Lincolnshire has been put in the lowest risk category (medium – tier one) under the government’s new three tier alert system – but health bosses say the county should not get over confident.
Under the new three-tier response, areas of the country can be placed at medium (tier 1), high (tier 2) or very high (tier 3) risk, with Lincolnshire currently in the medium category.
North and North East Lincolnshire authorities are also both under the same tier 1.
However, Lincolnshire County Council’s Director of Public Health Professor Derek Ward said that lowest tier will “still have a significant number of new cases every day.”
“We are in the lowest lowest level of COVID-alerts as we thought we would be, but that level is called medium for a reason.
“We are seeing significant numbers of positive cases every day, and what that means for the people in the county is we need to be especially vigilant and we need to carry on doing what we’ve done so far.”
Prof Ward said a number of criteria will be used to define where an authority rises up the tiers of concern.
Lincolnshire alone has gone from two to four cases a day in the summer to 70-80-plus now.
However, its most recent seven-day infection rate of around 64 per 100,000 of the population is well below the government’s 100 per 100k threshold.
In terms of testing, the positivity rate is around 3% overall, below the government’s 7.5% threshold.
Council bosses across the county, however, seem to disagree on how the local tier rules should apply.
Lord Gary Porter, leader of South Holland District Council, tweeted: “People don’t live, work or play at a county level, they do it in district, or in some cases sub-district level.
“We won’t be able to credibly tell the residents of South Holland their liberty has to be further curtailed because the infection rate in the city [Lincoln] is going through the roof.”
Lincolnshire County Council Leader Martin Hill also argued “it shouldn’t be on administrative boundaries,” with Lincoln highlighted as a possible hotspot in the county. “We could sort it out locally if allowed,” he tweeted.
However, highways executive at Lincolnshire County Council, Councillor Richard Davies accused Lord Porter of “turning the public health crisis into point scoring over local government simplification” — referring to the ongoing argument over devolution of the Greater Lincolnshire area, which includes the north and north east unitary authorities.
Councillor Hill agreed with Councillor Porter that local discretion was needed “to target outbreaks without covering the whole of our large geography.”