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Bucks Council leader warns of Tier 3 after 'rapid' rise in COVID infections

Rory Butler, Local Democracy Reporter

Bucks Council leader warns of Tier 3 after 'rapid' rise in COVID infections

The leader of Buckinghamshire Council said he ‘anticipates’ the entire county could be placed into Tier 3 after a 'rapid' rise in COVID infections across all areas.

Cllr Martin Tett led a Cabinet meeting this morning (Tuesday) by issuing a stark warning to residents having himself witnessed the infection rates climb ‘sharply’ across all age groups in Bucks during the past two weeks.

He said the rise was no longer predominantly confined to the south of the county and that now the former Aylesbury Vale District County area had one of the 'highest' rates of infection.

The leader said while he is 'well aware' of what tougher restrictions could mean for the local economy, he is also concerned about the 'extreme pressure' on local health services.

“If the infection rates continue to rise after Christmas there could be a really serious situation in the local NHS,” he warned.

Cllr Tett also said there is 'obviously a section of our population for whom the rules appear to be irrelevant', before urging youngsters 'who think they’re invulnerable' to consider everyone important in their lives.

“You may think you’re invulnerable, but actually your parents and grandparents are not,” he said. “And you can do serious harm to them.”

Addressing cabinet members, he said: “London and parts of the immediate proximity in Hertfordshire and Essex were all put into tier three, the highest level of restriction, yesterday.

“That was done quite suddenly in response to a rapid rise in infection rates in those areas.

“At the moment, Buckinghamshire remains in tier two, the medium but high category. We are expecting a review on Wednesday or Thursday this week and we do not know what the results of that will be.

“What I am aware of is the infection rates in the county have climbed very sharply over the last two weeks. This is not something everybody forecast.

“We obviously had the lockdown, and that did see a fall in our infection rates but since [then] we’ve seen a sharp rise.

“And I have to say the latest numbers I saw yesterday (Monday) indicate that sharp rise has continued, and in some cases has accelerated.”

Cllr Tett stressed this was 'very concerning', adding it 'could indicate we need to move into a higher tier'.

He said he hoped that would not happen, before adding: “But I do anticipate that may happen”.

He said in just over a week, the infection rates per 100,000 residents has risen from 118 to 142 for ‘all ages across Buckinghamshire’.

“The latest numbers I have are 200.6,” he said, adding: “That’s a really rapid rate of increase and that’s true right across all the geography of Buckinghamshire.”

He said he would write to all residents but may need to issue a follow-up after the imminent government announcement this week.

“The solution to this is in our own hands,” he said. “There is not some mythical ‘them’ doing this to us.

“We really need to take responsibility, both for ourselves, and for our families and our friends.

“We need to follow the rules, clearly and accurately. Try and make sure you minimise contact with other people and [therefore] the spread of this dreadful pandemic.”

Bucks is currently in Tier 2, or ‘high alert’.

Were it to move into ‘very high’ (Tier 3), the restrictions would be:

  • No household mixing in or outdoors, in gardens, or hospitality venues
  • Rule of six outdoors
  • Pubs and restaurants should be closed, except for delivery and takeaway services
  • Indoor entertainment venues should close
  • People should avoid travelling in and out of the area
  • Hairdressers can continue to operate

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