West Midlands mayor urges review of Government’s new Covid-19 restrictions
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Andy Street, the Conservative mayor of the West Midlands, called for a review of the Government’s decision to impose new Covid-19 restrictions on parts of the region.
Mr Street said he was “very disappointed” Tier 2 restrictions will apply to Birmingham, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall, and Wolverhampton.
Under the new categories, the remaining areas of the West Midlands, Dudley and Coventry, will be in Tier 1 with no new additional restrictions.
Mr Street, a former managing director of John Lewis, said in a statement issued on social media: “Citizens and businesses in the region will be disappointed to hear that the majority of the West Midlands will now be moving into Tier 2 and as a consequence will have stricter measures imposed.
“This is not something regional leaders supported, nor what I believed would be happening following extensive conversations over recent days.”
Mr Street said he believed that continuing the existing measures would have been the right call to protect both people’s lives and livelihoods.
The elected mayor added: “The most important change between our current restrictions and the new ones announced today is the ban on households mixing in hospitality venues.
“This is something the latest local epidemiology does not support, and I am disappointed that the Government is pressing ahead with this despite the united view of local leaders.
“The main problem in the West Midlands remains transmission within household settings, and stricter measures for the hospitality industry will not solve that.
“I am urging the Government to review this decision as soon as possible.”
Meanwhile, Nottinghamshire’s Labour police and crime commissioner, Paddy Tipping, said the city being classed in Tier 2 would mean that mixing between different households or support bubbles indoors was prohibited, while “the Rule of Six” will continue to apply outdoors, in public spaces as well as private gardens.
Mr Tipping added: “Importantly for our local economy, at the current time hospitality businesses will be allowed to continue to operate.
“It remains critical that we all do what we can to lower the number of infections and return the area to ‘Tier 1′.
“There is no doubt that the coming weeks and months will prove a difficult and challenging time for individuals, families, businesses and whole communities as we all pull together to control the spread of this virus.”
The new measures in Nottingham and the wider county come as Covid-19 numbers continue to escalate.
Weekly figures for the city are currently at more than 900 cases per 100,000, while the and the county ranges between 90 and 290 per 100,000.
Alison Challenger, director of public health for Nottingham City Council, said: “I would urge everyone to play their part and follow these new restrictions.
“We have to do all we can to stop the spread of Covid-19 and better protect older and more vulnerable people, as well as helping to reduce pressure on the NHS as we move into winter.”
Ian Ward, the leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “The negative impact of the new restrictions on the (hospitality) sector and the lives of the people who work in it can’t be overstated.
“The sector supports more than 135,000 jobs across the West Midlands and it’s essential that further financial support is made available to those businesses affected.”
But Mr Ward stressed that it was now more important than ever for residents to follow advice to combat Covid-19.
“In order to get these restrictions lifted, we need to drive that rate down and that will only happen if everyone does their bit,” he said.