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Tier 1 is 'overarching aim' for borough if people 'follow the guidance'

The Royal Borough joined the majority of the country in entering Tier 2 COVID restrictions yesterday (Wednesday).

Having endured a four-week lockdown, people are now able to socialise in a group of no more than six outdoors and can visit a pub – if they order a substantial meal.

But indoor mixing in any setting is still banned, and watering holes are not allowed to serve drinks after 10pm.

Nearby Wokingham Borough and Buckinghamshire councils have also been placed in Tier 2, but Slough is in Tier 3 – the highest level.

But in more positive news, COVID-19 cases in the Royal Borough have decreased over the last week.

The council’s lead member for health, Cllr Stuart Carroll (Con, Boyn Hill), told the Advertiser this week that ‘it was not a massive shock’ to be placed in Tier 2 given where the borough was with its data.

He added: “Our overarching aim is to see us as quickly as possible return to Tier 1 and there is an opportunity to do that if we continue to see the rates and cases fall. The best way to do that is for people to stop the spread by following the guidance.”

With reference to Slough being in Tier 3, Cllr Carroll said it was ‘concerning’ to have any part of the country in this classification, and urged Royal Borough residents to be vigilant.

Those outside Tier 3 must not travel to these areas unless it is essential, but can pass through them as part of longer journeys.

“It is imperative that people are aware of the difference in tier between the Royal Borough and Slough,” he said.

Reacting to the news, Royal Borough leader Cllr Andrew Johnson urged residents last week to ‘be sensible and take care’, adding that he will be looking to find out how the process works to move down to Tier 1.

The system will be reviewed on Wednesday, December 16.

Michelle O’Keefe, owner of the White Hart pub in Holyport, says that 70 per cent of her custom comes from drinks, making the controversial ‘substantial meals’ rule difficult.

Speaking to the Advertiser on Tuesday, she said: “I do have a chef, but only part time. We have to think about the finances, and the costs attached to paying for a chef to be here all the time, if there aren’t enough customers.

“I have to think about shutting, and if that’s better for finances – but that’s not what a community pub is about.”

The White Hart was set to reopen today (Thursday) from 5pm. A statement on its Facebook page said: “These new regulations do not make life easy for us wet-led pubs but we are going to give it a shot.”

Addressing MPs in the House of Commons on Thursday last week, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that restrictions were ‘necessary given the scale of the threat we face’.

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