Shoppers and market stall holders in Dudley High Street have had their say as the borough entered a new level of coronavirus restrictions today.
Dudley, alongside Staffordshire, joined Wolverhampton, Walsall, Sandwell and Birmingham under Tier 2 “high” level restrictions today, after cases continued to surge.
In the seven days leading up to October 26, Dudley’s rate of infection had risen to 260.6 cases per 100,000 people, up from 163.9 the week before.
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For people out doing their shopping or selling their wares at the market in the High Street on Friday, there was a feeling of inevitability about the move into the high tier.
And it has since emerged that the Government is considering implementing a new national lockdown from as early as next week.
Robert Baker, who lives in the centre of the town, said it was the right thing to do to help fight the virus.
The 75-year-old said: “I think it’s entirely justified to go into Tier 2 and if we have to do it, then so be it as if we can stop it going higher now, we might be able to stop it before Christmas.
“Part of it could be due to people not following the rules or not being careful, but I don’t think people really know what they’re doing at the moment.”
Robert’s view was one shared by Irene Hickman, who had come into Dudley from Tipton with her partner Malcolm Edwards to do her shopping.
The 73-year-old said: “I think it’s right to go into Tier 2 and, if I’m honest, I think we should do a three-week lockdown so that we’ll at least have a Christmas.
“It’ll benefit everyone if we can close down for that time and I don’t think it’ll have that much of an effect on businesses if it’s a short thing.
"They keep blaming young people for the rise in infections, but I think everyone has a part in this and has to do their bit to make it right.”
Latest Covid-19 infection rates in the region
The latest rolling seven-day infection rate of Covid-19 by local authority area, compared to the previous week.
The figures are for the seven days to October 26, with data for the most recent four days (October 27-30) excluded as it is incomplete and does not reflect the true number of cases.
The rate is expressed as the number of new cases per 100,000 people.
From left to right, it reads: name of local authority; rate of new cases in the seven days to October 26; number (in brackets) of new cases recorded in the seven days to October 26; rate of new cases in the seven days to October 19; number (in brackets) of new cases recorded in the seven days to October 19.
South Staffordshire 401.1 (451), 237.5 (267)
Cannock Chase 343.4 (346), 230.2 (232)
Walsall 336.3 (960), 235.0 (671)
Sandwell 317.9 (1044), 223.5 (734)
Stoke-on-Trent 315.9 (810), 221.6 (568)
Birmingham 276.4 (3156), 240.6 (2747)
Dudley 260.6 (838), 163.9 (527)
Wolverhampton 251.0 (661), 197.8 (521)
Stafford 243.3 (334), 162.4 (223)
Lichfield 234.8 (246), 164.2 (172)
Solihull 229.2 (496), 225.5 (488)
Telford and Wrekin 219.6 (395), 168.5 (303)
Shropshire 135.5 (438), 87.3 (282)
Malcolm said he agreed with Irene’s idea of a short lockdown, with the 74-year-old also talking about what he believed the causes were.
He said: “A lot of this is down to people not sticking to the rules around wearing masks and social distancing.
"It'll affect some businesses, but it's better than a deadly disease passing around people, so I think we need to put our lives ahead of everything else."
For stall holders in the market, news of the new restrictions has been met with a mixture of trepidation about the future and realism about the situation.
Wendy Farmer has run Wendy’s baby stall at the market for more than 30 years, while Samantha Downton had been operating Angelic Gifts at the market for just a few months.
Samantha said she had already begun to make plans to move from the market due to restrictions and lack of trade and said people needed to use common sense to stop more restrictions being added.
She said: “You’ve got to be sensible, keep your distance, wear a mask and wash your hands, and I see a lot of people who aren’t doing that.
"This will be the last time I’ll be here as I don’t feel there’s any point and I can see a lot of long-term stall holders considering their futures as this will really affect them.”
Wendy said she was worried about less trade, but also said she believed the restrictions were needed and could go further.
She said: “I think we should have a complete lockdown for three weeks and see where we are after that, see if the cases have dropped or not.
"Right now, less people are coming out because they’re worried about catching the virus, which means we’re getting less people.”