RUGBY and Warwickshire are to remain in Tier 3, the most severe ‘very high’ covid alert level, the Heath Secretary has announced.
Matt Hancock told the House of Commons that coronavirus cases were rising once more.
He said: “No one wants tougher restrictions any longer than necessary,” adding that where they are necessary they will be put in place to help ease pressure on the NHS.
“As we enter the coldest months we must be vigilant and keep this virus under control,” he said.
“Yesterday (Wednesday December 16), 25,161 cases were reported and there are 18,038 people in hospital with coronavirus in the UK. We must keep suppressing this virus.
“And this isn’t just a matter for government or for this House, it is a matter for every single person and these are always the most difficult months for people’s health and for the NHS.
“Especially with the vaccine already here, we must be cautious as we accelerate the vaccine deployment as per the winter plan.
“We’ve come so far, we mustn’t blow it now.”
Rugby Borough Council’s leader said the news comes as a blow to local hospitality businesses.
Coun Seb Lowe said: “Pubs and restaurants will be devastated by today’s news, especially as they are not the cause of transmission of the virus and have put a lot of effort into making their businesses safe. Nevertheless, the figures are clearly alarming with a sharp increase in cases and the infection rate in over 60s still too high.
“We all need to make sure that we keep our distance from others when shopping or on the school run, and keep wearing face coverings and washing or sanitising our hands.
“If we don’t take these precautions we could see a sharp rise in cases in the New Year. It is so important that we plan our Christmas celebrations so that we can keep our friends and family safe.”
Rugby MP Mark Pawsey added: “Very disappointed to see that Rugby and Warwickshire are not being taken down a tier. This decision will continue to have serious consequences for our pubs and restaurants.”
The initial decision to place Warwickshire in Tier 3 on December 2, following the second national lockdown, sparked anger among leaders and businesses as cases were comparatively lower than surrounding areas.
District council leaders argued the area should have been considered separately from Coventry and Solihull – which the county had been grouped with.
The infection rate in Rugby is 151 per 100,000 people today (Thursday December 17).
It reached a high of 283 on Nov 20, and was 158 when Warwickshire entered Tier 3 on December 2. The rate had dropped to 105 by Dec 11.
Across the country, areas in the east and south of England have been moved into Tier 3, with restrictions in Bristol and North Somerset reduced to Tier 2, and Herefordshire joining Cornwall, the Isles of Scilly and The Isle of Wight in Tier 1.