Published: 00:01, 28 October 2020
| Updated: 00:02, 28 October 2020
The whole of Nottinghamshire could face Tier 3 restrictions after a surge in cases in northern areas of the county.
Tougher Covid-19 rules for Nottingham city and the Broxtowe, Gedling and Rushcliffe borough council areas were due to come into force on Thursday.
But Nottingham South MP Lilian Greenwood said the full announcement, which was expected on Tuesday, has been delayed because ministers want to extend the restrictions further afield.
Residents in Nottingham city and surrounding boroughs had been urged to keep showing “resilience” ahead of the new measures coming into force.
The city will join Warrington as well as the Liverpool City Region, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and South Yorkshire in having fresh restrictions imposed in Tier 3.
The finer details of the measures are now expected to be outlined on Wednesday.
In a series of tweets on Tuesday evening, Labour MP Ms Greenwood said: “Yesterday we were told that we’re going into Tier 3 on Thursday.
“24 hours later and the public still don’t know what that means, businesses are unable to plan, people don’t know whether they’ll be going into work on Thursday.
“The Government still haven’t provided the public with the information that explains why extra restrictions are needed or what those restrictions will be. Public trust is being undermined by their woeful communications.
“Now we hear the announcement has been delayed because ministers want to extend Tier 3 to all of Nottinghamshire – as I & others have been saying for days.
“Once again this Government are dithering and delaying – and our constituents, our hospitals and local businesses in our city are paying the price.”
In a joint statement also issued on Tuesday, Nottinghamshire County Council, Nottingham City Council and the borough councils involved in the initial Tier 3 announcement said: “We appreciate that our communities and businesses are awaiting clarity and certainty about how the Tier 3 measures will impact on them.
“We await confirmation from government about their progress in drafting the necessary legislation for Nottingham, Broxtowe, Gedling and Rushcliffe. At the earliest opportunity, we will publish details of the measures and package of support.”
Under blanket pre-existing Tier 3 measures, bars and pubs in the city will have to close unless they serve substantial meals.
Households will also be banned from mixing indoors or in private gardens and beer gardens, affecting some 700,000 people across the city and three neighbouring local authority areas.
A package of financial support measures for affected businesses and workers, agreed with Government, will be put in place, in line with other areas where Tier 3 measures have been imposed.
It is understood that councils managed to convince ministers to allow gyms, cinemas, theatres, hair salons and barber shops to remain open, during a week of intensive negotiations over specific controls for the area.
Rushcliffe Borough Council leader Simon Robinson told the PA news agency he believes the measures are supported by a “majority” of residents.
He said people are showing “a lot of resilience, because people understand we need to get on top of the virus”.
Shedding some light on the negotiations, Councillor John Clarke, Gedling Borough Council’s leader, told PA that local authorities had acted with a “united front”.
He added gyms had been a “hot topic” but said “we managed to turn that round yesterday and we’re very pleased that we did”.
“One of the other contentious things was about cinemas and we’ve got a small cinema and theatre, reduced down from 200 seats to 25, and people are thoroughly enjoying it,” said Cllr Clarke.
“We’ve got one of the few pantomimes left in the city, up at Nottingham Playhouse – so we’ve saved the panto.”
He added the councils “didn’t quite succeed” on getting an allowance for visiting hairdressers, but there was agreement on salon-based premises “staying open” as well as visiting podiatrists operating.
Councils had also been keen to pin down “an exit strategy”, securing a 28-day review date.
Mr Robinson explained the economic package on offer was in “two sides”, with more money for councils’ enforcement teams to make sure people follow the rules and grants for affected businesses.
“Our offices are working right now to make sure we can get that money out there as quickly as possible to the businesses that will desperately need it once restrictions are announced,” he said.
The announcement of south Nottinghamshire’s measures also promised a review after 28 days, with Mr Robinson saying that will be a regular process.
Although people are resilient, Mr Robinson said residents are “weary”.
“It’s getting dark outside, it’s winter, there’s more restrictions, and particularly business owners are really wary of this period coming up in terms of what effect it’s going to have on there,” he said.
“What I’ve seen consistently is that people understand that we have to get a grip on this virus.
“Not just the virus itself but also the effect it’s having on our hospitals.”
Last week, the head of the NHS trust which runs Nottingham’s two main hospitals said some non-urgent surgery and appointments would have to be cancelled because of a spike in Covid-19 admissions.
Mr Robinson said: “When there are hundreds of people in hospitals with Covid – we’ve seen ICU beds usage increasing – people really understand that and it becomes very real and that’s where people are very fearful.”
He added there are “huge concerns about the capacity of the hospitals” when new infections “could mean a hospital admission in three weeks’ time”.
Mr Robinson added: “We’ve got two months before Christmas.
“I am confident, if we get on top of these restrictions, get compliance from business from our residents, we are going to see the infection rate coming down and going in the right direction.
“If that is the case, I am sure we’ll get the support from Government to actually start to reduce these restrictions and give people that freedom and get some enjoyment out of Christmas.”
Visitors to Nottingham city centre have been reacting to the announcement of the tough new measures, with one calling them “necessary”.
Carl Bellamy, who is retired, said he believes the measures will be effective if people obey the rules.
On the possibility of a four-week review of the measures, he said: “The hard-stop date to review it is quite right.
“Statistically, you have to have that amount of time to show any real result, don’t you?
“But I think to review it after a month is quite right.”
Jason Weliczko, who has run the popular Nottingham city centre Robin Hood baked potato shack for 29 years, said he fears the R-rate will simply rise again after Tier 3 restrictions are lifted.
He said: “Even if we have this Tier 3 for 28 days, the R-rate might come down a fraction maybe but what’s going to happen after 28 days?
“It’ll come back up again.”