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Which areas could be next for Tier 3 coronavirus restrictions?
20 October 2020, 11:25 | Updated: 21 October 2020, 09:33
The government has suggested that more areas in England could be moved to stricter Tier 3 restrictions in a bid to curb rising Covid cases. But where could be next to be placed under the tough new rules?
Tier 3 restrictions are already in place for the Liverpool City Region and Lancashire, with Greater Manchester forced into Tier 3 by the government on Wednesday after negotiations with local leaders broke down.
On Wednesday, it was announced that 1.4 million people living in South Yorkshire will also be living under Tier 3 restrictions from Saturday.
Suggested areas to next face the tough restrictions could include huge cities such as Leeds, Newcastle and Nottingham.
But where could be placed under Tier 3 restrictions next and what have local leaders said about the plans?
Where could be next to be put into Tier 3?
Downing Street has not dampened suggestions further areas could be added to Tier 3.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson's spokesman revealed discussions about moving places out of the Tier 2 list were already going ahead with local politicians.
Talks will take place over the introduction of the toughest coronavirus restrictions in West Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, the North East and Teesside.
What has the government said?
Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the House of Commons that further discussions will be held this week over whether the areas should go into England's highest COVID-19 alert level.
“Infection rates in Lancashire are among the highest in the country and are continuing to rise rapidly, including in the over-60s.
“Both the number of cases and the number of hospital admissions are doubling almost every fortnight and the number of Covid patients in intensive care beds in Lancashire has already reached nearly half the number seen at the height of the pandemic earlier this year.
“So we knew we had to take rapid action to suppress the epidemic in Lancashire. We’ve always said that we’d stand side by side with any local area that agreed to move into this third tier and offer substantial support to local authorities, including for testing, tracing, enforcement and business support.
“I’d like to thank local leaders in Lancashire who’ve been working with us so constructively and I’m sure that the willingness to put politics aside in the national interest and in the interests of the people who we serve will save lives and protect livelihoods at this difficult time.
“Following the successful introduction of measures in Liverpool and Lancashire, talks are continuing this afternoon led by (the Communities Secretary) with Greater Manchester, and this week further discussions are planned with West Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, the North East and Teesside."
What have local leaders said?
The prospect of new restrictions has been met with mixed reactions from local leaders.
The leader of Hartlepool Borough Council had a forthright message for anyone suggesting the town should be placed in Tier 3.
Shane Moore tweeted on Monday evening: "Apparently it was announced in the House of Commons earlier that there were talks happening in relation to #Hartlepool & wider #TeesValley going into Tier 3.
"This is untrue.
"No talks with us since update on Friday & if anyone suggests it to me this week they'll be told to sod off."
One MP whose constituency could potentially be affected by new restrictions said he was "not that optimistic" they would escape fresh measures.
Barry Sheerman, who represents Huddersfield in the House of Commons, told YorkshireLive: "I hope against hope that we are not going to go into the third tier but I'm not that optimistic."
And I still think it's inevitable that we have a circuit breaker over the half-term. I would rather that we have a short, sharp shock than not tackling it seriously."
And speaking ahead of discussions with the Government, Nottingham City Council leader councillor David Mellen said: "I am expecting to meet with Government this week as they consider whether we should be placed under Tier 3 restrictions.
"I will make it clear that we want a package that properly protects local people, businesses, jobs and education, whether it's for Tier 2 or Tier 3, and will need to speak to the Government first about the details of this.
"However, we have not waited for the Government to act against rising Covid cases in the city - almost a week before government finally placed us in Tier 2 we issued clear advice about not mixing indoors with people from other households unless they are in your support bubble.
"This week once again we are taking the lead and are writing to supermarkets to ask them to reinstate an allocated hour for older and vulnerable people. We are considering other community facilities where this could also be reintroduced.
"We have only just been placed in Tier 2 and infection rates are coming down. I want to thank everyone for their ongoing efforts to follow the rules, stop the spread of the virus and help save lives and livelihoods."
Gateshead Council leader Martin Gannon said the Government should listen to local politicians more about Tier 3 restrictions.
He said even taking into account the large number of students who have tested positive for coronavirus, "the underlying numbers are coming under control in the North East".
He said: "Matt Hancock and his colleagues need to stop dictating to us and start listening to our strategy, and to concede that they need to work with us, not against us."
Mr Gannon did not know when the next round of talks was planned and said previous meetings had been cancelled at short notice, once just three minutes ahead of an agreed start.