The government has released a short explanation of why it has placed North Yorkshire in Tier 2 coronavirus restrictions from the end of the national lockdown next week.
It was announced yesterday that the county will be the only region in Yorkshire and the North East to be subject to the Tier 2 ‘high’ alert measures – with all other areas coming under the toughest Tier 3 restrictions.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed that the restriction category for each local authority will be reviewed every 14 days, starting 16 December.
A summary for the decision to place North Yorkshire in Tier 2, which was posted online by the government, said: “Overall case rates (including for those over 60) in this region are improving in seven of the eight local authorities and lower than other parts of Yorkshire and The Humber but remain high overall (202/100,000 in all age groups and 145/100,000 for those aged over 60).
“Positivity is 8.5%. Rates in Scarborough are significantly higher than the rest of the region (334/100,000 in all age groups and 247/100,000 in those aged over 60) but falling rapidly.”
The decision about which tier to place an area in is based on the total number of Covid cases, the number of cases in the over 60s, the rate at which cases are rising or falling, the proportion of test results coming back positive and pressure on the NHS.
The return to the tiered system when lockdown ends on 2 December will be followed by a relaxation of rules at Christmas which will allow up to three households to meet over the festive period.
However, health officials are warning the move risks a third wave of Covid which could hit when the NHS is at peak pressure in January and February.
Dr Lincoln Sargeant, North Yorkshire’s director of public health, said: “We must not forget that just a couple of months ago a rate of 20 per 100,000 was enough to put Scarborough and Selby on the watch list, because this virus spreads at speed, so we cannot afford to lower our guard.
“People’s lives depend on our individual efforts as well as the health of our economy and the survival of our businesses. We cannot afford to forget that.
“We simply cannot afford to stay in Tier 2 because this reflects that people are dying and means businesses are suffering.
“Last week over 20 people died of Covid and three people have died in the last day alone. We still have 54 Covid outbreaks in care homes across York and North Yorkshire.
“So I am asking all of you to abide by the restrictions we will be placed under following the end of lockdown next week and above all refrain from household mixing – the single most significant factor in the spread of Covid.
“This is where the virus can do its most damage and spread quickly between friends and family.”