Dudley and Staffordshire to move into Tier 2 Covid restrictions this week

Dudley and Staffordshire will move into Tier 2 Covid restrictions this week – with talks planned for the whole West Midlands to move under the highest Tier 3 measures.

The two areas will join Wolverhampton, Walsall, Sandwell and Birmingham under Tier 2 "high" level restrictions after cases continued to surge in recent days.

The new restrictions are now expected to be announced on Thursday and are likely to come into force later this week.

It comes after the Black Country, Birmingham and Staffordshire recorded 70 coronavirus deaths in one week for the first time in five months, with 21 of these deaths confirmed on Wednesday.

Talks are due to take place between local leaders and ministers next week, with the possibility of moving the whole region into Tier 3 "very high" alert measures at the top of the agenda.

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The region is understood to be united in its opposition to the imposition of Tier 3, which would see pubs that do not serve substantial meals forced to close, as well as extra restrictions on households mixing.

Council leaders were due to meet on Wednesday with West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, to firm up proposals for a "Tier 2 plus" level of restrictions, which could enable hospitality venues to stay open.

They are understood to be considering putting forward a range of measures, including making wearing face masks mandatory everywhere outside homes and gardens.

The daily number of new coronavirus cases in the Dudley borough since September 1. Data: Public Health England
The daily number of new coronavirus cases in the Staffordshire borough since September 1. Data: Public Health England

Councillor Ian Brookfield, the leader of Wolverhampton Council, said: "We are doing everything we can to save the economy and save lives.

"The last thing we want to do is to blindly go into Tier 3."

It comes after the rate of infection has continued to rise sharply in recent weeks.

South Staffordshire now has the highest rate in the region at 364.7 cases per 100,000 in the seven days to October 23, while Dudley's rate rose to 222.6 over the same period.

The region's other rates are: Walsall (307.2); Cannock Chase (297.7); Sandwell (279.5); Birmingham (266.7); Wolverhampton (245.5); Stafford (205.4); and Lichfield (200.5).

Light

Dudley Council leader Patrick Harley, said the borough's move into Tier 2 had been "on the cards for a while".

"Cases have been rising and we need to be in Tier 2 for perhaps a month to see if it effects the figures," he said.

"The one light at the end of the tunnel is that clearly we are doing something right here in the West Midlands, as the rate of infection, although it is rising, is nowhere near the level it is in places like Manchester, Liverpool and Nottingham."

Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant, said that county-wide Tier 2 restrictions in Staffordshire "may be justified" due to rising cases.

He said: "Unfortunately, so far the movement between tiers is a one way ratchet: upwards.

"We can only begin to get out of these restrictions when the rate of infection per 100,000 population falls below the 140 mark," he said.

"When the 'R' rate begins to fall and eventually becomes less than one so that infection rates drop, I will then intercede - if necessary - with the Secretary of State to lower the alert level back to Tier 1.

"I fear that this may not begin to happen until after Christmas, and probably not until February or March."

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