SOLIHULL has been put into the new ‘High’ Covid-19 tier by the government.
It means new restrictions on households mixing within hospitality businesses.
The borough joins Birmingham, Sandwell, Walsall, and Wolverhampton in ‘High’ – current Covid-19 infection rates in the borough for the week October 2-8 were 142 per 100,000.
The government introduced the new three tier system today of ‘medium risk’ ‘high risk’ or ‘very high’.
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “Many citizens and businesses across the region will be disappointed to hear that the majority of the urban West Midlands will now be moving into the Government’s new ‘High’ tier, and as a consequence will have stricter measures imposed.
“This is not something regional leaders supported, nor what I believed would be happening following extensive conversations over recent days.
“The region was united, cross-party, in supporting the existing restrictions. We believed continuing these would have been the right call to protect both people’s lives and livelihoods.
“The vast majority of people across the region have been superb in helping stop the spread of coronavirus in recent months.
“This phenomenal effort under the current restrictions is slowing the rise of infections across the region, and also causing the rate to stabilise in some areas. Overall our relative position in the UK is much improved.
“The most important change between our current restrictions and the new ones announced today is the ban on households mixing in hospitality venues.
“This is something the latest local epidemiology does not support, and I am disappointed that the Government is pressing ahead with this despite the united view of local leaders.
“The main problem in the West Midlands remains transmission within household settings, and stricter measures for the hospitality industry will not solve that.
“I am urging the Government to review this decision as soon as possible. In the meantime they must offer financial support to hospitality businesses, which are now set to suffer a loss of income.
“I have always argued that data and evidence should lead decision-making, and I therefore find it very surprising that the West Midlands, with an average infection rate of 123 per 100,000, is now in the same tier as Manchester, which has an average infection rate of more than 550 per 100,000.
“Reflecting on this, I am very disappointed that the Government has not found a more flexible approach to our situation.”
Town MP Julian Knight said: “It’s vital that we try to ensure a balance is struck between protecting the vulnerable from Covid-19 and allowing businesses to continue operating safely.
“Making hospitality unviable by restricting the ability of households to mix, while not including those businesses in new support measures unless they’re forced to close, would be the worst of all worlds.”