Loughborough and the surrounding Charnwood area is to move to the ‘Very High’ Tier 3, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced.
The minister revealed the new Tiers in the House of Commons this morning, with hospitality and all indoor entertainment venues being forced to close in the area.
He said that both Leicestershire and Leicester needed to be in Tier 3 ‘to bring cases down’, and thanked those being put into Tier 3 ‘for the sacrifices they are making’.
He added that “we must all think of our own responsibilities to keep the virus under control”.
The new tier will be effective from the end of the National Lockdown at 00:01 the 2nd of December, meaning residents and students alike will not be able to return to socialising in groups of 6 apart from in public outdoor areas.
The restrictions cover both private homes and any other venues such as pubs and restaurants, but do not apply to outdoor public spaces where the ‘rule of 6’ will continue to apply.
Outdoor competitive sport will be able to continue in the Tier, although audiences will not be allowed at Elite sport events.
The new tiers are tougher than before, with the Prime Minister announcing earlier in the week that in Tier 3, pubs and hospitality will now be forced to shut completely except for takeaways.
On Leicestershire, the Health Secretary said that whilst “improvements have been seen in overall case rates in all but one lower tier local authority, but remain very high at 355 per 100,000, including in over 60s at 250 per 100k. The pressure on the local NHS remains very high.”
Can Loughborough reach Tier 2?
Across the UK, areas across the country have been placed into higher tiers than previously, with the notable exception of Liverpool which has seen a drop from Tier 3 to 2 – a testament to the hard work of those in the area to prevent the spread of the virus.
The new tiers will be reviewed every 14 days, with Charnwood’s next attempt to drop down a Tier coming on December 16th.
Mike Sandys, the county council’s director of public health, has said that Charnwood must bring rates down to around under 200 per 100,000 for Tier 2, and 150 per 100,000 people for the county to return to Tier One.
The latest rate in Charnwood was 271.7 per 100,000, with the national rate in England sitting lower, at 218.4.
But the Government has given a more wide-ranging opinion, with the Department of Health and Social Care stating that decisions on tiers will be based on public health recommendations based on:
- The case detection rate, in particular in the those over-60
- The case positivity in the general population
- How quickly case rates are changing
- The pressure on the NHS in the local area, including projected hospital capacity
- Local context and exceptional circumstances, like a specific contained outbreak in a prison or a school
Impact on the University
In a statement from Richard Taylor, the University’s Chief Operating Officer, he outlined that the University was still “currently considering the full implications of this on the University’s operations and will provide further information soon.”
However, he clarified that “learning and teaching will continue to the arrangements previously announced“, with sport (including IMS) able to recommence and sports facilities (including gyms) to reopen.
“We are speaking to LSU and will say more about their operations, student sections and societies in our further update“, he added.
Students at Loughborough University London will remain in Tier 2 for the foreseeable future, meaning that they are able to continue visit hospitality and leisure venues and meet in groups of 6 in private outdoor areas.
Home for Christmas
Free, fast “lateral flow tests” with a rapid turnaround will become available in Loughborough from tomorrow and will be used to test students returning home for Christmas.
All in-person teaching will end in both Loughborough and London from Wednesday 9thDecember, in line with new Government rules.
At that point, all lectures and seminars will move online where possible until the end of term, following existing timetables.
But until then, the University will remain open and teaching will continue to current arrangements. The Library and other academic facilities will remain open as will essential shops such as the LSU outlets remaining open.
This is a breaking story and will continue to be updated.
Full guidance on the Tier 3 local lockdown measures can be found on the GOV.UK website.