06:27PM, Wednesday 28 October 2020
The council’s lead member for health says the borough is still ‘on the cusp’ of tier 2 COVID-19 restrictions but it is keeping the situation ‘under constant review’.
A move into the higher band was floated by council leader Cllr Andrew Johnson (Con, Hurley and Walthams) earlier this month following a ‘worrying’ increase in virus cases.
But health chief Cllr Stuart Carroll (Con, Boyn Hill) confirmed to the Advertiser last week that the borough had not asked Government to move up a tier, with Cllr Johnson affirming on Thursday that the borough was to remain in tier 1 for now.
Speaking today (Wednesday), Cllr Carroll said the area remains in the lowest tier.
He also said there had been an eight per cent increase in cases over the last week, taking the borough’s case per 100,000 figure to 129.
He said: “As things stand at the moment, we remain on the cusp of entering tier 2. What we are doing is keeping this under constant review. We are continually having these discussions with Government.
“Any decision on tier classification will be based on the data and expert advice.
“It is imperative that people do continue to follow the guidance – washing hands, wearing masks, and social distancing.”
Last week, Cllr Carroll was not entirely sure of the source of new infections, and remained in the same view this week, although he did acknowledge that household mixing was likely to be playing a big part.
“We still can’t say that is 100 per cent the cause, but the evidence we have, and the national trend, it would appear to be the case that the single biggest contributor source is household mixing,” he said.
“That is not to say there are no other sources.”
Cllr Carroll added that social distancing is ‘the best’ antidote against the virus, which ‘loves it’ when there is not a safe distance between people.
The council has been criticised by some for its mixed messaging, but Cllr Carroll said it is ramping up its communications and described the pandemic as a ‘fluid situation’.
“The virus does not stay static, we are dealing with updated information on a daily – sometimes hourly – basis,” he said.
“This is a really fluid situation.”
The health boss also rejected claims the council was looking to move up a tier in the hope of gaining cash, saying the economic effect would be worse if the borough did move up a classification.
“Staying in tier 1 requires a collective effort, all of us following the guidance,” he said.
Cllr Carroll concluded by saying the council ‘wants to do everything’ it can to support local businesses, adding it is ‘essential’ the Government responds to the call of local authorities following the effects of the pandemic.
“Regardless of what tier you are in, local authorities need considerable funding to get us through this and bounce back as quickly as possible,” he said.
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