A suggestion by a former council boss that Lincolnshire could “be an island” against COVID has been rebuked by response leaders.
Councillor Jeff Summers, who used to head West Lindsey District Council but now sits as an independent, said that as coronavirus numbers increased, and Lincolnshire’s neighbours headed into higher tiers of alert status and tougher restrictions, the county’s “natural resources” could be used as a blockade.
He suggested police and local authorities on both sides of the Rivers Humber and Trent could restrict movement and only allow “the most necessary of people” into the county, furloughing workers who usually cross the borders unless they could work from home.
“We have been very lucky [around COVID] so far and that’s mainly down to sparsity [of population],” he said.
Greater Lincolnshire on Wednesday recorded its highest daily figure yet, with 367 new cases confirmed. Nationally 26,688 cases of COVID were recorded.
South Yorkshire, which borders Lincolnshire to the north, will be placed in the toughest measures at tier 3, and Nottinghamshire is said to be in talks to raise their alert status to the same level.
“We are now under severe pressure from two sides – to the north and west of the district – and when we’ve got high and very high tiers it’s going to get worse, there’s no doubt about that,” said Councillor Summers.
“If local authorities and police work together on this, I think something positive could come out of it.”
A spokesperson for the Lincolnshire Resilience Forum, however, said the idea would “send out the wrong messages” and impact the reputation of the county.
They said: “All partner agencies across Lincolnshire have been working exceptionally hard to help residents keep safe during the pandemic and we’d like to sincerely thank the vast majority of our residents who continue to comply with guidelines.
“As we approach the winter months, we are seeing a national trend of rising infection rates and Lincolnshire is no exception, despite relatively low levels compared to other parts of the country.
“The only way that we can tackle this pandemic effectively is by working in partnership with other bordering counties.
“This is something we are doing on a daily basis, particularly with our colleagues in Nottinghamshire and South Yorkshire.
“No county is an island and no-one should be working in isolation when it comes to keeping residents safe.
“Any suggestion of isolating Lincolnshire from the rest of the country will send out all the wrong messages and the reputation of a county that’s historically viewed as inclusive and welcoming will be severely harmed for many years to come.”