Why is Suffolk in Tier 2, not Tier 1? I've been asked that quite a lot this week. I was asking myself that too at the start of the third Cabinet meeting of the week when I saw the Suffolk rolling rate which seemed to be within touching distance of the two areas of the country that are going to be in Tier 1 next week. But I know why. The reality is that our rolling rate of infections is higher and the number of people in hospital is much higher than when we went into the national lockdown.
Health Secretary and West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock has set out the five indicators that will be considered in determining tiers - case detection rates in all age groups and for over 60s, rate at which cases are up or down, percentage of cases that are positive and pressure on the local NHS.
If you look online at https://coronavirus.data.gov.uk/ you can see what is happening for our county overall on infection rates and you can zoom in to different areas. Towards the end of September there were 46 cases, October over 500 cases and the latest data I have is it is well over 600. A month ago there were 3 covid patients in Ipswich Hospital. Last weekend, there were 52, 6 in intensive care.
It had already been decided to work on county (upper tier) level indicators. This was also the case earlier in the autumn. This is partly for simplicity of local area recognition and also because people may work or shop in one area different from where they live and trying to restrict movement would become an undue burden. Within our county, we have seen significant rises in Ipswich and Hadleigh recently while we had some issues near Halesworth a while ago. So we, Suffolk, are all in this together.
I've written before on why it was decided to move to national restrictions and how that felt rather tough for people in Suffolk Coastal, especially our retailers, our hairdressers, our cafes, pubs and restaurants. All our retailers, hairdressers, cafes and restaurants will be able to open this coming week, as will pubs that serve substantial meals. There will be more opening up of leisure activities. We still have restrictions on other aspects of our lives, including who can come into our homes. Next Saturday is Small Business Saturday and I hope we will all get out and support them.