North Yorkshire’s Tier 1 status is “hanging by a thread”, a local council chief has warned, with a decision on whether to impose tougher restrictions possibly coming as soon as this week.
Richard Webb, North Yorkshire County Council’s corporate director for Health and Adult Services, told a meeting of the North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum this morning that the situation was on a “knife-edge”.
Mr Webb said it would be better for the region to remain in Tier 1 but the were worrying trends in parts of North Yorkshire as neighbouring West Yorkshire looks likely to join South Yorkshire in Tier 3 restrictions.
“The situation in North Yorkshire is hanging by a thread,” he said.
“So, our way of operating and our livelihoods currently at Tier 1, the Medium level of alert, the lowest level of alert, is really on a knife-edge.
“We are hoping we can continue to be Tier 1 but we just don’t know.
“We are in a situation where most of the North of England is at a higher level of escalation than we are. On our doorstep, we have the situation in York which is at level 2, the situation in West and South Yorkshire and the Tees Valley as well.
“So we may be in a situation by the end of the week where part or the whole of the county moves into Tier 2.
“We hope we can avoid that and we are in active conversation with the Government and Public Health England but that does require all of us to take a step back and think about how we can prevent that happening.”
Mr Webb said that if people acted now they could save lives and keep businesses open and that he felt it was in the county’s best interest to remain in the Medium Tier 1 status.
He also revealed that the county had seen three “large” care home Covid-19 outbreaks in the last week.
Any decision of which Tier North Yorkshire is in would be made by the Secretary of State for Health Matt Hancock. Moving into Tier 2 would see households banned from mixing in any indoor setting.
North Yorkshire’s seven-day infection rate per 100,000 people does remain below the English average, with the county at 170.2 compared to the national figure of 219.5.
Selby is currently the only area in North Yorkshire with an infection rate above the national average.
North Yorkshire’s director of Public Health, Dr Lincoln Sargeant, said that while rates across the county were rising there were signs that the rate of the rise was beginning to slow.
He also said that areas around the county with higher infection rates were having an impact on North Yorkshire.
Dr Sargeant added: “Clearly particularly for Harrogate, Craven and Selby, those are the ones for the last few weeks among the ones with highest infection rates, there is a lot of connection with West Yorkshire and the Leeds city region in terms of people working in Leeds and neighbouring areas.
“It is probably not surprising when you look at the patterns of spread in North Yorkshire we find that with Skipton and South Craven there is clearly that connection with Bradford, Harrogate and Selby have strong connections with Leeds and York and South Yorkshire.
“Whatever happens in those areas has an impact in North Yorkshire. We see the same pattern in the north of the patch with Hambleton and Whitby which have a strong connection with the North East.”
The meeting also heard that there were currently 118 people in hospitals across the county with Covid-19, below the high of 300 at the peak of the pandemic.
However, the meeting was told the number of people being admitted to hospital was rising and that the patients tended to be younger than in the first wave, with more over 60s in hospital compared to mainly over 70s at the start.