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Dartford council leader talks about London moving to Tier 2 coronavirus restrictions and what it means for those living near city

From Saturday London will move to tighter 'Tier 2' coronavirus restrictions meaning in some parts of Kent the difference between grabbing a pint with your mate or having to log back on to Zoom will be mere metres.

Essex will also be moved in to the 'high risk' category but the presence of the Thames clears up any ambiguity over that particular border.

Dartford council leader Jeremy Kite speaks to KMTV

Entering the London Borough of Bexley if you live in Dartford, however, is simply a case of crossing the road.

Dartford council leader Jeremy Kite said while he had not heard anything about Dartford specifically he would encourage residents to take similar actions voluntarily as those living in places like Bromley and Bexley.

He said: “This virus doesn’t respect borders. It doesn’t give a damn about our ambitions, our plans or our hopes. It doesn’t care about Christmas parties, going to the football, theatres or cinema it just transmits when people get close to each other.

“We are all fed up with these restrictions but I do think we have to understand these things are being done for the good of all.

London will move into Tier 2 at midnight tomorrow Picture: iStock
London will move into Tier 2 at midnight tomorrow Picture: iStock

“There is always going to be places on the border where on one side of the street they might be able to do one thing and one side they will be able to do the other.

“It plays into my narrative really which is I think for people in borderline areas like Dartford my encouragement would be to adopt as many of those restrictions anyway, adopt them anyway.

“Don’t see them as an imposition see them as part of the plan to stop Covid. Even in Dartford I think it is sensible for people to adopt as many of those vulnerable restrictions as possible.”

He added: "The journey from the first lockdown to a return to normal life was always likely to have some twist and turns.

“I don’t think we cant afford to be nervous I think we have got to look at these things as being part of that journey from the first lockdown to a relative sense of normality. I don’t think any of us thought that journey would be easy.

“And while it is easy to be negative about these things when they happen I have to think we have to look at the impact and what they are for. They are designed to prevent the virus spreading, it is still a virulent thing and can have a dreadful impact on people."

The Conservative council leader said the tier system was likely to throw up difficulties for people who have family connections but added: “This is I’m afraid part of the huge dilemma that people in leadership and medicine have.”

“We either take steps to stop the prevent the spreading or we don’t. I think as a community we have to think of ways to reach out to those people that are finding it difficult.

“When it first began it was about food emergencies and people being very worried about how they were going to get through the day. Now I think the big issues are emotional and mental health issues and issues over family connections.

“As a community leadership we have got to look away ways of helping people with that and supporting them and letting them know we care about them and do appreciate the sacrifices being made."

Mr Kite said he believes three-tier system had brought “clarity”.

He said: “The three tier alert system means an area can move backwards as well as forwards but it does at least provide the simple, clear messaging that I think we all want to see.

“When a community moves from one tier to another I guess we must remember it’s not just about the restrictions.

“It’s a reflection of what’s actually happening in an area and the steps we must take to suppress the spread of Covid.”

He added: “I hope they don’t change it, we don’t want different kinds of systems and we don’t want different kinds of measurements.

“With a bit of luck if three tier system begins to take hold and people can understand they underlying reasons for it.

“I’m pleased to see a three tier system because I think it is simpler to understand for all of us.

And of course it is harder than March and April because of then we were seized of this as a national objective.

“Now coming back several months later we are all pig sick of this, we are all absolutely fed up with these restrictions and I think therefore trying to get the message across is hard. But we have to do it otherwise we are going to being putting people’s lives at risk.”

What does Tier 2 mean?

Tier two means household mixing indoors is banned, so many families from Kent will no longer be able to travel up to see relatives in their homes.

Tier 2 is the middle level and means there is a 'high risk' of Covid-19.

Under new rules set out by Boris Johnson on Monday those in any of the city's boroughs, including Bromley and Bexley , cannot meet in their homes or venues like pubs and restaurants unless they are part of the same 'support bubble'.

People are advised to avoid public transport but no schools or businesses will be forced to close.

The 'Rule of Six' will continue to apply outdoors, meaning households can mix in parks, while the 10pm curfew on hospitality venues will remain in place.

MPs have been told cases are doubling every seven to 10 days in the city.

Will Kent follow?

While Kent is considered 'medium risk' (Tier 1) and while cases are increasingly rapidly in Sevenoaks and Tunbridge Wells it is not expected the county will move to a new tier in the immediate future.

For the latest coronavirus news and advice, click here.

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