisis.

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