Loughborough will once again return to a form of lockdown after under a month of Tier 3, as Leicestershire is moved to Tier 4 restrictions from 00:01 on New Years Eve.
The area has had gradually increasing rates in recent weeks, with the borough hitting a rate of 207.2 cases per 100,000 residents in the last 7 days, although this is well below the national average of 353.7.
Those in the areas in Tier Four must not leave home except for specific purposes, should work from home if they can, and can only meet one other person in public outdoor spaces.
Those who are clinically extremely vulnerable are being advised to resume shielding, and are being told not travel to Tier 4 areas, like Loughborough.
Universities across the country, especially those in Tier 4, are also being asked by the Government to reduce the number of students who return to campus at the start of January.
VC Bob joined a meeting with the Universities Minister this evening. The Government is still working through detail on the return of universities in January. We will provide a brief update tomorrow for staff and students and a definitive position of implications next week.
— Richard Taylor (@RichardTaylor_) December 30, 2020
Loughborough University Chief Operating Officer Richard Taylor said that Loughborough University will be providing a full statement tomorrow, as “the Government is still working through detail on the return of universities in January”.
He emphasised that “students should continue to prepare as planned for any assessments and submit any coursework by the existing deadlines”, and will also soon “provide an update on any changes as a consequence of the move of Leicestershire into Tier 4.”
Elsewhere, the Leader of the Borough Council, Jonathan Morgan, said that “these are incredibly difficult times for many residents and businesses”, although that “there is light at the end of the tunnel.”
Leicestershire (incl @CharnwoodBC ) and Leicester moving into Tier 4 from midnight tonight (Rutland to Tier 3).
Whole of England to be in either Tier 3 or 4.
These are incredibly difficult times for many residents and businesses – there is light at the end of the tunnel. pic.twitter.com/4OOOwKMDF0
— Jonathan Morgan #StayAlertSaveLives (@jono_morgan) December 30, 2020
All non-essential retail must close, as must all indoor entertainment, personal care, and indoor leisure – with 78% of the UK population now in the same conditions.
The latest figures for Loughborough show 99 cases in the last 7 days, which gives the town a rate of 140.1. The majority of these cases are in the non-student Lemyngton, Dishley and Outwoods areas.
The move to Tier 4 comes despite the fact that the current rate of infection is almost three times lower than the rate when Charnwood moved into Tier 2 (484.9/100,000).
The Return to University
However, despite the relatively low rate in the town, there is some concern about the return of students to Loughborough in the coming weeks.
Gavin Williamson, the Education Secretary, told the House of Commons this afternoon that the new COVID Variant has “required some immediate adjustments to our plans for the new term”.
Universities are now being asked to reduce the number of students who return to campus at the start of January, with the return to University will remaining staggered.
Students who require practical learning (such as lab work) will be prioritised for an immediate return, with all university students offered two rapid tests when they do eventually come back to campus.
Mr Williamson said that the changes were necessary “to assist with keeping all our education settings as safe as we can.”
Loughborough University will provide a full update to students and staff on Thursday.
Elsewhere in eduction, most primary schools will open as normal on Monday, although in a small number of high-rate areas schools will be closed. No areas of Leicestershire are affected by closure.
The staggered return for Secondary schools and colleges will be delayed in some Tier 4 areas, allowing schools to fully-roll out testing before opening. In tier 4, these schools will now not reopen fully till 18th Jan, with exam age students returning on the 11th of January.
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