Suffolk remains under Tier 2 restrictions despite rapid rise in COVID-19 cases and pressure on health and care
- Cases triple since October and 239 COVID patients currently in Suffolk hospital beds
- Suffolk Leaders: “Suffolk needs you now. We can get out of this together.”
Suffolk, including Babergh and Mid Suffolk, has remained under Tier 2 restrictions despite rapidly rising COVID-19 infection rates across the county and pressure on hospitals, care homes and social care.
Today’s decision by central Government to keep Suffolk in the High Alert tier (or tier 2) means that the current restrictions will continue until the next national review.
Although Suffolk has so far seen comparatively lower levels of infection than elsewhere in the region and country, the current infection rate (106 cases per 100,000 people) is triple what it was when Suffolk entered tier one on 14 October (35 cases per 100,000 people). At the beginning of September, there were just 5 cases per 100,000 people.
The pace of growth in the infection rate is also a major cause for concern across Suffolk, with the number of cases in the last week increasing by 62 percent in West Suffolk and 57 percent in East Suffolk. Ipswich, Mid Suffolk and Babergh have also seen increases.
This all puts pressure on Suffolk’s hospitals which need to protect Suffolk’s vulnerable residents whilst still treating non-COVID patients. There were 239 COVID patients in Suffolk hospital beds on 16 December 2020.
Cllr Matthew Hicks, Leader of Suffolk County Council and chair of the Suffolk’s Local Outbreak Engagement Board, said:
“Given where Suffolk was just three weeks ago, the increase in COVID-19 cases is shocking.
“It is the reality that we face however, and we must stand together and strong. Suffolk needs you now. The actions that each of us take over the coming weeks and months, ahead of the COVID vaccine being fully rolled out, will determine when we get our everyday social freedoms back.
“We have a choice. We can play our part now or live with COVID-19 for longer. We can get out of this by following the guidance, not just a little and when it suits us, but fully and always.”
Suffolk’s public sector organisations are already working on a range of actions to help control outbreaks and support the community. A new testing site for asymptomatic people will be piloted in central Ipswich and today (17 December), police and council staff will be in the town centre reinforcing safety messages and ensuring people are following the rules.
County wide, the Home But Not Alone phoneline will be actively contacting people who are self isolating to offer support. The Suffolk Advice and Support Service is also continuing, helping people with financial challenges due to COVID-19. The number of people able to claim the £500 grant available if self isolation poses financial difficulties is being expanded. Businesses are being supported with advice and grants and community groups working in neighbourhoods, food banks and schools are being supported. A winter grant fund is providing vouchers or food boxes for families who normally receive free school meals and 110 voluntary organisations are providing access to hardship grants.
Rachel Kearton, Suffolk’s deputy chief constable and chair of the group of public sector organisations leading the fight against COVID-19 in the county, said:
“Throughout this extremely difficult year, the vast majority of people in Suffolk have made great sacrifices to protect themselves, their loved ones and the NHS.
“I appreciate how hard that has been, but we must now redouble those efforts.
“We have reached a critical time for Suffolk with Christmas approaching.
“The rise in cases is very concerning and now we must rely on each other more than ever before. I urge everyone to follow the guidance all of the time. There is no room for complacency.
“Each of us is responsible for our own actions, and all of us must act responsibly if we are to look forward to a happier New Year.”
People in Suffolk continue to be able to:
- Meet a maximum of six people from other households outdoors
- Go to pubs and bars operating as restaurants with people from your household or support bubble, consuming alcohol but only with a substantial meal
- Go shopping but whilst wearing a mask in indoor public spaces and respecting social distancing rules
- Attend schools, college or university
- Make use of early years childcare
- Go to the gym or leisure centre, whilst following their guidance
- Get a haircut or personal care treatments, whilst following their guidance
- Stay overnight with their household or support bubble
- Attend a wedding, civil partnership or wake of up to 15 guests or funerals of up to 30 mourners
- Attend entertainment and sporting events, whilst following their guidance and capacity limits
- Visit places of worship, whilst following their guidance
- Take part in exercise classes or organised adult sport outdoors
- Visit a loved one in a care or nursing home, if allowed locally and whilst following their guidance
Until the position changes, we will not be able to:
- Meet people from other households or support bubbles indoors
- Visit pubs and bars not serving food
- Stay overnight with people from another household or support bubble
- Exercise indoors with people from another household or support bubble if there is any interaction between them
Everyone is encouraged to work from home and limit their journeys where possible.