South Yorkshire is to be placed into the ‘very high’ alert level for Covid-19 restrictions, with the region the latest to be moved into tier 3.
Sheffield City Region mayor Dan Jarvis confirmed the news on Wednesday (21 October) morning, after local leaders reached an agreement with the government.
Which South Yorkshire towns and cities are affected?
The tougher restrictions will affect around 1.4 million people who live in the following South Yorkshire areas:
What are the rules in Tier 3?
The ‘very high’ Covid alert level applies to areas with the highest infection rates and includes the strictest restrictions.
In these areas, people must not meet with anybody outside their household or support bubble in any indoor or outdoor setting, whether at home or in a public space.
The rule of six applies in open public spaces, such as parks and beaches.
People are advised to avoid travelling outside of their local area, or entering another ‘very high’ alert area, other than for essential purposes, such as work or education.
Pubs and bars have been instructed to close in these areas, unless they can operate as a restaurant, in a bid to reduce transmission. Possible further restrictions on hospitality, leisure, entertainment or personal care sectors may also be introduced, but retail, schools and universities will remain open.
When will the changes take effect?
The four South Yorkshire regions will be moved into the very high Covid local alert level (tier 3) from 00.01am on Saturday 24 October.
The move comes after Mr Jarvis said he and local council leaders in the region were able to secure a £41 million support package from the government, including £30 million to support the region’s businesses, and £11 million for councils to support measures such as Test and Trace.
Covid-19 infection rates in South Yorkshire are currently among the highest in the country, with the number of people in hospital with the virus having doubled over the past 10 days.
While infection rates vary across the region, Mr Jarvis stressed that collective action was the “only practical choice” to keep everyone safe.
He said: “We all recognise the gravity of the situation and have taken the responsible route to ensure we save lives and livelihoods, and protect our NHS.
“More older people are contracting the virus. The number of people with Covid in our hospitals has doubled over the last ten days, with no signs this will relent over the coming weeks. Inaction was not an option.”
How long will restrictions last?
The stricter measures will be reviewed in 28 days, after which infection rates may have reduced which could allow for restrictions to be relaxed.
Mr Jarvis confirmed that if the measures are effective, individual authorities would be able to move to lower alert levels as soon as it is safe to do so.
However, he stressed that to reach this point as quickly as possible, it is “critical” that people follow the new rules.
Where else is in tier 3?
South Yorkshire will be joining the Liverpool City Region, Greater Manchester and Lancashire in tier 3.
This means that 7.3 million people will now be living under the toughest level of restrictions.
Will Leeds be moved into tier 3?
Leeds has not yet been moved into the very high Covid alert level, but discussions with local leaders about the possibility of stricter measures is still ongoing.
Heath Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed on Monday (19 October) that discussions with local leaders in West Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, the North East and Teeside are continuing this week, meaning Leeds could be among the next to be placed into tier 3.