Royal Borough 'hovering' around Tiers 1 and 2 after lockdown

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The Royal Borough's health chief says the council cannot say with certainty what 'COVID tier' it will be in come Thursday - but did indicate the likelihood of 'hovering' around the Tier 1 and 2 mark. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that England would not be extending the lockdown after December 2 and will instead be moving to a tougher three-tier system. 

Areas will not know which tier they are in until the Government confirms this on Thursday, with a range of factors contributing to a location's classification. These include the 'R' infection rate in the region and pressure on NHS services. 

Speaking to the Advertiser today (Tuesday), Cllr Stuart Carroll (Con, Boyn Hill), says the borough's tier classification is something it is 'still looking at very closely'.

"Thursday is an important date in terms of the whole country by area," he said.

"Our data has been indicating that we have been hovering around Tier 1, Tier 2."

The borough's rate per 100,000 of the population stands at 161.8, and in the seven days from November 17 to 23, a total of 215 people tested positive for COVID-19.

In Tier 1, people can meet indoors and outdoors - following the rule of six - while pubs and restaurants will be open for table service, shutting at 11pm (last orders 10pm).

But in Tier 2, people cannot mix households indoors and pubs can only operate if serving a 'substantial meal'. 

Cllr Carroll said it is unlikely that the borough's data would place it in Tier 3, where pubs and restaurants would be closed except for takeaways and people will not be allowed to mix indoors, or in most outdoor scenarios. 

Nearby Slough Borough Council said today it was 'expecting' Tier 3 restrictions when national lockdown ends. 

"The implications between tiers are quite significant, particularly for different types of businesses," Cllr Carroll said. 

"We are looking at our data and liaising with Government colleagues to ensure these data are correct. We will have a clearer picture come Thursday.

"That is something we are still looking at very closely. It is difficult to say with any great certainty."

He added: "Based on the current trend, it is unlikely we would be moving into Tier 3, but you can't rule anything out until you have the data confirmed."

Cllr Carroll also said he feels 'sympathy' for some businesses stuck in limbo as they wait for news on how they can operate.

"We need to do what is right by public health, but also what is right by local businesses and the economy," he said.

"The best way people can help local businesses is to support them when they are open. We have all got a role to play there.

"But also adhering to the guidance - the more we stop the spread the less need we are going to have to be in higher tiers of classification.

"I understand the anxiety and concern. We as a council will continue to stand right behind businesses."

Cllr Carroll added that the borough's own contact tracing system, announced last week to complement the national system, had begun well. 

"The launch has been smooth so far," he said.

He added that it is still 'early days' and that more information about potential localised COVID hotspots and trends would come to light more as the system develops. 

"If you are contacted it is imperative that you follow the guidance," Cllr Carroll said. 

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