The new national lockdown measures announced by the Prime Minister have come into effect, with limits on what the people of Bradford and Kirklees along with the rest of England can and can’t do until 2 December.
The message from the Prime Minister is to stay at home again in order to bring down the R rate of Coronavirus infections.
Despite moving to a three-tiered system a few weeks ago, the measures have not had the desired effect and as of Wednesday 4 November there were a further 25,177 cases and 492 COVID deaths reported bringing the total to 47,742.
The new national lockdown will replace the tiered system temporarily, with everyone in England being told to stay at home except for education, work (if it can’t be done from home), exercise, medical reasons, shopping for food and other essentials, or to care for others.
MPs voted to support the measures announced by the government which means that from 12:01 on 5 November:
- All pubs, cafes and restaurants will have to close to the public, only takeaway and delivery services can continue.
- Workplaces will be asked to stay open if people cannot work from home – including construction and manufacturing
- Households will not be allowed to mix with others indoors, or in private gardens
- Support bubbles for people who live alone and single parent households can continue
- Individuals can meet one person from outside their household in an outside public space. Children under five are not counted
- Children will be able to move between homes if parents are separated
- Outdoor exercise and recreation will be allowed.
Reacting to the announcements by the Prime Minister Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Leader of Bradford Council, said: “We know this is going to be a tough winter. These restrictions ask huge sacrifices of businesses and communities. But we ask that people across the district pull together so that we can emerge from these restrictions in a better place. We ask that people support each other as best they can.
“We know from the national lockdown earlier this year that many in our communities went above and beyond to help, and we will need that spirit and cooperation again so that we can protect the most vulnerable in our district.
“Above all, it is clearly vital that everyone in our district follows the new restrictions so that we can bring infection rates down and save people’s lives. So please can I ask that people wear a mask, wash your hands, keep two metres apart and stay at home. “
Leader of Kirklees Council, Councillor Shabir Pandor, said:
“We have to do all we can to bring infection rates down and we must take the situation we’re in very seriously. My message to residents is clear; please take note of these changes and follow them, as I know you will. Please also keep doing the basics such as social distancing, hand washing, wearing face coverings and isolating if you have symptoms. This is the best way we can protect each other.
This has been a challenging and difficult time for all of us and I am in no doubt that the challenges will continue, but we should all be proud of how Kirklees has pulled together during this pandemic and it’s that community spirit that will get us through this. We can only do this with you.”
However, Conservative MP for Shipley Philip Davies is against the lockdown measures saying shutting down the economy was not the answer and dismissed claims lockdown will save lives.
“It is perfectly clear that lockdowns do not even work. They do not save lives, they merely spread them out over a longer period of time but lockdowns do cost lives as well as livelihoods not to mention the other health implications of collapsing the economy, in particular the effects on people’s mental health. If lockdowns and blizzards of arbitrary rules were the solution to this problem, we would have solved it months ago. We have not been short on version after version of senseless arbitrary rules which have no scientific basis behind them at all. There have been a new set of rules virtually every week but yet the government still persist with this failed strategy.”
NO MORE TIER SYSTEM
After 2 December, different regions will return to the tiered system, depending upon their rates of infection. West Yorkshire was set to move into Tier 3 before the month-long lockdown was announced. The region could still move into Tier 3 on 2 December if the infection rate remains high.
According to the 32 pages of regulations set out by the government the lockdown until the 2 December across England will be slightly different to the spring, as during the first peak of the coronavirus everything closed, this time there are a few exceptions to the rules.
WHO CAN STAY OPEN?
Schools, Colleges and Universities are now remaining open to all students to continue their education in the classroom, this is to stop children falling behind in their learning. In March, only children of key workers were allowed to continue to go to school.
WHO CAN’T STAY OPEN?
The businesses that are allowed to remain open during November are:
- Essential retail such as food shops, supermarkets, pharmacies, garden centres, hardware stores, building merchants and off-licences. Petrol stations, car repair and MOT services, bicycle shops, and taxi and vehicle hire businesses.
- Banks, building societies, post offices, loan providers and money transfer businesses
- Funeral directors
- Launderettes and dry cleaners
- Medical and dental services
- Vets and pet shops
- Agricultural supplies shops
- Storage and distribution facilities
- Car parks, public toilets and motorway service areas.
- Outdoor playgrounds
All other business such as clothing and homeware stores, vehicle showrooms, gyms, auction houses, tailors, car washes, cinemas, hairdressers, travel agents, swimming pools, theatres, nail and beauty salons, dance studios, hotels, tattoo parlours, spas, soft play centres, golf courses, arcades, museums and places of worship (apart from for the purposes of independent prayer, and service broadcasting and funerals) must close until the 2 December.
Business that can operate a click and collect or delivery service are encouraged to do so.
The government are also advising to remain in your local area and not conduct any unnecessary travelling. They are advising us to walk or cycle where we can and avoid using public transport.
Overnight stays and holidays away from primary residences will not be allowed- including holidays in the UK and abroad. This includes staying in a second home or caravan, if you own one, or staying with anyone you do not live with or are in a support bubble with.
The foreign office is advising Brits abroad that they do not need to return home immediately. However, they should check with their airline or travel operator for returning.
JOB SUPPORT & OTHER FINANCE SCHEMES
With the fresh lockdown measures, many jobs will be lost due to the impact of the Coronavirus on the economy. The Chancellor Rishi Sunak was under pressure to continue the furlough scheme and support workers with 80 percent of their salary. The scheme was set to close at the end of October to be replaced by the Job Support Scheme.
Under the Job Support Scheme employees in Bradford and Kirklees that were unable to work due to closures would have seen that 80 percent of their salary drop to 67 percent. If business could operate under the proposed tier 3 restrictions that were due to come in, then employees could work some of their hours and have it topped up by the government, meaning they would receive 73 percent of their salary.
The government has postponed the Job Support Scheme until after the new lockdown restrictions ease again, meaning those who are unable to work will remain on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme or ‘furlough’ and receive 80 percent of their wages.
Those who are contacted by Test and Trace and told to isolate due to contacting COVID-19 or coming into contact with someone who has tested positive have been eligible for a £500 Test and Trace Support Payment since the end of September if isolating impacts their ability to go to work.
Home owners can breathe a sigh of relief as well as the mortgage payment holiday is set to continue, with borrowers who have been impacted by coronavirus and have not yet had a mortgage payment holiday will be entitled to a six-month holiday, and those that have already started a mortgage payment holiday will be able to top up to six months without this being recorded on their credit file.
BUSINESS FINANCIAL SUPPORT
Businesses who are impacted by the lockdown measures can get financial aid from the Treasury.
Businesses required to close in England due to the national restrictions will be eligible for grants depending on their value of up to £3000 per month under a Local Restrictions Support Grant.
A further £1.1 billion will be given to local authorities distributed on the basis of £20 per head for one-off payments to support businesses.
The restrictions in November have an aim to allow families to gather for Christmas, however another religious gathering has been impacted by these restrictions. Families will be unable to celebrate Diwali this year in the way they would normally.
The five-day Diwali celebrations for the festival of light starts on Saturday 14 November and is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and other communities across Bradford and Kirklees. Residents in the region are being encouraged to mark Diwali as best they can but to keep to the regulations to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Reacting to the news that Diwali celebrations will be impacted Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, Leader of Bradford Council sent her apologies to the communities:
” I want to send my heartfelt sympathy to residents who would normally be celebrating at this special time of year.” COVID19 is affecting all our lives and we all notice it more at times like Diwali when families normally get together to celebrate and share this important festival. Hopefully there will be a vaccine available in the not too distant future which will allow us to get back to a more normal life in time for next year’s Diwali celebrations. In the meantime, we have still put up the lovely Diwali lights all around the city centre in Bradford to remind everyone that even in a time of darkness, the light can shine through.”