Today the government in London has announced that the Dorset Council and Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council areas will be remaining in tier two for Covid restrictions.
Several factors are considered when looking at the tier system. Along with headline infection rates, the government also looks at the infection rate in older people, the impact on the care sector and pressure on local hospitals – all of which continue to be a concern in both council areas.
The impact of the national lockdown in November was successful in driving down cases across both local authority areas but with the move into tier two this downward trend has levelled off.
Sam Crowe, Director of Public Health for Dorset and BCP Councils said: ‘I understand people may feel frustrated and disappointed by this decision. Locally, we have seen the reduction in case rates level off and plateau in recent days and our hospital system remains under pressure.
‘Tier one restrictions would not be enough to continue to bring our rates down, and we would risk having to go back into tougher measures.
‘Most people have been doing a really good job in complying with the measures and I’d urge everyone not to drop their guard, and to keep social contact to a minimum, particularly over the five days of reduced restrictions over Christmas.
Areas will need to show a sustained fall before being considered for moving down tiers.
Councillor Spencer Flower, Leader of Dorset Council, said: ‘I am disappointed that the Dorset Council area will remain in Tier 2, as we know the rate of COVID infection here is one of the lowest in the country. However, with it being so close to Christmas bubble restrictions coming into force, I understand the concerns the Government has and certainly wouldn’t want to see cases rise.
‘The people of Dorset have worked really hard and made sacrifices over many months. I’d like to thank them once again for their efforts. If we can continue what we are doing now, we can hopefully go back into Tier 1 in the very near future.’
Councillor Nicola Greene, cabinet member for covid resilience and public health said: ‘I share the disappointment of all those who were hoping for our area to be moved to a tier one alert level. Everyone has clearly worked so hard to reduce the spread of the virus locally but we must all keep at it a little longer. And let’s focus on the thing we can do safely – shops are open and you can head out with your household or bubble for a meal or a coffee, or grab a takeaway and meet family and friends outside as long as you follow the rule of six. Our businesses really need our support at the moment – so if you can safely support them, please do.’
*Wiltshire hasalso been confirmed as remaining in the COVID-19 Tier 2 category, following the government review.