Local leaders are “disappointed” and “frankly devastated” that Greater Lincolnshire will be placed into the toughest restrictions when it comes out of lockdown on December 2.
Parts of Lincolnshire, including East Lindsey and Boston, have among the highest infection rates across the nation.
Others, such as South Holland, have among the lowest infection rates, and local leaders already argued they should not be subject to the same restrictions.
In their decision notes, the government said: “There has been an overall improvement, but case rates remain high throughout the county.
“NHS pressures in Lincolnshire remain high and show signs of increasing, particularly for the units treating the more serious cases.”
Lincolnshire County Council leader Martin Hill warned of a “crippling effect” on the hospitality sector and questioned why the whole of Lincolnshire should go into tier 3 “for the sake of higher rates in some districts”
“It doesn’t make sense,” he said. The outbreak management board that Councillor Hill chairs agreed on Wednesday to write to government calling for more localised rules and control.
Lincoln’s MP Karl McCartney said the blame for the city being in tier 3 lays on “much higher rates of infection elsewhere in Lincolnshire”.
The city’s council leader also Ric Metcalfe warned of a “significant impact” on the hospitality industry but said he was confident Lincoln could get out of tier 3 by Christmas.
East Lindsey District Council was the third highest council area for infection rates in the UK earlier this week at 470.6 per 100,000 people.
Council leader Councillor Craig Leyand called on people to “recognise the gravity of the situation” and play their part in following the restrictions.
Business leaders have also had their say, with the Federation of Small Businesses in Lincolnshire manager Katrina Pierce saying the organisation was “frankly devastated” by the news. She said hotel owners would be “heartbroken”
Speaking in the House of Commons earlier, health secretary Matt Hancock said he was “grateful for the resolve people have shown”.
He said, however, that despite not renewing national restrictions, the scientific and medical advice had shown “we must make the tiers tougher than they were before, to protect the NHS through the winter.”
“These decisions are not easy, but they are necessary,” he said.
“While all three tiers are less stringent than the national lockdown that we’re all living in now, to keep people safe and to keep the gains that have been made more areas than before will be in the top two tears.
“This is necessary to protect our NHS, and keep the virus on the control.”
The average infection rate for Lincolnshire is 289.5 per 100,000 people compared to an England rate of 218.4.
North and North East Lincolnshire have rates of 395.3 and 421.2 respectively.
Councillor Martin Hill – Leader of Lincolnshire County Council
Lincolnshire County Council Leader Martin Hill said: “It’s very disappointing that the whole of Lincolnshire has gone into tier 3, as we are seeing infection rates fall, especially in those few districts that were previously causing concern – and this could have a crippling effect on our hospitality sector.
“Although our figures have been high in some districts and lower elsewhere, there’s a clear levelling off and drop in the numbers as the lockdown restrictions and the considerable efforts of our residents begin to take effect.
“While some of our districts have infection rates well below the England average, why should the whole of Lincolnshire go into tier 3 for the sake of higher rates in some districts – it doesn’t make sense.
He said more support will be needed for the county’s business in addition to furlough and other support.
“Many of our businesses will only partially open and need the Christmas economy to survive given the nature of this year.
“As a minimum we will need additional discretionary business support grants so we can assist those most in need and look forward to a conversation about these details so our economy is not disadvantaged.”
“It seems like a big blow for Lincolnshire, with our residents working with us all the way to bring down infection rates.
“Four of our districts have infection rates below the national average and I’m expecting the drop in those other areas to continue, which means we could soon be below the England average.
“We’ll be looking to move out of tier 3 as soon as possible if the picture continues to improve.”
Karl McCartney – Lincoln MP
Lincoln MP Karl McCartney said: “I realise that my constituency of Lincoln and my constituents in the main have been conscious of what they have been guided to do by government so far.
“The overwhelming majority have used their common sense in acting responsibly and this has kept our incidence of COVID-19 comparatively low, compared to other areas of the country and county of Lincolnshire.
“As the tier level decision has been made on a county basis we find ourselves in tier 3 due to much higher rates of infection elsewhere in Lincolnshire.
“I am sure my constituents will work and conduct their daily lives and enjoy the upcoming festive Christmas seasonal as best they can, using their good judgement and common sense as they have done throughout this pandemic.”
Councillor Ric Metcalfe – City of Lincoln Council Leader
Cllr Ric Metcalfe, Leader at City of Lincoln Council said: “I am very disappointed that central government has chosen to place Lincoln in the highest tier.
“This ranking will, once again, have a significant impact on the city’s hospitality sector and we will be encouraging government to consider further support for the industry to see them through the festive season.
“Over recent days, the number of positive cases in the city have shown a downward trend.
“I am confident that by working hard with residents and partners across the city we can continue to drive our infection rates down and aim to safely move out of tier 3 in time for Christmas.”
Councillor Craig Leyland – East Lindsey District Council leader
“It’s clearly disappointing to find out that Lincolnshire will enter the highest tier of restrictions when the national lockdown comes to an end on December 2.
“I am, of course, concerned for those who will be impacted by these new restrictions, especially those businesses who face an extended period of being unable to open.
“We will continue to work to support those affected as we have throughout the pandemic.
“We must recognise the gravity of the situation and we must all now play our part in following the restrictions; I encourage all our residents and businesses to make themselves familiar with the new rules that will be coming into effect.
“Hopefully, if we all play our part, we will begin to see restrictions eased as the tiers are reviewed in the coming weeks.”
Councillor Philip Jackson – North East Lincolnshire Council leader
“We know that this is a difficult time, especially for the most vulnerable.
“This is a challenging situation, and will understandably cause concern, but I would urge everyone in the borough to stay strong and keep going during the difficult weeks and months ahead.
“We will be working with other local authorities to do what we can to reduce the restrictions quickly, but everyone needs to play their part.”
Katrina Pierce – Development Manager for the Federation of Small Businesses in Lincolnshire
“We were expecting this, but hearing the stark news that the whole of Lincolnshire will face the highest restrictions for at least two weeks – right in the run up to Christmas – is frankly devastating.
“Our county’s hospitality businesses will really feel the sharp sting of this decision at a point in the year when they would ordinarily be at their busiest.
“The owners and staff of cafes, pubs, hotels, restaurants and cinemas have gone above and beyond throughout the pandemic to protect customers, spending huge sums of money to make their venues Covid-secure, only to now face this news.
“They will of course comply with the restrictions but today’s news will be heart-breaking for them.
“We can only hope that the review in two weeks’ time will see enough progress to allow for a move down the tier system so these businesses can reopen for Christmas. They will be pinning hope on that.”
Matt Warman – Boston and Skegness MP
MP Matt Warman said: “I know how difficult today’s news will be for people in Boston & Skegness.
“I am hugely grateful to everyone who has obeyed the rules and, through no fault of their own, will still find themselves bound by such restrictions.
“The tier allocations will be reviewed based on local data, and if it is safe to do so, we will be able to move to lighter restrictions.
“We will not be in Tier 3 forever, but the longer we take to bear down on the virus, the longer we will spend in the highest of tiers.
“These restrictions are not a boundary to push, they are rules that will keep people safe and stop our local NHS services from becoming overwhelmed.
“There’s light at the end of the tunnel in the form of promising vaccine developments, but in the meantime we must pull together to make it through this winter period.
“We all have a personal and collective responsibility to our friends, family and neighbours.”
Councillor Paul Skinner – Leader of Boston Borough Council
Paul Skinner, the Leader of Boston Borough Council, said: “I am very disappointed to find out that Lincolnshire will be entering the highest tier of restrictions when the national lockdown comes to an end on December 2.
“However, I am deeply concerned for those who will be impacted especially for those businesses who face an extended period of being unable to open.
“We as a council will continue to work to support those affected as we have so far throughout the pandemic.
“We have to acknowledge the seriousness of the situation and we must all now play our part in following the restrictions; I ask you all, our residents and businesses to make yourselves familiar with the new rules that will be coming into effect.
“If we all play our part, we will begin to see restrictions eased as the tiers are reviewed every two weeks (as announced by government).”
Councillor Richard Wright – Leader of North Kesteven District Council
Richard Wright, Leader of North Kesteven District Council, said: “Being placed in tier 3 vividly illustrates the fact that transmission and levels of infection remain higher than we would like and, I hope, helps us all to focus our energies on compliance and a positive intent to drive down rates as soon as we can.
“I acknowledge that it will be disappointing to some residents and businesses which were hoping to get back to a position that is closer to normal, and as a Council we will be supporting those most affected, such as with access to grants for the hospitality trades.
“But right now it is essential that we focus on our minds on what we all need to do to bring the transmission rate down and ultimately move towards the lower tiers.
“While North Kesteven’s rates are lower than some others, we know that the virus doesn’t respect administrative boundaries and need to work together to keep the virus under control. The way to lift the whole of Lincolnshire out of Tier 3 is by acting responsibly.”