York should be in the lowest tier of coronavirus restrictions once lockdown ends, York’s two MPs say – providing we can keep driving down infection rates in the city.
They say the reduced restrictions that being in Tier 1 would bring would give struggling York businesses a chance to make some much-needed income in the run-up to Christmas.
“We have got to look at what happens in hospital, and so on,” York outer MP Julian Sturdy admitted. “But given that we are seeing cases (of coronavirus) fall quite considerably in York, which is fantastic news, I think that York should be placed in Tier 1 (once lockdown ends).”
York Central MP Rachael Maskell agreed that, if current infection trends in the city continued, York would warrant being in the lowest tier of restrictions.
“We’re not there yet,” she stressed. “We have got to take this day by day. I’m working with York’s director of public health to see what further measures may need to be in place and if we can get those figures down further.
“The important thing is that members of the public will need to be sure that anywhere they enter is Covid secure. But if it is possible for York to be in Tier 1 I would welcome it.”
The latest figures show York with a Coronavirus infection rate of 166.2 per 100,000 of the population – well below the average for England of 259/ 100,000, and also below the rates in other areas of North and East Yorkshire. Scarborough remains the worst affected area of North Yorkshire, with a Covid infection rate of 413.8/ 100,000 people – though even there there are signs the rate is falling.
York’s two MPs were as speaking as Downing Street confirmed that when lockdown ends on December 2, England will enter a tougher three-tiered system of local coronavirus restrictions.
The ‘Covid winter plan’ is expected to place more areas into the higher tiers to keep the virus under control to ensure further restrictions are not needed, No 10 said.
The tiers are expected to be strengthened to safeguard the gains made during the national lockdown but it is understood that the controversial 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants will be altered under the new system.
The Prime Minister is expected to say that, while last orders must be called at 10pm, people will get an extra hour to finish their food and drinks with opening hours to be extended until 11pm.
The Cabinet is expected to discuss and sign off the plan on today before Mr Johnson announces it to Parliament tomorrow.
Mr Sturdy said businesses which had been hard hit desperately needed a break – and a taste of something like ‘normality’, in the run-up to Christmas.
The reduced restrictions that went with being in Tier 1 would give them that, he said.
“The run-up to Christmas is absolutely vital – it is one of the most important months for business,” he said.
Being in Tier 1 would make the economic situation just about viable for many businesses, he added. “But when we went into Tier 2 (before lockdown) they lost another 50 per cent of their trade, and that becomes not viable.”
Ms Maskell added: “Businesses are really struggling, and we need to do everything we can to support the economy.”
Details of what tier each area will be placed into are expected on Thursday, and MPs are expected to be given the vote to approve the new system, as promised by Mr Johnson, in the days before it comes into force on December 2.