Yorkshire escapes highest level of coronavirus alert system

Yorkshire has so far steered clear of being placed into the most urgent category of the Government’s new system to try and bring Covid-19 under control.

Liverpool City Region has been placed in Tier Three, the most restrictive of the Government’s three-tier coronavirus lockdown measures.

But West Yorkshire and South Yorkshire have been placed in the less restrictive Tier Two level, meaning pubs and restaurants will remain open. The measures will come into effect on Wednesday.

Mayor of the Sheffield City Region, Dan Jarvis, responded to the news: “The Chancellor says he has a comprehensive plan to protect jobs and businesses, but the reality is there a gaping holes in the support on offer to regions like South Yorkshire.

“South Yorkshire is currently placed on ‘high alert’ and should not have to see the situation deteriorate to the worst-case scenario before the Treasury steps in. Lives and livelihoods will be lost.

“It’s reckless to impose new restrictions if they do not go hand in hand with a local lockdown lifeline. Otherwise regional leaders are trying to protect lives, jobs and businesses on the cheap.

“I will be raising the matter with the Chancellor and Ministers at the earliest opportunity, to ensure our region receives the resources we need to get the virus under control.”

The West Yorkshire council leaders have echoed Jarvis’ sentiment and called for additional funding while highlighting the role local government must play in navigating the region through concurrent challenges this winter including Covid, Brexit and weather related events.

Roger Marsh, chairman of the NP11 (Northern Powerhouse 11) and Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “We are deeply concerned by the surge in COVID-19 cases throughout the North and the subsequent impact of the pandemic on the health and economy of our region.

“The North has already been disproportionally affected by the pandemic, with a number of our local authorities now placed into the ‘High’ and ‘Very High’ risk areas.

“Whilst we support restrictions to reduce the spread of the virus, these must be kept to a minimum and supported with clear scientific data and local authority assistance from Government.

“Many businesses throughout the North, particularly those in hospitality, have been left with an uncertain future by today’s announcement.

“As we head into what will be a challenging winter, we need urgent, co-ordinated, and far-reaching action to safeguard our communities, protect our local economies, and prevent a devastating levelling down effect.

“Our offer to Government is to work in partnership with us and other local leaders to forge a long-term strategy out of lockdown, whilst providing financial support packages for businesses, organisations and employees in the ‘High’ and ‘Very High’ risk areas.

“There can be no trade-off between the economy and health: one cannot function without the other.

“The North will be integral to the future economic recovery and prosperity of the nation. That’s why we are united in our commitment with the Government to levelling up and unlocking the full potential of our region.

“However, without financial support and collaboration with local authorities, central government risks its levelling-up commitment.”

Tracy Brabin, Labour MP for Batley & Spen in West Yorkshire and candidate for West Yorkshire Mayor, said: “Disappointing that our communities now have to come to terms with new restrictions.

“However Tier 2 means many businesses can remain open and people can still take part in many parts of their daily lives which is so important to mental health and wellbeing.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson made the announcement this afternoon in the House of Commons. He said: “Engagement with other leaders in the North West, the North East and Yorkshire and Humber is continuing.”

Tier One represents a medium alert level, which covers most of the country. Tier Two is judged as high alert, while Tier Three is very high levels of alert.

Tier Two, which will cover much of Yorkshire, aims to reduce household-to-household transmission by preventing all mixing between different households or support bubbles, indoors.

Labour leader Kier Starmer responded to the PM’s announcement saying: “The question today is whether the restrictions announced by the prime minister can bring the country back from the brink.”

He added that it “increasingly feels like the PM is several steps behind the curve.”

Beckie Hart, CBI Yorkshire & Humber regional director, said: “Business supports the simplification of Covid rules with three tiers of restrictions.

“But this remains very tough news for thousands of firms that have done so much to keep customers and employees safe.

“Now clear rules are in place, good, open communication is essential. Businesses in the worst-affected areas have too often had to plan on rumour or react last minute.

“This can be solved with more collaboration between business, central and local governments. Restoring a sense of national unity is critical for tackling the virus.

“To maintain confidence and compliance, Government must show more of its evidence base for new restrictions. And to protect jobs, it should keep financial support under review and in lockstep with the severity of the restrictions.

“Ultimately, mass rapid testing must really ramp up if we’re to prevent a second wave from further harming economic growth.”