Tier Two restrictions are “the right place” for Hertfordshire despite a fall in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, according to the leader of the county council.

Figures from the middle of last month show that the weekly rate of infection in Hertfordshire (per 100,000 population) was running at 172 – and was on the rise.

But by November 21, just a week later, that figure had fallen to 136.

The “significant decline” may have prompted some hopes that the county would emerge from lockdown into a ‘tier’ with looser restrictions.

But at a media briefing on Friday, November 27, leader of the county council Cllr David Williams said Tier Two was “the right place” for Hertfordshire.

He added it was “unlikely” the county would move into a lower tier before Christmas – and that the county may be in Tier Two for a while.

He said the “significant decline” in cases over the seven-day period had been “really positive” and “a great achievement on the part of Hertfordshire residents”.

And he said the way Hertfordshire had performed in lockdown period bode well for the county going forward.

But despite the decrease in the infection rate, he said the government had “no alternative” than to put Hertfordshire into Tier 2.

“There is a fine line here – and if we are being realistic Tier Two is the right place for us to be at the moment,” Cllr Williams said.

“Tier Two is going to be quite challenging for a number of our residents and businesses – particularly in the hospitality sector.”

However he did say he had anticipated “a more detailed dialogue with government” before the decision was made.

During the briefing, director of public health Jim McManus pointed to the impact the current wave of COVID-19 cases was having on the NHS.

He reported that 179 patients are being treated for the virus in hospitals in Hertfordshire and West Essex – with new admissions at a rate of 11 a day.

And Mr McManus warned: “There is an assumption that this hasn’t impacted, because we are not seeing people in hospital and people dying – but hospitals are experiencing some pressure.”

However he also reported that more people were surviving the virus – and fewer people were in intensive care.

According to the data presented – as of November 26 – the incidence rates across the county were: Broxbourne 210.6; Dacorum 130.9; East Herts 155.3; Hertsmere 147.8; North Herts 104.3; St Albans 117.4; Stevenage 120.8; Three Rivers 148.3; Watford 169.5; Welwyn Hatfield 139.3.

Despite the differences in infection rates, Cllr Williams said it was “unlikely” different tiers would ever be applied to different district and boroughs within the county.

“People move across the county east to west and north to south. I don’t imagine there would be a case for taking a different view in any one of our districts or boroughs.”