Bristol moves into new 'Tier 1 Plus' of covid restrictions

28 October 2020, 13:38 | Updated: 28 October 2020, 16:18

By Joe Cook

The Mayor of Bristol has announced the city is moving into a new coronavirus tier called “Tier 1 plus”, potentially confusing the government’s three tier system.

Mayor Marvin Rees told a press conference on Wednesday that the city is “looking at a Tier 1 plus approach” which will include “targeted actions” to reduce the spread of the virus.

Tier 1 plus is understood to include tighter enforcement of current restrictions, the introduction of eight Covid marshals and a targeted focus on working adults aged 30 to 60.

It will also include more local control over contact tracing, with Mr Rees describing the national Test and Trace scheme as “failing”.

Bristol’s Director of Public Health, Christina Gray, said the Tier 1 plus system was a local concept rather than a national one.

However, it could be seen to confuse the Government’s three tier system, which was introduced earlier in October in response to criticism over the complexity of local restrictions.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said there are three tiers "enshrined in law" and they are "not considering the introduction of a 'plus' system".

They added: “Bristol is currently at medium and local leaders have the authority to bring in some additional measures for their area and we welcome local efforts to break chains of transmission.”

Ms Gray told the press conference: "The Tier 1 plus is because we recognise the importance of maintaining people's livelihoods, and the hospitality sector is the most difficult to manage safely.

"In order to keep open, we need to drive down infections."

The new Covid marshals are expected to target their action on weekends and evenings. The Mayor said they will not drive enforcement, which will remain with the police and local authority, but will encourage people to increase compliance and clean touch points.

They will be supported by new data driven messaging from the City Council, aimed at increasing social distancing compliance in public spaces.

The Mayor also revealed that one hospitality venue has been closed for "repeated failures to provide a Covid safe environment" and said enforcement would be stepped up, with police to be involved with that effort.

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Mayor Rees warned Bristol would face the "inevitable" prospect of further restrictions if infections continued to rise.

"Any further actions will be based on what we’re seeing locally, and through discussion with our local partners across the city and central Government," he said.

"It is vital that we all work together to keep to behaviours to stop the spread of the virus; stick to the ‘Rule of Six’ with those not in your household or support bubble both in indoor and outdoor settings, maintain social distancing and wear a face covering when indoors in mandatory settings.”

Bristol had 340.7 cases per 100,000 in the seven days up to October 23, considerably higher than the 227.9 per 100,000 for the previous 7 day. The current English average is 222.8 per 100,000.

Ms Gray said that she could "not fault the universities" in the city for rising cases, explaining that it was relatively easy to contain outbreaks among the under-30s.

The outbreak is now being driven by the 30 to 60 age group, with household mixing at the root of the rise, she continued.