"Difficult but essential," County health chief's view on Northamptonshire's move into Tier Three

"Virus could overwhelm NHS into the New Year," warns county director

By Kevin Nicholls
Wednesday, 23rd December 2020, 4:20 pm
Updated Wednesday, 23rd December 2020, 4:24 pm

Health officials admit the Government's decision to escalate Northamptonshire into a higher tier of Covid restrictions is difficult to take but essential.

Today's announcement by Health Secretary Matt Hancock means tighter restrictions on mixing between households from Boxing Day, pubs and restaurants can only operate as takeaways and major sporting events in the county will got ahead without fans again.

Immediately following the news, the county's Director of Public Health, Lucy Wightman, said: “Residents have shown remarkable resilience and compliance in facing the challenge of combating this virus to date but I’m afraid we are now faced with a new challenge.

"The virus has mutated to be up to 70 per cent more contagious, meaning rates are rising at a much more rapid rate in areas around us. This is affecting our ability to maintain lower rates.

“I know that this is exceptionally difficult news. It will mean festive plans are disrupted and that for businesses affected this will be a very significant blow, especially those in the hospitality sector.

"I also know that for many of us this will mean changing our plans once again. Residents who have booked to eat out on Boxing Day will now have to celebrate at home.

"But I urge you all to continue to remain calm — all shops will remain open so there is no need for stockpiling or panic buying.

County health chief Lucy Wightman (left) admits today's announcement by Matt Hancock was "essential"

“I can only reassure you that given the data, the continued pressure on our NHS services, and the emergent mutant strain, the Government’s action is absolutely essential.

"We are now in a situation of exponential growth which, if left unchecked, would lead to a rapid escalation in cases and hospitalisations that could overwhelm our NHS services over the festive period and into the New Year.

“Whilst no-one wants to see Northamptonshire under tighter restrictions, the stark reality of the situation means we have no choice.

"I know we can beat the virus by doing the right thing over the coming weeks. We have done it before we will do it again.”

Today’s decision is based on the latest available coronavirus data, the rapid rise in case rates of Covid-19 and is in line with the measures set out in the Government’s Winter Plan.

This means that Northamptonshire is officially on ‘very high alert’ in terms of risk of exposure and transmission of the virus from one minute past midnight on 26 December.

Hospitality settings, such as bars, pubs, cafes, restaurants, and social clubs must close except for takeaway, delivery and click and collect services. This includes restaurants and bars within hotels or member’s clubs.

You cannot mix with another household indoors. Only meet people outdoors in open public spaces in groups of up to six.