Warrington WILL move into Tier 3 'next week' as Nottinghamshire could face even tighter curbs

Warrington will move into Tier 3 next week after council leaders agreed to a £6million support package from the Government.

The tightened restrictions – which will come into force from Thursday –  include the shuttering of pubs and betting shops. Residents are also advised against travelling outside of the north Cheshire town and overnight stays in other parts of the UK.

But officials successfully negotiated for leisure centres, gyms, fitness centres, beauty parlours, hairdressers and trampoline parks to stay open.

Talks with ministers concluded this morning with agreement, Warrington Borough Council said.

The ‘trigger point’ for the move to the highest alert level in England came as hospital capacity began to creak, they said, with 102 Covid-19 patients in beds across the Warrington and Halton Hospitals Trust.

The North West town, home to some 210,000 people, diagnosed 347 cases per 100,000 people in the week ending October 18. This is the 35th highest level in the country. Public Health England data shows 730 people in the town tested positive, and health chiefs say cases are climbing in older age groups.

It comes as Nottinghamshire is also rumoured to be on the verge of entering Tier Three. Gedling, Broxtowe and Rushcliffe are all expected to move into lockdown, but Mansfield will be excluded.

Nottingham city has had one of the most consistently high infection rates — 586.7 cases per 100,000 people were diagnosed in the week to October 18, second only to Knowsley. But it has dropped sharply since the previous week (926.7).

WHAT ARE THE RULES IN DIFFERENT TIERS OF LOCKDOWN?

TIER ONE 

Tier one restrictions mirror those already in place across England.

These include the rule of six, a 10pm curfew, group sport to be played outdoors only and a maximum of 15 guests at wedding ceremonies.  

TIER TWO 

Tier two restrictions mean people are prohibited from socialising with anybody outside their household or support bubble in any indoor setting

Two households may be allowed to meet in a private garden and public outdoor spaces, as long as the rule of six and social distancing are followed.

Tradespeople – such as plumbers and electricians – can continue to go into a household for work. 

TIER THREE 

Restaurants can open, but only until 10pm. 

Pubs and bars will be ordered to close unless they also operate as a restaurant.

This definition extends to pubs which sell ‘substantial’ meals, which like restaurants will be allowed to stay open but only serve alcohol to people eating a meal.

Locals are advised only to leave their areas for essential travel such as work, education or health, and must return before the end of the day.

Overnight stays by those from outside of these ‘high risk’ areas are also be banned. Households are not be allowed to mix either indoors or outdoors.     

Announcing the agreement, council leader Russ Bowden said: ‘As we approach winter, we need to take urgent action to drive down the number of coronavirus cases in our town.

‘After negotiations with the Government, we have agreed a package of measures and funding for Warrington that means our businesses and residents will get extra support. 

‘This has been a difficult decision but we need to prioritise the health of our most vulnerable and elderly people, and we also need to protect hospital capacity as far as possible.’

He added: ‘While we would have ideally liked a little more funding support, ultimately I think we have secured a very good package that will support our businesses and communities as we continue to do all we can to bring case numbers down.’

The deal was agreed during a call this morning with council chief executives Steven Broomhead and Councillor Bowden, as well as the deputy chief medical officer for England Jenny Harries and Downing Street adviser Ed Lister.

Of the £5.9million secured, around £1.68million will be allocated to support the council’s coronavirus testing and quarantine enforcement service, with the remaining £4.2million being used to support the town’s businesses and employment. 

Warrington MP Andy Carter told Sky News the decision was ‘inevitable’ due to the spiralling case numbers.

‘With infections being wide spread in the community the impact on care workers and our local NHS is also being felt, ward staffing levels at the hospital are under pressure because staff have to self isolate too.’

He added the action was aimed at bringing the virus ‘back under control’. It is expected to be reviewed in 28 days.

The Health Secretary told MPs yesterday that Warrington may be moved into the Tier 3 ‘very high’ alert level after announcing Stoke-on-Trent, Coventry and Slough were the latest areas to be put into Tier 2.

Matt Hancock told the House of Commons: ‘We are also formally beginning discussions with Warrington about moving into the ‘very high alert’ level due to the continuing rise of cases there.

‘I am worried about the rising cases especially amongst the over 60’s in Warrington. We’ve seen that case rate continue to rise despite the hard work of people locally since Warrington was moved into local alert level two.

‘There’s an excellent, excellent local hospital in Warrington but it is dealing with a very high number of cases and working actually with other local hospitals to ensure everyone gets the treatment they need.’

After talks yesterday Councillor Bowden said talks had been ‘honest and realistic’ and emphasised that if restrictions increased he would ‘do all I can to ensure there is an acceptable level of financial support made available for our businesses and their staff’.

He added: ‘We cannot ignore the stubbornly high case numbers of coronavirus in the town, with more people being admitted to hospital and, distressingly, more people being taken by the virus.’

Warrington’s infection rate has dropped by less than one per cent from the week ending October 11, when it was at 338.6 per 100,000.

Tier Three restrictions mean restaurants can open, but only until 10pm, and pubs and bars will be ordered to close unless they also operate as a restaurant. Betting shops and adult gaming centres will also be closed.

Locals are advised only to leave their areas for essential travel such as work, education or health, and must return before the end of the day.

Overnight stays by those from outside of these ‘high risk’ areas are also be banned. Households are not be allowed to mix either indoors or outdoors.

The rules largely mirror those in neighbouring Liverpool and Manchester, which are both battling against large outbreaks of Covid-19. 

More proof Britain’s Covid-19 outbreak is slowing down? SAGE believes R rate has dropped slightly 

An estimated 35,200 people caught coronavirus every day last week, according to official data published today – an increase of 26 per cent from the week before and double the figure a fortnight ago.

And SAGE now estimates that the R rate for the UK has fallen to between 1.2 and 1.4 – the first time it has fallen in a month – from 1.3 to 1.5 a week ago. Despite the shred of optimism, the Government advisers warned: ‘SAGE is almost certain that the epidemic continues to grow exponentially across the country.’

Although the data – considered the most reliable indicator of the true size of England’s outbreak – show the epidemic is still growing, they also suggest it may be slowing down.

Daily cases more than doubled between October 2 and 9, then increased by two thirds (62 per cent) the following week to 27,900 per day by the 9th of the month. But this week’s increase is significantly smaller at 26 per cent.

Professor James Naismith, a biologist at Oxford University, said the numbers suggest the doubling time of the epidemic has increased to around three weeks – a study in September had estimated it to be as low as seven days – which he said was ‘a hopeful sign’.

The data echoes comments by the UK’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, who said yesterday that there are now signs local lockdowns are starting to work and that case numbers are beginning to show ‘flattening’ in some areas.

Separate predictions by a King’s College London team make a similar estimate, that there are now 36,000 cases per day across the UK, with 28,000 of them in England.

The data come as local lockdown rules are springing up across the UK, with Warrington in Merseyside the latest to confirm it will impose Tier Three measures soon, while the same move is looming in Nottinghamshire.

Scientists have repeatedly called for a ‘circuit breaker’ national lockdown to try and stop the spiralling outbreak and ‘turn back the clock’ to allow the test and trace system to catch up and to prevent hospitals getting overwhelmed. Wards in the North West are filling up fast and reportedly have more patients now than in April.

It comes as talks over the city of Nottingham and other parts of the county entering Tier 3 restrictions are expected to continue today.  

Tier Three coronavirus restrictions are expected to come into force in parts of Nottinghamshire on Wednesday. The PA news agency understands that MPs from the Nottinghamshire region were briefed this morning that a Government announcement is due on Monday.

MPs from the north of the county were not invited to the meeting with health minister Nadine Dorries on Friday morning as rates in their constituencies are lower than the rest of the region, but it is understood Tier 3 restrictions in those areas will not be far behind.

The Nottinghamshire MPs present pressed the Government ministers to ‘improve communication’ with them and local leaders, it was reported. 

MPs also attempted to tackle the issue of financial support – with a source close to the meeting saying a question about a sufficient economic settlement would be ‘passed on to the Treasury’.

It is claimed Ms Dorries did not accept that the council had not had enough financial support.

Local leaders from both Nottingham City Council and Nottinghamshire County Council are expected to have a further meeting with the Government on Friday afternoon.  

Yesterday, a source familiar with the talks told Nottinghamshire Live that talks last night between the leaders of Nottingham City and Nottinghamshire County Council and ministers were ‘productive and successful’. 

After the meeting, Nottingham City Council tweeted: ‘Update: Talks are ongoing between Council Leaders and Government about the current Covid-19 situation.

‘Leaders continue to stress the need to protect the health and wellbeing of the population as well as local businesses. Further updates will be provided as the talks progress.’  

Nottingham city has had one of the most consistently high infection rates — 610.1 cases per 100,000 people were diagnosed in the week to October 18, second only to Knowsley. 

A whopping 2,031 cases were diagnosed in one week. It is understood to not have gone into higher alert already because its hospitals are not overwhelmed.

But this looks to be changing — Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust’s chief executive Tracy Taylor said the city’s Queen’s Medical Centre (QMC) has exceeded 200 patients with Covid-19 over the past few days and numbers were ‘increasing by nearly another full ward of people’ every day.  

The Chief Executive of Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust announced that the trust would be postponing non-urgent surgery until November 6 following a ‘dramatic increase’ of Covid patients in hospital. 

In a statement, she said: ‘We have made the difficult decision to postpone some of our non-urgent surgery and appointments until November 6 following a dramatic increase in the number of patients with Covid-19 in our hospital.

‘Over the last few days we have exceeded 200 patients with the virus in the hospital, and every day this is increasing by nearly another full ward of people.

‘This surge is now at levels similar to April and is combining with our normal winter emergency pressures. Unfortunately this means that we’ve had to make this difficult decision to pause some of the treatment we offer.’ 

Ms Taylor said people in need of emergency care should still attend the A&E department.

David Mellen, leader of Nottingham City Council, said local leaders were ‘keen to robustly discuss and understand any impact of Tier 3 given the approximate two-week time lag before we see any potential impact’.

He said cases had started to dwindle while in the current Tier 2 level; it’s infection rate went down sharply from 926.7 to 610.1 in one week.

Nottingham may soon also face Tier Three restrictions. Pictured is the city centre, which is emptier due to the pandemic

Nottingham may soon also face Tier Three restrictions. Pictured is the city centre, which is emptier due to the pandemic

‘As part of what we expect will be ongoing discussions starting today, we will be focused on negotiating a financial support package that will help protect the health of local people, save lives and also the livelihoods of local people and businesses in the city,’ Mr Mellen added.

The expected Tier 3 restrictions have coincided with a number of student parties which have been condemned by the county’s police force.

Nottinghamshire Police said after fining four students £10,000 for an illegal house party that the force dealt with more than 60 other students, with a further four parties shut down.

Police previously handed the maximum fine to four students who accused police officers of ‘spoiling their fun’ at a house party – saying ‘we should be having the time of our lives’.

Assistant Chief Constable Kate Meynell, of Nottinghamshire Police, said: ‘Despite a plea to stop these parties and only a day after we have given out considerable fines for exactly this, which should have served as a warning, we are still finding a number of students who think the law simply doesn’t apply to them.

‘We know the vast, vast majority of students who come and study in our city are following the rules and for this we really do want to thank them. But for some reason there is a small minority of students who are deliberately and provocatively flouting the rules like this and enough is enough.

‘It is illegal and there are very good reasons for that. By not complying with the rules they are increasing the spread of Covid in our city and surrounding areas.

‘I find it absolutely astounding that we need to keep repeating the same message again so quickly after issuing a strong plea earlier this week.’

Both the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University said any students found to have breached coronavirus restrictions could face exclusion.

It comes Mr Hancock announced Stoke-on-Trent, Coventry and Slough will move into a Tier 2 lockdown on Saturday, meaning another 745,000 people will be stung by tighter restrictions. 

Nearly 40million people across Britain will be living under lockdowns, once these measures are fully enforced.  

Abi Brown, Stoke-on-Trent’s city council leader, revealed she had written, with the support of the city’s three MPs, to the Health Secretary on Wednesday asking for the city to be moved up to Tier 2 restrictions.

She said the main reason for rising infections was community transmission and ‘people not being careful enough’ in homes, and smaller indoor spaces.

Addressing city councillors on Thursday as Matt Hancock announced Stoke’s move to high risk in the Commons, Ms Brown acknowledged the move meant ‘more sacrifice’ for residents.

But she said: ‘Let me be clear, without decisive action, Tier 3 is where we are heading and that would mean bars and other facilities closing, as well as other very tough measures we do not want to see in the city.’

It came after it was revealed that the NHS Nightingale Hospital in Manchester will reopen in the next week as the city heads into Tier 3. A local NHS boss today announced the temporary hospital, set up in the Manchester Central Conference Centre, will be brought back into use before the end of next week. It will become the first one in England to reopen.

It had closed in June when the first wave of the UK’s outbreak burned out, but there are now fears that local hospitals will be inundated with Covid patients again. The Nightingale will not be used to treat people seriously ill with coronavirus but instead opened to add capacity for ‘additional rehabilitation’.

The city is entering Tier Three lockdown rules from midnight on Friday after a week of wrangling between the Government and the mayor, Andy Burnham, because the city has one of the highest infection rates in England.   

source: dailymail.co.uk

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