LUTON will be designated a tier 2 (HIGH alert) category by central government when the current national lockdown ends on Wednesday (December 2).
All of Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes has been placed in the same tier and the government guidelines will apply across the whole of this area.
This decision underlines the seriousness of the situation in the town and the absolute need to reduce the number and rate of infections as a matter of urgency.
The current nationwide restrictions to stay at home as much as possible will apply until next Wednesday, but beyond December 2 the following important restrictions will apply across Bedfordshire.
- You must not socialise with anyone you do not live with or who is not in your support bubble in any indoor setting, whether at home or in a public place.
- You must not socialise in a group of more than 6 people outside, including in a garden or a public space – this is called the ‘rule of 6’.
- Businesses and venues can continue to operate, in a COVID-Secure manner, other than those which remain closed by law, such as nightclubs.
- Pubs and bars must close, unless operating as restaurants. Hospitality venues can only serve alcohol with substantial meals.
A full list of the tier 2 guidelines is available at gov.uk. This includes guidance on what you can do when passing through or travelling to areas in different tiers, as well is guidelines on places of worship, weddings, funerals, sport, leisure, entertainment and hospitality.
Luton Council’s interim director of public health Lucy Hubber said: “The new tier 2 restrictions and the number of rising cases in Luton mean we cannot relax for a moment. While there has been a levelling off in the infection rates over the last week due to the sacrifices people are making, our rates are still too high with large numbers of new positive cases being reported each day.
“This means we cannot relax for a moment. We need to continue to do all we can to get them lower.
“In addition to following the government guidance, everyone has the power to make a real difference by following the basic rules of Hands-Face-Space; and to self-isolate if you have any symptoms or are contacted by Test and Trace. If everyone plays their part, we will cut the transmission and save lives.”
Council leader Hazel Simmons said: “The government’s decision to place us in tier 2 along with the rest of the county will be hard for many, especially as we enter the festive season. The fact that our rates have levelled off is encouraging but at the same time they haven’t decreased as much as other parts of the country during the current lockdown.
“This means that we all still need to take responsibility and do our bit to protect ourselves and those we love.
“As a town we have worked together in the past to lower infection rates and we are confident we can rise to the challenge again. This dreadful disease is a killer and we all need to play our part in defeating it.”
The government’s tier system differentiates between regions of the country and aims to suppress the transmission of coronavirus by using a sliding scale of restrictions designed to limit social interaction.
The government designates tier 2 areas as being those that have a higher or rapidly rising level of infections, where some additional restrictions need to be in place.
Luton Council will publish details on further support and grants available to businesses in the coming days, a spokesman said.
Mayor’s appeal: Keep yourself, your friends, your family and your community safe
BEDFORD is also in tier 2, with similar restrictions imposed as in Luton.
Mayor Dave Hodgson said “The government has introduced these new strengthened tiers regionally, with different tiers in place in different parts of the country. Bedford Borough has joined Central Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes in going into the Tier Two- High Alert level.
“Coronavirus is spread through social contact – through us seeing people. That is why we are being asked to not mix indoors with other households that are not part of our support bubble, and to meet outdoors in groups of no more than six.
“Infections in Bedford Borough are still high so in the run-up to Christmas, please be cautious and do everything you can to keep slowing the spread of coronavirus.
“By minimising social contact with those outside of your household, by washing your hands regularly, wearing a face covering if you can and keeping two metres apart from other people, you will be helping to keep yourself, your friends and family, and your community safe.”
For updates on what’s happening locally, visit the council’s dedicated webpage at www.bedford.gov.uk/covid19
A statement from Central Bedfordshire Council, which is also in Tier 2, said: “The government announced today that Central Bedfordshire will be required to follow the Tier 2 measures when we move out of the national restrictions on 2 December.
“Please continue to play your part in controlling the virus to protect loved ones, protect the NHS, protect the economy, and protect us from tougher restrictions.”