Shropshire to be put in lowest of three tiers of Covid-19 restrictions

Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin will be placed in the lowest band of the Government's new three-tiered coronavirus restrictions.

The county is expected to be included in the 'medium' tier of the regulations
The county is expected to be included in the 'medium' tier of the regulations

Local council leaders have confirmed and welcomed the move but said it outlines the need for the public to follow guidelines on hand-washing, distancing, wearing of face masks and other regulations to ensure greater restrictions are not imposed.

The new system, announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Parliament on Monday, includes three tiers – "medium", "high", and "very high".

Both Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin are to be included in the medium category, meaning restrictions will remain as they are – such as the rule of six and pubs closing at 10pm.

Covid-19 alert levels in England

The Prime Minister's announcement does not apply across the border in Powys, where policy is dictated by the Welsh government.

Wales has seen a number of local lockdown restrictions introduced in recent weeks, but Powys has so far avoided any further measures.

The news of Shropshire's rating will bring a sigh of relief from the hospitality industry in the county which is still struggling to recover from the impact of the full lockdown imposed in March.

Councillor Peter Nutting, leader of Shropshire Council, and Councillor Shaun Davies, leader of Telford & Wrekin Council, have both called on the public to do their bit to avoid a tightening of restrictions and more potential harm to the economy and public health.

Councillor Nutting said they were relieved that the county was being put into the medium tier, after warnings prior to the weekend that both Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin would be in the high tier, bringing with it a ban on all social mixing between households indoors.

It is understood that the Government had initially planned for areas with a rate of more than 50 cases per 100,000 people to be included in the high band.

It has been suggested that the threshold has now been raised to 100 cases per 100,000 people – for the week ending October 8 Shropshire was 69 and Telford & Wrekin was 58. The England average was 79.

Under the new arrangements:

  • The medium alert level will cover most of England and will consist of the current national measures, including the rule of six and the 10pm curfew.

  • The high alert level reflects interventions in many areas subject to local restrictions, preventing mixing between different households indoors.

  • Most areas which are already subject to local restrictions will automatically move into the high alert category, as well as Nottinghamshire, East and West Cheshire and a small area of High Peak.

  • The very high alert level will mean, at a minimum, the closure of pubs and bars and a ban on social mixing indoors and in private gardens.

Councillor Davies said that the new system showed there would be a cost to the county if the rate of cases continues to increase.

Councillor Nutting said: "We are in tier one (medium) and expect to stay in tier one."

He added: "Cases in Shropshire are going up and going up quite rapidly though so we do have to be careful. If we get close to the threshold we will have discussions with the Government."

The Shropshire Council leader said it was vital to keep transmission of the virus low to try and protect the economy.

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He said: "We are getting quite worried about the economy in Shropshire so we want as few restrictions as possible – as long as it is safe to do so.

"Tier one is the right place for Shropshire and I hope we stay there, but I would encourage people to be sensible – follow the two metre rule, make sure you wash your hands thoroughly, wear face masks, follow all the guidance because we really do not want any more lockdown than is absolutely necessary."

Vigilance

Councillor Davies said the vigilance of the public is paramount in ensuring no escalation of restrictions.

He said: "Clearly we remain in a medium level community, that means the virus has not gone away, we still need to be really really careful. We have seen a significant increase in cases in recent weeks and we need to get our numbers down.

"We now know if the numbers increase significantly there will be a cost to business and the health of residents, so now we need to pull together more than ever before to keep our numbers low and drive them down.

"It means we all need to follow the rules – wash your hands, ensure you isolate if you have symptoms or are asked to. This really is an important moment for us.

"Right on our borders in Wolverhampton and Cheshire they are in a different space and a higher category so this is why it is really important we stick together and drive these numbers down."

The Prime Minister announced the closure of pubs and bars across Merseyside as he launched the three-tier system.

Mr Johnson told MPs that the coming weeks and months would “test the mettle” of the country as it faced a second wave of Covid-19 cases.

Areas in the top tier will be able to impose extra restrictions, and in the Liverpool city region this will mean the closure of leisure centres, gyms, betting shops and casinos.

The Prime Minister told MPs: “The weeks and months ahead will continue to be difficult and will test the mettle of this country.”

But he added: “I have no doubt at all that together we will succeed.”

MPs will debate and vote on the measures on Tuesday and the new tiered system will come into effect on Wednesday.

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