South Yorkshire to enter Tier 3 restrictions from Saturday

21 October 2020, 09:09 | Updated: 21 October 2020, 11:23

Sheffield will be under Tier 3 restrictions from Saturday
Sheffield will be under Tier 3 restrictions from Saturday. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

Sheffield City Region Mayor Dan Jarvis says South Yorkshire will enter Tier 3, the highest coronavirus restrictions in England, from Saturday.

It means 1.4 million people in South Yorkshire will join the Liverpool City Region, Greater Manchester and Lancashire in Tier 3, meaning 7.3 million people, or 13% of England's population, will now be living under the toughest restrictions.

The new restrictions will affect people living in Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield.

The agreement with the Government is worth £41 million, including £30 million to support the region's businesses, and £11 million for councils to support measures such as test and trace.

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Mr Jarvis confirmed that from Saturday, pubs and restaurants will be closed, as well as soft play areas, casinos and gaming centres. Wedding receptions are also banned.

However, gyms and leisure centres are to stay open following a government u-turn to allow the same in Liverpool, which is already under Tier 3 restrictions.

The decision comes with £11m for track and trace and £30m for business support from the government.

Boris Johnson is set to make a statement on restrictions in South Yorkshire today, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said.

With the number of people in hospital with Covid-19 having doubled over the past 10 days, he said that leaders had no choice but to act.

"We all recognise the gravity of the situation and have taken the responsible route to ensure we save lives and livelihoods, and protect our NHS. Inaction was not an option,"" he said.

"While infection rates vary across South Yorkshire, collective action was the only practical choice to keep everyone in our region safe."

Mr Jarvis said that if the measures were effective, individual authorities would be able to move to lower alert levels as soon as it was safe to do so.

However he said that to reach that situation as quickly as possible it was "critical" that people followed the new rules.

"The character and grit of people in South Yorkshire will be needed in abundance to help us get through what will be an incredibly challenging period," he said.

"Our NHS staff have worked tirelessly throughout this pandemic to keep us all safe. We owe it to them to ease the pressure ahead of the toughest winter our health service will ever face. I know people will step up and do their bit."

Ros Jones, the mayor of Doncaster, said she understood the concerns of residents and companies, but cautioned: "There is an undeniable truth in that our infection rates are spiralling upwards."

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick tweeted: "South Yorkshire will move from Local Covid Alert Level High to Very High from 00.01 on Saturday 24 Oct. I would like to thank Dan Jarvis & the leaders of the local councils of South Yorkshire for the constructive discussions we have had.

"Given rates are amongst the highest in the country I am pleased that we were able to reach an agreement that ensures swift action is taken in accordance with the public health advice.

"I fully recognise the huge impact this will have on communities in the area and the sacrifices people will be making. That's why we have agreed an extensive package of support for local people, businesses and councils.

"The restrictions agreed together will only be in place for as long as they are absolutely necessary. They will be reviewed jointly in 28 days time. The Govt will be working with local leaders as we tackle this challenge, for the benefit of all the people of S Yorkshire."

Barnsley Council leader Sir Steve Houghton said: "Although these additional restrictions come as no surprise, it's difficult to see our borough in such a severe situation.

"We understand the impact this virus is having on people's daily lives and on jobs and businesses, but Barnsley cases are spreading from young to old, putting more lives in danger, leading to more people in our hospital, more people becoming seriously ill, and sadly more people dying. We must act now to save lives and prevent our NHS from being overwhelmed. "

Sir Steve added: "Our Barnsley Outbreak Control Plan is driving our local approach to reduce the impact of Covid-19 in our communities. It provides us with a route to exit local restrictions when cases are under control, and it's safe to ease restrictions."

South Yorkshire police and crime commissioner Dr Alan Billings said: "If going into Tier 3 is necessary to stop the relentless spread of coronavirus, then the police will have a role in enforcing the new restrictions, for all our sakes.

"Having spoken to the chief constable and senior officers, I have no doubt that they will continue to do this in a proportionate way, but we should be in no doubt that there will be enforcement activity if people wilfully flout the law.

"Of course, the police cannot be everywhere all the time. It is essential, therefore, that we all play our part.

"Equally, the Government need to understand that people will continue to observe the rules as long as they feel that what is being proposed is not just reactive, but part of a longer term strategy to defeat the virus.

"How the Tier 3 restrictions fit into that strategy needs careful, constant and consistent explanation."

It comes as Boris Johnson stood firm against mayor Andy Burnham in Greater Manchester and put the area into a Tier Three lockdown from Friday.

Speaking at yesterday’s coronavirus briefing, Mr Johnson said not to act now would put the lives of Manchester’s residents at risk.

Local politicians have reacted angrily to the news, calling the way Tier 3 coronavirus restrictions are being introduced in Greater Manchester "spiteful, vindictive and nasty".

Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed £22 million of support would be available for local authorities, despite Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham pushing for £65m to support the livelihoods of people in the region as they face the closure of pubs, bars, bookmakers and other premises.

The Government is yet to confirm if there will be any extra cash for businesses.

On Tuesday, Chancellor Rishi Sunak told Labour MPs and Shadow Chancellor Annelise Dodds that a return to nationwide restrictions would be "enormously damaging" for the economy.

"It's very clear that the party opposite thinks we should have a rolling programme of national lockdowns," he said.

"What I can tell [Ms Dodds] is that would be enormously damaging for people's jobs and livelihoods, causing unnecessary pain and suffering in parts of the country where the virus prevalence is low.

"A localised approach is the best approach."