Covid Watch 100: It’s official – we are still in Tier 2 – a bitter blow to town that is celebrated for its hospitality – Hereford now Tier 1

Covid Watch 100: It’s official – we are still in Tier 2 – a bitter blow to town that is celebrated for its hospitality – Hereford now Tier 1

No one will think this is a surprise. But many will think it a disappointment. Ludlow, Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin will remain in Tier 2 until after Christmas. The mood music has been against lowering our tier status for the last week. Covid-19 rates have been rising locally and nationally. We have the high risk Christmas relaxation in social mixing ahead of us. That’s a populist gesture from Boris Johnson which has no support from the scientists he once claimed were informing his policy.

The decision not to move to our area to Tier 1 is a grim blow for Ludlow’s hospitality businesses. Especially as Herefordshire has gained Tier 1 status today.

Our unique selling point as a market town is good food and drink. But it is also the sociability of our pubs, cafes and restaurants.

Johnson’s “cavalry” is coming over the hill to vaccinate us all. But what we need is a gallop not the trot that we are seeing.

Tracey Huffer and I have been discussing the changing trends in the Ludlow and Shropshire area daily with GPs and health officials. We can’t see that there is any choice but to remain in Tier 2, as disappointing as that is. We have seen time and time again that the moment Covid social distancing rules are relaxed, infection rates go up. All year we have been in a battle between ever changing regulation, wanting to be sociable but told we must not be congregate,  

This decision is hard for our hospitality trade. One local publican said it was getting impossible. One week you can operate under one set of rules. Days later all the rules change. “The energy and will is being drained out of us!”

Many businesses feel that they are being punished for doing it right. Ludlow has very low infection rate. The last available data shows we were getting four cases a week. A lot of that is because local shops, the market, pubs and cafes have been rigid in implementing the rules. We have done very well as town. But rates have been rising in the north of the county and in Telford, with which we share a common health system.

Over to a local publican:

“It’s very disappointing. We were promised that if we all made the effort and reduced the infection rates locally, we would be moved into lower restrictions. From what we understand the infection rate per hundred thousand has halved but we still remain in tier 2. It’s devastating at our busiest time of year.”

Christmas is on our doorsteps. Yet the prime minister has resisted any change to his policy of allowing three households to mix over five days at Christmas. That’s Boris’s winter bonus. More parties. More illness. More death. Yesterday, Boris said people should ignore the regulations and avoid socialising.

He has given us the Schrodinger’s regulation paradox. Obey the regulations. Don’t obey the regulations. Both states exist at once in the mind of the prime minister. Decide one way and you and others might live. Or as Schrodinger put it to anger of all cat lovers, you might be as dead a cat.

There is no contest that Christmas needs to be low key. It is not too late for the three household mixing rule to be scrapped but Johnson wants to save Christmas and apologise for deaths in March. Some people will disobey whatever social mixing rules are in place but the government is both permitting high levels of social mixing and discouraging it in the same contrary breath. The government hydra allegedly guiding us through this crisis has a political head trying to play to the public – Falstaff written large – and a medical head saying no, no, no.

It is going to take around six months to get on top of this beast of a disease. Then we should party. We should combine the May bank holidays. Maybe move both holidays forward to July. Fourth of July. Independence Day. Time to party big time.

We need to kill this disease before it kills us. This Christmas is not a time to party. We would all wish it otherwise but if we relax now it will be more restrictions for longer.

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