Our council leaders respond to Tier 4 measures

The majority of COVID-19 infections in Hertfordshire were contracted in schools and shops, the latest data shows.

The majority of COVID-19 infections in Hertfordshire were contracted in schools and shops, the latest data shows. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Council leaders in Stevenage and North Herts have addressed residents about the new Tier 4 restrictions announced over the weekend. 

The news that London, South East and East of England would be entering the new Tier 4 came on Saturday as a result of a new strain of COVID-19 that appears to be spreading at a faster rate than the original strain.

Stevenage Borough Council leader Sharon Taylor said: "I recognise these are deeply challenging and worrying times for people and businesses this Christmas, along with our colleagues in the NHS and carers who are helping to look after those who are vulnerable or unwell.

Stevenage council leader Sharon Taylor. Picture: Stevenage Council.

Stevenage council leader Sharon Taylor. Picture: Stevenage Council. - Credit: Stevenage Council

"Under these measures, households will not be allowed to mix or get together over Christmas, but one person will be allowed to meet with one other person outside in a public space. Support bubbles and those meeting for childcare will be exempt, as are the exemptions for separated parents and their children.

"At this time of year, the resurgence of this virus has a truly dreadful effect, changing many people’s Christmas plans at short notice after a deeply difficult year. For some, it means closing businesses and more worry for many workers and families caring for a loved one suffering from this awful disease.

"It also means real pressure on our colleagues in the NHS, and other agencies helping the town through this very challenging chapter.

"Our team and partners in Stevenage are continuing to do their level best this Christmas, to support the community and local businesses through the worst of the pandemic.

"While people have started to be vaccinated against this virus, we must all do all we can to play our part in stopping the spread of the virus.

"This is not the Christmas that any of us would have wished for. But I ask us all to follow these new rules to help stop the spread of this terrible virus, while other vaccines and medical treatments come forward to help us look to a brighter 2021."

NHDC leader Martin Stears-Hanscomb echoed Mrs Taylor's messages.

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He added: "This has come at a particularly difficult time in the run up to Christmas and we are truly saddened for our residents and those businesses which now have to close.

"We know many people were already choosing to make tough decisions about whether to meet up with an extended bubble over Christmas, but unfortunately this will not now be possible due to the Tier 4 rules, although support bubbles are still allowed.

NHDC's Cllr Martin Stears-Handscomb has issued a warning as coronavirus cases continue to rise. Picture: NHDC

NHDC's Cllr Martin Stears-Handscomb has issued a warning as coronavirus cases continue to rise. Picture: NHDC - Credit: Archant

"While our cases in North Hertfordshire have not been as high as in the south of the county, they are rising rapidly - as much as 61 per cent in one week - and it is now clear that the new variant of the virus is causing a dramatic rise in those catching the virus and becoming seriously ill across the whole of the South East.

"The situation is extremely serious and we have to take even tougher steps to protect ourselves, our loved ones and the NHS. Our thoughts and prayers are with those families in our district who have already lost loved ones and those who are suffering from 'long Covid'."

Under the Tier 4 rules, all non-essential shops will close as well as gyms, leisure and sports centres and hairdressers and barbers and we can only meet one person from outside of our household in a public space.

We must not travel beyond Tier 4 and please stay local. We should only leave our homes for specific reasons such as food shopping, medical appointments and exercise outdoors. The restrictions will be reviewed on December 30.

Mr Stears-Hanscomb continued: "We know how much of a blow this announcement will come to our residents and businesses. While it is fantastic that there are vaccines on the way, I cannot stress enough what a critical point this is for our community.

"We must pull together and play our part to stop the spread of the virus. The reality is if we don’t, more of our loved ones will become ill and sadly some will die.

"You have all been fantastic in playing your part this year, please let’s pull together during this next tough period. By supporting each other we will get through this. Please stay safe and stay at home."

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