Ministers urged to strengthen lockdown as Covid deaths in region pass 350

Ministers have been urged to strengthen the lockdown after Covid deaths in the region passed 350.

Pressure is mounting for extra measures to be brought in while the vaccine roll out ramps up, with people also urged to abide by the restrictions in force.

Health chiefs have appealed for people to stay at home in a bid to stop intensive care units from being overrun with coronavirus patients.

Extra restrictions understood to be under consideration include banning people from different households from meeting outside and a curfew.

It comes amid rising rates in infection.

In the Telford & Wrekin Council area the infection rate was 547.1 per 100,000 people in the week to January 7, while in the Shropshire Council region it had risen to 457.4, and in Powys to 208 per 100,000.

Telford & Wrekin Council leader Shaun Davies criticised the Government's rules for having too many vague areas and urged ministers to follow the scientific advice in a 'speedy way'.

The daily number of coronavirus deaths at Shropshire hospitals as of January 12. By date of death, not date death was announced. Data: NHS England.

He said: "This lockdown is more like November’s lockdown rather than March.

"The difference between November and now is school closures, although there are more children going into school now than in March.

"There are so many exceptions to Government rules and there are so many vague areas, for example how local is local for exercise?

"Nurseries remain open for all too.

"Supermarkets need to step up too – whilst many businesses are closed they are in protected position to remain open. They must ensure they keep their staff and customers safe.

"We all need to do our bit too. We can clap our NHS staff on a Thursday night and then not follow rules on a Friday, which will increase demands on the NHS and lead to deaths.

Selective

"Lastly, the Government must follow the scientific advice in a speedy way. We have seen the Government be selective as to what advice they follow."

Shropshire Council leader Peter Nutting said he believed restrictions are already tough but some people continue to travel long distances to parts of the county, which is a cause for concern.

"In rural parts of Shropshire we are getting visitors coming from far away," he said.

"That can't be right. I think the police could be more active, giving warnings out is quite reasonable. Even PCSOs, it needs to be done in some official capacity."

Shrewsbury Town Council has also urged the public to be sensible and follow guidelines amid concerns at the number of people using the Quarry and its children's play area.

Meanwhile police chiefs have warned that action will be taken against lockdown rule-breakers.

West Mercia Police has handed out more than 700 fines for breaches since last March.

The region's police and crime commissioner John Campion said he believed many people in the region were abiding by the restrictions but warned that police would crack down on those flouting the rules.

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