Steve Allen 4am - 7am
South Yorkshire enters Tier 3 coronavirus restrictions
24 October 2020, 07:03
More than a million people in South Yorkshire who have entered the highest level of coronavirus restrictions have been told to be under "no illusions" that "these measures are needed".
More than 1 million people woke up to the new restrictions this morning.
It means households will be banned from mixing except in parks and other open spaces while pubs and bars will have to close unless they serve meals.
Sheffield City Region mayor Dan Jarvis sent an open letter to the residents of the county just hours before the Tier 3 restrictions began in Sheffield, Rotherham, Barnsley and Doncaster just after midnight on Saturday.
Mr Jarvis led the team which negotiated with the Government for nearly a fortnight before announcing the move, which comes with a £41 million support package, earlier this week.
The Labour Barnsley Central MP said in his letter: "I understand the weariness with which many of you will have heard this news.
"After the progress we made over the summer, the return to stricter restrictions is deeply frustrating.
"Many of you will be fearing for your families, your livelihoods, your future.
"Some of you will be wondering if these measures are worth it.
"Those feelings are understandable. But we should be under no illusions. These measures are needed. The scientific advice is that they can help.
"We still have a difficult path ahead, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
"These restrictions will help us reach it sooner, and at a lower cost."
Mr Jarvis said South Yorkshire communities now have some of the highest numbers of cases in the north of England and infection rates are still going up.
On Wednesday Mr Jarvis admitted he could not have secured any more cash, saying he "moved heaven and earth to secure the maximum amount of resource that we could".
Following the announcement, Sheffield City Council leader Julie Dore called the negotiations with Government "a charade", saying it was clear Downing Street officials and ministers were going through the motions for 10 days just to try and prove they were listening.
It comes as talks were continuing between the government and local leaders in Nottinghamshire, with parts of the county expected to enter Tier 3 on Wednesday.
.In Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has set out a five-tier series of controls which will come into force on November 2 if they are approved next week by the Holyrood Parliament.
In England, ministers have said they hope the latest measures will suppress the virus sufficiently to enable families to spend Christmas together.
Meanwhile data from the Government Office for Science and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) shows the estimate for R for the whole of the UK is between 1.2 and 1.4.
Last week, the R number was between 1.3 and 1.5 - and scientists signalled that although the number of new cases in England has doubled in the past fortnight, the rate of growth may be slowing.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released on Friday estimates there was an average of 35,200 new cases per day of Covid-19 in the community in England between 10 and 16 October.
Since Monday, almost 5,000 Covid-19 cases have been reported in Wales and hospitalisations continue to climb to levels not seen since early May.
In the rest of the UK, a further 19,769 people tested positive for Covid-19 in the past day - a slight drop from the day before.