Waveney MP calls for support for 'hard hit' hospitality businesses
- Credit: Archant
A MP has called for greater support for the hospitality sector in Waveney after the government announced Suffolk, and the whole of the east of England, would be placed in tier two of the new restrictions.
Waveney MP Peter Aldous called for a "roadmap" out of the tougher restrictions and urged more support for those businesses who have been "very hard hit" ahead of the festive season.
Mr Aldous questioned health secretary Matt Hancock in the House of Commons on Thursday morning, shortly after the announcement of the tiers, with the West Suffolk MP saying the decision on the county's tier was made "with a heavy heart."
Mr Aldous said: "Up until yesterday I was expecting us to go into tier two, but the latest figures from the NHS services locally were encouraging.
"However, when I got to the chamber, it was very clear the government were going to take a very cautious approach and I can understand that.
"We need to have a roadmap to get back into tier one as quickly as possible and we know there will be reviews in two weeks and every week after.
"If we can carry on with the good work we have been doing in lockdown and throughout it all, I would hope we can move back into tier one sooner rather than later.
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"But the hospitality sector has been very hard hit, especially at what would normally be an extremely busy period ahead of Christmas.
"They are appreciative of the support but it is going to be difficult for them. They have good prospects but we have to do more."
Restrictions are now set to come into place from December 2 at least until restrictions are reviewed on December 16.
The tier means Suffolk residents will not be allowed to meet people from other households or support bubbles indoors, visit pubs and bars not serving food, stay overnight with people from another household or support bubble or exercise indoors with people from another household or support bubble if there is any interaction between them.
People are also encouraged to work from home and limit journeys where possible.
Speaking on Thursday morning, Mr Aldous asked the health secretary for "very clear indicators as to what else needs to be done" to make sure the county moves to tier one "as quickly as possible".
He also requested Mr Hancock liaise with chancellor Rishi Sunak to put in place an additional support for hospitality businesses in the area.
Mr Hancock said: "Of course I have constant discussions with the chancellor about the support that is needed.
"My honourable friend is right to raise it, especially in Suffolk.
"It is with a heavy heart that we took the decision to put Suffolk in tier two.
"The case rate is higher than the Isle of Wight and Cornwall, which are the two areas currently in tier one, but that does give an indication of where we need to get too and I am sure that if we all work together we will get there."
Despite Suffolk witnessing lower levels of infection than elsewhere in the region and country, the current infection rate of 85 cases per 100,000 people is more than double what it was when Suffolk entered tier one on October 14, with 35 cases per 100,000.
Stuart Keeble, Suffolk's director of public health, said: "I fully understand that many people will be disappointed Suffolk has not emerged from the national restrictions in a lower tier, or indeed no tier at all. I am too.
"Suffolk has done well at keeping our infection rates lower than many other areas in the country and for that I would like to thank people for what they have done.
"The facts facing us today are clear, however. With current infection rates and pressure being put on health services, we need to do more of what we have been doing. We need to stick with it.
"We know what we need to do to get Suffolk back on track. Every one of us needs to keep following the rules to stop the spread of Covid-19.
"We need to ensure our hospitals can continue to care for people who urgently need help, including those without Covid.
"We need to be responsible today for a better tomorrow."
The Department of Health said decisions on tier levels were based on a number of factors, including case detection rates in all age groups and, in particular, amongst the over 60s.