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Julian Sturdy - Strong Voice for York Outer

Julian Sturdy

Member of Parliament for York Outer

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Julian presses Health Secretary on tiers criteria for York during tiers review statement

December 17, 2020

At today’s update on tiered restrictions in the House of Commons, Julian questioned Matt Hancock on which virus criteria York will have to improve on to be able to move down from tier 2 to tier 1 measures, once the current virus surge ends.

This was the first of regular fortnightly reviews of tier positions under the renewed tiered restrictions system introduced earlier this month, meant to tailor the strength of the measures applied in each area to reflect the local level of coronavirus.

Given the ongoing virus surge, much of southeast England was escalated to tier 3, only Herefordshire was moved into tier 1, and York and North Yorkshire will remain in tier 2 at least until the next review. Tier 2 prohibits indoor mixing between households in hospitality venues and private homes, and closes pubs and bars that cannot operate as eateries, with hospitality venues only able to serve alcohol with a substantial meal.

Tiering decisions are substantially based on five criteria : case detection rates in all age groups, case detection rates in the over 60s, the rate at which cases are rising or falling, positivity rate (the number of positive cases detected as a percentage of tests taken), and pressure on the NHS.

This afternoon Julian asked the Health Secretary: “There will be naturally disappointment across Yorkshire as many areas stay in tier 3, and I appreciate that York’s tier position will obviously be affected by the current virus picture.

But can I ask the Secretary of State which of the five criteria the City of York will have to improve on to stand a good chance of moving down a tier at future reviews? And will this depend to a significant extent on how our neighbouring local authorities perform against these five criteria?”

Matt Hancock replied: “We do look at those human geographies, because many people commute from North Yorkshire into York, but York and in fact many of the local authorities around it have done an absolutely fantastic job of bringing the virus under control.

In York the case rate is 65 per 100,000, a little bit higher than we typically take places into tier 1. For instance, Herefordshire is 45, which is the same level Cornwall was when it was put into tier 1, but it’s [York] moving in the right direction. The over-60s case rate is also low, there has been some pressure as he knows on the hospital, but that is abating, so York and large swathes of North Yorkshire are moving in the right direction, and I would urge everybody right across North Yorkshire to stick at it.

After hearing the Health Secretary’s response, Julian said:

“I am quite reassured by this clarity from Matt Hancock on which indicators York needs to hit to move down a tier, which sadly but understandably will not be possible before Christmas due to rising rates nationwide. Knowing we need to get our case rates down from the mid-sixties to the mid-forties per 100,000, and see reduced pressure on hospital places provides a clear target to aim for.

I do fear the social and economic impact of prolonged tier 2 restrictions, and have pushed for us to go down a tier in recognition of our lower rate, but respect that the national picture makes it difficult to do this immediately, and the imperative to protect local NHS capacity so residents can get covid care when necessary.

After this answer, I am more hopeful about the outcome of future fortnightly reviews of our city’s tier position, and at least feel more confident that in future our local efforts against the virus will be fairly considered when deciding the restrictions that apply.”