New tier system is actually ‘lockdown lite’, says Ipswich council leader

Ipswich council leader David Ellesmere believes the government's handling of the coronavirus crisis has made the situation...

Ipswich council leader David Ellesmere believes the government's handling of the coronavirus crisis has made the situation worse. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

The news that the government has placed Suffolk into Tier 2 will come as a bitter disappointment to many people.

Ipswich council leader David Ellesmere has urged people to stick to the coronavirus rules. Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Ipswich council leader David Ellesmere has urged people to stick to the coronavirus rules. Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND - Credit: Charlotte Bond

It places further restrictions on our ability to see friends and family and is a huge blow to the hospitality trade in what should be their busiest trading period.

If there is some good news it is that, from the information we’ve been shown, Suffolk is currently, by some way, the area closest to being able to move back into Tier 1.

But we are not there yet.

Rates are still very high in some areas like Hadleigh and increasing in some of Ipswich and in other parts of Suffolk.

If we all play our part, follow the rules and bring the infection levels down then we stand a chance of being able to move down a tier when the government next reviews the tiers.

But let’s be clear – we should never have got to this position in the first place.

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In September, the infection rate in Suffolk was just five cases per 100,000 people.

At this level, Boris Johnson’s “world beating” Test and Trace system should have been able to keep a lid on cases.

The reality, as we know, is that Test and Trace is a hugely expensive flop that is only making a “marginal difference”.

This is why the original tiering system was introduced, but that too – as predicted when it was first announced – wasn’t enough to slow the spread of the disease.

The infection rate increased in pretty much all Tier 1 areas. Suffolk’s rate more than doubled.

So, after a month and a half’s worth of dithering Boris Johnson was finally forced into imposing the current lockdown, later and longer than it needed to be.

The prime minister promised lockdown would end on December 2 but by now putting nearly all the country into Tier 2 and 3 the government has actually imposed a new virtual national “lockdown lite”.

Last week’s Autumn Statement set out the economic damage this is causing - record government borrowing, soaring unemployment, frozen wages and the threat of future tax increases.

We are all going to pay the price for this government’s chaotic handling of the virus.

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