No one is surprised. There is a sense of resignation and growing weariness as we face another partial lockdown locally. Most of the rest of the country is from midnight in lockdown in all but name.
For a town like Ludlow which relies heavily on the visitor and hospitality industry, it is a bitter blow for our local venues to have to close their doors yet again. And we don’t know for how long. There will be a staggered return to schools and higher education though we don’t have the details for Shropshire yet.
I have no doubt that this change is essential but that does not make it any less a bitter pill to swallow.
Whatever the government calls this phase of fighting the epidemic, tonight England enters the third lockdown in all but name. We learnt a lot from the first lockdown. There is support for those who will be isolated but it is inevitable with the short, dark days, loneliness and depression will increase. Our town has shown its strength in supporting people in need since the pandemic began. We have a way to go yet but I am sure our volunteer community is up to the task.
The beast is out there and marching towards the Marches. The beast is the new variant of Covid-19. It is not more deadly and does not have a greater impact on health as far as we know but it is early days on that. Three quarters of England’s population is now in Tier 4. The lockdown word has now become politically taboo but that is pretty much what Tier 4 is. Everywhere else has been bumped up to Tier 3 including the Marches counties. That means our pubs, cafes and restaurants have last orders at 10pm tonight with chucking out time at 11pm.
For the last few weeks, the infection rates in Telford have been at levels that have looked like it needed a stricter lockdown. Where Telford goes, Shropshire must follow because we have a common health system and share the same hospitals.
In Shropshire, we have kept our infection rates lower than most of the country. Currently our seven day infection rate is around 123 per 100,000 people. The most recent estimate for Ludlow is an infection rate of around 55. But in Telford and Wrekin, it is around 141. Across England, the infection rate is above 400.
As I detailed yesterday evening, testing data has picked up a surge in positive tests among younger adults. The virus has been adapting through random mutation and natural section to become better at jumping from person to person.
The main changes from Tier 2 to Tier 3
- There is no change to the ban on mixing indoors. You can’t mix with people indoors except with the people you ordinarily live with or who are in your support bubble. People doing urgent repairs and medical staff are of course allowed.
- A maximum of six people can meet in an outdoor public space.
- Pubs, restaurants and bars can only open for takeaways.
- Indoor leisure remains open but classes should not take place.
- Accommodation is now closed.
- It’s advised not to stay overnight in other households, except within your support bubble.
- Wedding receptions are now not permitted.
- Indoor entertainment venues are now closed to the public.
- Where possible, you should stay local and avoid travelling outside your local area, meaning your village or town, or part of a city. People should continue to travel for reasons such as work, education, medical attention or if they have caring responsibilities.
- You can still travel to venues that are open, or for reasons such as work or education, but you should reduce the number of journeys you make wherever possible. You should avoid travelling outside your Tier 3 area other than for the reasons such as those above.
- You should avoid higher-risk contact sports and group exercise activities and sports indoors should not take place, unless with your household or bubble.
- No spectators allowed at sporting events.