Loughborough and the surrounding Charnwood district are to move into Tier 2 lockdown restrictions from Saturday morning, the Department of Health has announced.
From 00:01 on Saturday, those living within Charnwood must not meet socially with friends and family indoors in any setting, unless they live with them or have formed a support bubble.
Leader of the Council, Jonathan Morgan, said that “when residents and businesses wake up on Saturday morning they must follow the new regulations, or face heavy fines.”
The restrictions cover both private homes and any other venues such as pubs and restaurants, but do not apply to outdoor public or private spaces where the ‘rule of 6’ will continue to apply.
The announcement comes after a rapid increase of coronavirus cases in the area which has led the council to take action, with Charnwood now sitting comfortably in the top-20 areas in the country and the top in the East Midlands – despite still being in Tier 1 restrictions until now.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “We have agreed with local leaders to move more areas into the high local Covid alert level this week.
“These restrictions are challenging for us all, but it is only by working together and following the rules that we will bring down the rates of infection. A failure to act now will only lead to longer disruption and greater economic damage.”
Last week, Mike Sandys (Director of Public Health for Leicestershire) said that “It’s clear that figures are still rising in Charnwood so this is a sensible move. Cases are very high in the 17-21s age range, while rates among over-60s have trebled since the end of September and this is driving the figures.
“What’s most important is what we do now. To stop coronavirus spreading to older, more vulnerable people, we need everyone to do the right thing.
“By not mixing with people you don’t live with, self-isolating when you need to and avoiding crowded areas, you’re playing your part. This really is the simplest action you can take to save lives and livelihoods” he added.
Yesterday, the latest figures showed that cases in the area in the last 7 days had risen to 441, with 193 of those in the Loughborough University area.
The spread of the virus in the university area has been increasing exponentially in recent weeks, with cases doubling around each week and a half, despite hopes of a a plateau in cases last week.
But the University’s chief operating officer, Richard Taylor, defended the students, saying he was “pleasantly surprised” at how well students are been behaving.
He told the BBC that “there’s definitely more students out there delivering food parcels, helping neighbours than having wild parties” and that “to suggest it’s a university problem is not the case.
“Whilst we at the university accept we’ve a responsibility to work with our partners to get the rate down that is not the only reason we’re in tier two as a borough.”
Loughborough Student Union’s new ‘Socially Distant Social Club’, which opened last night, will now be restricted to one household per table, and similar restrictions will be enforced in pubs and restaurants across the town.
Further case data for the last week will be announced later today, as will data from the University on cases picked up by their ‘Connect and Protect’ service.
In addition to the changes in Charnwood, Nottinghamshire has been moved up to Tier 3, coming into effect from Friday at 00:01. The area in the ‘Very High’ tier goes right up to border of Charnwood, and will also include a ban on selling alcohol in shops after 9pm.
Both Telford & Wrekin in Shropshire (rate of 220.2/100,000) and the City of Oxford (117.5/100,000) will also be moving to ‘Tier 2’ from 00:01 on Saturday morning, alongside Derby, Staffordshire, Dudley, Hull, Luton and more.
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