Following the easing of national restrictions on 2nd December, all of Kent and Medway will have restrictions at the very high tier 3 level.
The Government’s decisions on tiers have been made by ministers based on recommendations by government scientists and medics, taking into account:
- Infection rates in all age groups and in particular among the over 60s
- How quickly case rates are rising or falling
- The number of cases per 100,000 in the general population
- Pressure on the NHS – including current and projected NHS capacity – including admissions, bed occupancy and staff absences
- Local factors and exceptional circumstances such as a local but contained outbreak
Local authorities were informed by letter this morning, outlining the decision and a reminder of the rules of each tier.
Following today’s announcement, Kent County Council Leader Roger Gough said: “We appreciate that residents and businesses across the county will be extremely concerned and some areas may feel the Government decision is unfair. It is our priority now to work with everyone to move out of tier 3 as quickly as possible.
“We continue to work tirelessly to reduce the rate of transmission across Kent, focusing on the most affected areas with extra testing capacity and engaging local communities to ensure that we all comply with restrictions. At the same time continuing to provide support to our most vulnerable people, and providing vital advice and support to Kent businesses.
“We appeal to businesses to play their part by being strict with the guidance affecting them, their staff and their customers – making sure we all follow advice on social distancing and wearing a mask.
“Community outbreaks have been a major cause for concern in some areas of Kent and the second national lockdown had started to show an impact in a slight reduction in the numbers of people testing positive. But it is the same message to all Kent residents now; thank you for all your efforts so far, and we appeal to everyone to continue to take the restrictions seriously and follow the guidance. The faster we get infections down, the sooner we can hope to see restrictions eased to the benefit of residents and businesses.”
The Kent Local Tracing Partnership goes live in Kent from Friday 27 Nov, supporting the national Test and Trace service to locate residents who have tested positive for Covid-19. The local system will continue to support the NHS Test and Trace service, using the experience of the Kent Together helpline with KCC commissioned call handlers contacting people that the Government Test and Trace system has not been able to reach within 24 hours.
Once contacted, the advisors will be able to give advice on isolation and testing, establish close contacts, upload details to the National Contact Tracing system, and signpost to assistance available such as financial or practical in terms of supplies of food and medication.
Work also continues with the Department of Health and Social Care regarding supplies of Lateral Flow Devices and targeted wider asymptomatic testing.
KCC Director of Public Health, Andrew Scott-Clark said: “A local test and trace system, alongside mass testing, are significant undertakings and while they are an important part of managing the pandemic, it is not the solution and any testing needs to be alongside all the other public health measures such as social distancing, wearing masks and washing hands.
“We have been in a national restrictions for two weeks and those high figures from before lockdown are now starting to level off so we are encouraged that the majority of people are doing the right thing by minimising their social interactions at home and carefully following social distancing guidelines when they are out but it’s really important that we protect the most at risk people among our older residents and this needs to happen now if we want to see restrictions eased further.”
KCC and Medway Council lead on outbreak control plans for the county and continue to work closely with partners from central Government, the district and borough councils in Kent, the NHS and Public Health England.
Roger Gough added: “We know that Kent’s hospitals are getting busier – not just from Covid cases but because of normal winter pressures – so we need to help the NHS too and the main thing people can do is to follow the national restrictions and self-isolate if they have symptoms or have been advised to self-isolate. If you have symptoms, book a test. Play your part to help protect Kent and Medway – more information at www.kent.gov.uk/protectkent”
Understanding the tiers
In tier 3, you must not meet socially indoors or in most outdoor places with anybody you do not live with, or who is not in your support bubble, this includes in any private garden or at most outdoor venues. You must not socialise in a group of more than 6 in some other outdoor public spaces, including parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, a public garden, grounds of a heritage site or castle, or a sports facility – this is called the ‘rule of 6’. There are also rules on hospitality settings, such as bars (including shisha venues), pubs, cafes and restaurants which are permitted to continue sales by takeaway, click-and-collect, drive-through or delivery services.
You can find the full list of guidelines and restrictions at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/local-restriction-tiers-what-you-need-to-know