Government places Stockton-on-Tees into highest tier of COVID-19 restrictions
The Government will place Stockton-on-Tees into Tier 3 of England's new system of COVID-19 restrictions after the national lockdown ends next week, it has confirmed.
Under the new system, areas are placed into one of three tiers - Tier 1 (medium), Tier 2 (high), or Tier 3 (very high) - with each having a different set of restrictions.
And the Borough of Stockton-on-Tees, along with Tees Valley and the rest of the North East region, has been placed into Tier 3 - the strictest of those tiers.
This means a number of new restrictions will come into effect from 00:01 on Wednesday (December 2).
"Since day one of the pandemic our focus has been on supporting our most vulnerable residents and our businesses, and that's still our focus now," said Councillor Bob Cook, Leader of the Council and Chair of the Borough's Local Outbreak Engagement Group (LOEG).
"This week's COVID-19 dashboard for the Borough revealed a significant fall in case numbers, with a 7-day rate of 299.0 new cases per 100,000 population for the week ending November 22, compared with a rate of 455.5 the previous week.
"That's encouraging and it's credit to the efforts people are making. But there were also 15 COVID-related deaths in the Borough last week so we can't be complacent. We need to keep on following the rules so we can sustain that fall in numbers.
"If everyone does that, we can keep each other safe and give ourselves the best possible chance of getting into a lower tier. The Government has said they'll review the current tier allocations by December 16 so that gives us something to aim for."
Councillor Cook added: "What we need now is some further assurances about the financial support available for businesses that have to stay closed, and we're pressing Government on this.
"We also need some clarity about testing - we're still waiting for delivery of our first 10,000 lateral flow tests that were announced more than two weeks ago and today's announcement said Tier 3 areas would also get support for 'mass community testing'.
"We were already working on an approach to rolling out those lateral flow - or 'rapid-result' tests - so we could do with details of this additional testing as soon as possible so we can have a clear and properly coordinated plan to make best use of them."