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Kent tier restrictions hanging in the balance

Kent remains on a knife edge as politicians remain undecided about what coronavirus restrictions the county will face from next week, KentOnline can reveal.

The government is expected to make a crunch announcement tomorrow about which areas of the country will be in tier one, two or three after England’s lockdown ends on December 2.

Boris Johnson will unveil the new tiers
Boris Johnson will unveil the new tiers

Seven Kent MPs earlier today called for Covid rules to be imposed on a borough or district level rather than county-wide in a letter sent to Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

County councillors in Kent met behind closed doors tonight to discuss the fate of the 13 districts. It was revealed that no decision from Whitehall has been made.

This comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson faces a growing revolt from his backbench MPs over 'unfair' rules in 'extremely diverse' communities, such as the Garden of England.

Swale and Thanet have both recorded around 500 weekly cases per 100,000 people as they have some of the highest rates of infection in the country. This would indicate a top tier of restrictions would be needed. It would mean pubs, hotels and restaurants will remain shut.

However, some districts, such as Tunbridge Wells, have reported around 137 weekly cases while one part of Sevenoaks recorded just three.

Tonbridge and Malling MP Tom Tugendhat, who sent the letter to the government, said: “We must allow businesses to prosper and not be held back by restrictions not suitable for their area.

“We trust that the government will introduce restrictions on a borough or district basis to ensure that the right approach is used across each community.”

The Local Democracy Reporting Service understands that Kent County Council (KCC) has also invited the Army to help with the rollout of mass coronavirus testing. The “lateral flow” device will give out results within 30 minutes and is similar to a pregnancy test.

Around 2,000 soldiers were drafted into Liverpool to deliver tests in a city-wide pilot this month.

KCC’s public health director, Andrew Scott-Clark, warned that widespread testing would be a "huge logistical exercise" and Kent will need the right infrastructure in place for it to work effectively.


County councilors were also told about worrying outbreaks of coronavirus in Kent hotspots, including Swale prisons and a care home in Dover.

Hospitals remain under severe pressure, especially Medway Maritime Hospital, which has seen more than half of its intensive care beds filled with Covid patients.

Meanwhile, Kent’s local contact tracing system is expected to go live by the end of this week to bolster the national effort. People will be contacted and told to self-isolate by local call handlers.

Mr Johnson will make a final announcement on the tier system tomorrow at 11.30am.

For the latest coronavirus news and advice, click here.

Read more: All the latest news from Kent

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