Staffordshire is to be escalated to Tier 4 for Covid-19 – meaning tough new restrictions for both residents and businesses in the county.
The government confirmed today that Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent will join Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Sandwell, Walsall, Dudley, Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire in moving to Tier 4 from 00:01am on Thursday December 31.
Alan White, Staffordshire County Council’s Leader, said the announcement will come as a devastating blow to businesses which will now have to close their doors once again. People are also being advised to stay home and only go out locally if absolutely necessary.
Alan said: “The new highly contagious strain of Covid-19 is now sweeping the country and in Staffordshire we are now set to face the toughest restrictions.
“Today’s news will be devastating for many businesses who after the toughest year possible will now have to close once more.
“This is not where any of us wanted to be and the priority for 2021 is to get cases back under control and persuade the Government that restrictions can be eased in Staffordshire.
“While this morning’s announcement on the approval of the new AstraZeneca vaccine is very welcome, it will be some months before we see the benefits and we must stay vigilant to protect lives this winter.
“It remains a big ask but we must do everything we can to make this happen as quickly as possible. By following the basics, staying home as much as possible and taking part in our major roll out of community testing if asked to do so is the best and only chance of Staffordshire moving out of Tier 4.”
The average seven-day Covid rate in Staffordshire and the West Midlands is around 270 per 100,000 population, compared to the England rate of 390. The rate in East Staffordshire is more than 300 per 100,000 population.
The Tier 4 restrictions for Staffordshire mean:
Stay at home. You must not leave your home unless you have a “reasonable excuse” such as work, education, essential shopping or medical appointments
In general, you must not meet socially. However, you can exercise or meet in a public outdoor place with people you live with, your support bubble or with one other person
You must not meet indoors socially with any other household, unless part of your support bubble
Clinically extremely vulnerable people are advised not to work if they cannot work from home
All shops deemed non-essential by the Government must close
Hairdressers and barbers must close
Indoor entertainment venues must close
Gyms and indoor swimming pools, indoor sports courts and dance studios must close
Full details can be found at www.gov.uk/coronavirus
Staffordshire is also one of 67 local authorities to take part in the roll out of rapid testing for people without symptoms – with up to 10 per cent of the population eventually set to be tested every week.
Dr Richard Harling, Director of Health and Care, said: “If you live in a Covid hotspot then please do take part in our community testing programme for people without symptoms.
“Identifying more people who have the virus, so they can self-isolate, will help us reduce the spread of infection
“We also all need to remember the basics of: Washing our hands regularly, wearing a face covering and keeping our distance. All are simple steps, which together can make all the difference.”