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Tier 3 Restrictions to commence as lockdown ends – a message from the Leader of the Council, Simon Tagg

Written by on 30 November 2020

You will all be aware of the Government’s decision this week to place the borough into Tier 3, along with the rest of Stoke and Staffordshire.

A key measure used to assess the risk and trajectory of infections is the number of cases per 100,000 population. Over the past few weeks the number of infections in the borough has been declining, indicating that the lockdown measures have had an impact.

Regrettably, this decline has not seen as sufficient by the Government to enable the borough to be in a lower tier. Today the borough has an infection rate of 360 per 100,000 people.

The restrictions at Tier 3 are summarised here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/local-restriction-tiers-what-you-need-to-know#very-high-alert

We will all be conscious that we are rapidly approaching Christmas and of the relaxation of arrangements at that time announced by the Government. The guidance for that period is summarised here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/making-a-christmas-bubble-with-friends-and-family/making-a-christmas-bubble-with-friends-and-family

The move to Tier 3 will have minimal impact on Council services, the majority of which are running as usual, albeit with most office-based officers working from home. Two areas that have been affected are:

  • Brampton Museum – in line with government guidance, this will remain closed while we are under Tier 3 restrictions.
  • Jubilee 2 – will be open for gym users and swimming from 3 December but, in line with the restrictions, will not be running any classes in the centre.  The team at J2 do continue to provide access to classes via Zoom, enabling members to exercise at home.

Community centres are also impacted, being allowed to open but not for social events or private hire for parties.

The Council is rapidly processing applications for grant support funding for businesses impacted by the lockdown, and now by the Tier 3 restrictions.  There are two grant programmes – one for businesses which have been required to close, and one for those which can trade, but have been adversely impacted. This is particularly important for those hospitality sector business that are suffering at what would normally be their busiest time of year.

This link provides details of these schemes and the support available: https://www.newcastle-staffs.gov.uk/all-services/your-council/public-notices/coronavirus-covid-19-information

In Tier 3 all retail will once again be able to open across the borough.

We have a team of officers working as Covid marshalls who provide a presence at the busiest times to encourage people to follow Covid safe practices, who also engage with businesses to advice on opening arrangements and, where necessary, start the process of enforcement.

During December the town will host two specialist markets – each focussed on local crafts and produce. Whilst facilitating trading, these events are designed to draw people into the town and hopefully support all of our local businesses in a Covid safe and secure way.

At the start of the local lockdown the Council and our partners at the Realise Foundation stepped up the arrangements for support to vulnerable residents who may require support to self-isolate – for example through food or medicine deliveries, or through social contact.  Take up has been low, reflecting the extent to which people have adjusted to the changed circumstances, but the support will nonetheless remain available.

Work continues to engage with rough sleepers and people at risk of becoming homeless, to ensure that as many as possible are placed into temporary accommodation quickly.

Finally, we have continued to utilise Zoom to deliver our schedule of committee meetings, with the provision of space in Castle House for elected members to join meetings in person – where they cannot reliably do so from home.

Officers are now refreshing the risk assessment ahead of the meeting of Full Council scheduled for 16 December, which we expect once again to run as a hybrid meeting, with socially distanced attendance in person at the J2 Studio and others being able to participate via Zoom.

I hope you find this update and information useful.

Simon Tagg, Leader Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council