The Prime Minister’s attempt to simplify the confusing patchwork of covid-19 rules and regulations has placed the five councils that make up the Tees Valley, including Middlesbrough and Hartlepool, on the same level.
The new restrictions mean that people cannot meet people from another household in an indoor environment, including homes, pubs and restaurants.
But why has it happened now?
Increased infection rates
In the past five days, Stockton has had the highest infection rate on Teesside, with 278.7 cases per 100,000 residents in the borough.
It exploded last weekend when more than 300 ‘missing’ covid-19 cases were added to the Teesside borough totals.
A computer error meant that if positive results were sent to those who were sick, contact tracing had not been performed – potentially meaning that several hundred, if not thousands, of people had been infected over a period of seven days in Teesside by positive cases who had no idea they had the virus.
In Redcar and Cleveland, the infection rate remained lower than that of neighboring authorities – in part thanks to low levels of transmission in rural areas of the borough, especially in East Cleveland.
But some parts, including the TS6 area including Eston, Normanby, Bankfields, Teesville, Grangetown, and South Bank, have had very high transmission rates.
This area – on the border with Middlesbrough – currently has 72 active covid-19 cases, and targeted work has been done by Redcar and Cleveland Council to try to reduce the spread of the virus.
And the rounding rate as a whole has now climbed to 195.4.
Level two local locking on Teesside
Admission to hospital
Across the UK there are now more covid-19 patients in hospital than there were when we entered the full nationwide lockdown in March.
But there is great regional variation – with hospitals in the Northwest and Northeast reporting the bulk of new admissions and, sadly, deaths.
While covid intensive care wards at Middlesbrough’s James Cook University Hospital and North Tees University Hospital have yet to reach levels seen at the peak of the first wave, hospital bosses have indicated that cases were on the rise.
James Cook consultant Dr Richard Cree said in his latest blog that the number of patients in the ICU is currently only balanced by the speed of the patient death rate.
“We are also starting to run out of beds. We are ventilating four patients from our high dependency unit and had to transfer a few patients to other hospitals due to a lack of intensive care beds, ”he said.
“I’m afraid we won’t have to delay expanding our box spring to cope with the workload. “
High level discussions
The way in which “local lockdowns” have been decided by the government in recent months is puzzling to say the least.
On September 17, it was announced that the seven north-eastern authorities north of Teesside would be subject to further restrictions.
At this point, Teesside was on ministers’ radar for further action, but the five council leaders rejected them, instead asking for more time and support to reduce the number of cases on their own.
Teesside Live understands that new measures in Stockton, Redcar and Cleveland were also considered when Middlesbrough and Hartlepool were put into local lockdowns on October 1.
And last week, before the new tier system was fully developed by the government, the two boroughs were again discussed by Health Secretary Matt Hancock at Wednesday’s Gold Command meeting. .
But due to the imminent announcement of the new system, the implementation of new restrictions has been delayed again.
Why wait so long?
There was opposition to new lockdowns in both arrondissements.
Council leaders – independent Mary Lanigan in Redcar and Cleveland, and Bob Cook of Labor in Stockton – kept their powder dry and did not approach the government for help, as Mayor Andy Preston did in Middlesbrough.
And Tory MPs including Simon Clarke, whose constituency of Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland is half-located in Redcar and Cleveland, Redcar MP Jacob Young and Stockton South MP Matt Vickers, have all lobbied the government to avoid further restrictions.
When the decision was made to put Middlesbrough and Hartlepool on ‘local lockdown’, she used infection rate data from September 17-23, which showed the two boroughs to be 95 and 110 cases per 100,000, respectively. .
Stockton at the time was 73, while Redcar and Cleveland were 54.7.
What you should know about local locks
Since restrictions were put in place the rate has increased by around 2.8 times in Middlesbrough and around 2.1 times in Hartlepool.
But in unlocked Stockton, the infection rate has increased 3.8 times while it has increased 3.6 times in Redcar and Cleveland.
When Teesside Live asked the Department of Health and Welfare why only Middlesbrough and Hartlepool were originally included, a spokesperson said: “We work alongside scientific and public health experts and local leaders and continuously monitor a wide range of data and evidence. We are ready to take swift and decisive action to reduce the transmission of the virus and protect communities.
“We are seeing coronavirus cases increasing at a rapid rate across the country and, given the severity of this virus, it is vital that everyone play their part by following the rule of six, washing their hands, practicing social distancing and wearing a mask spaces. “
“Great pressure on mental health”
The reason executives have resisted further restrictions on Teesside is because of the damage the new laws will do to the hospitality industry and to people’s sanity.
In fact, Mr Preston and Hartlepool Council Chief Shane Moore had called on the government to ban only households from mingling in private homes, but to allow the ‘rule of six’ to continue in pubs. and restaurants, to allow people to continue to meet with friends and family in a safe place.
They were both furious when the restrictions went further, saying they had been ignored by ministers.
After the rules were imposed on Redcar and Cleveland on Monday, Mr Young MP told Boris Johnson in parliament that the new rules “would naturally put a strain on the sanity of my constituents who will now be limited in their interactions with their friends. , family and partners “.
Council chief Cllr Lanigan said she was disappointed and had not asked for the further action.
“There has to be a way out of the restrictions and we are pushing the government to establish clear guidelines so that we all know when we can start seeing our friends and family again,” he said. she declared. “It will also allow our businesses to plan with confidence and means jobs will be saved rather than lost. Not knowing what to do to have the restrictions lifted would be extremely damaging to the well-being of our residents and to the viability of our economy. ”