Mayor hopes tougher covid-19 restrictions will be short-term

Biddulph is set to move into the “high alert” tier two of covid-19 restrictions, Staffordshire County Council has confirmed, after a rise in coronavirus cases in the Moorlands.
It will mean that people in the town will not be allowed to meet socially with friends and family indoors in any setting unless they have formed a support bubble with them, but an exact date for the introduction of the new measures has yet to be confirmed.
The mayor of Biddulph has urged residents to look after the town's elderly, as it is thought that the tier two restrictions could come into place as soon as this weekend.
Stoke-on-Trent and towns over the border in Cheshire East have already been placed in tier two.
Town mayor Independent Coun John Jones said he hoped that if the additional restrictions caused a fall in new cases, Biddulph could be taken off high alert in time for Christmas and avoid going into the very high tier with tougher restrictions, including some businesses being forced to close.
He said: “I think it's a shame that this has happened, but as I have said before, these things have to be done to save lives. Most people in Biddulph have done their best to stop the cases rising, so hopefully it will be a short term thing and the restrictions will be able to relax a bit more by the time we get to Christmas.
“In effect, the only significant change is that you can't mix indoors. I would urge people to look after the elderly and, if you have got an elderly neighbour, make sure that you check up on them. A lot of people are so scared of this thing that they have stayed indoors and haven't come out of their front gates since March.
“The tier two restrictions don't affect bubbles, so you will be able to form a bubble with one elderly relative.”
Alan White, the leader of Staffordshire County Council, said: “Our residents and businesses have made huge efforts to keep our county safe and open, but despite this, cases continue to rise rapidly and we are now facing tighter restrictions.
“This year, Staffordshire has showed what it does best - pulling together and supporting our communities, but now we need to redouble our efforts to avoid any further restrictions and protect our county.
“We can and we must rise to this new challenge, but it is down to each and every one of us to stick to the new rules when they do come into force to help keep Staffordshire safe and open for business.”
The county council said it is continuing to work with district and borough councils and partners to manage the impact of the restrictions and will continue to lobby Government for support for residents and businesses struggling during the pandemic, as well as support for wider efforts to contain the virus.
Dr Richard Harling, director of health and care, said: “The virus is spreading in Staffordshire largely through social contact, so this extra guidance on mixing indoors will hopefully help reduce the rate of infection.
“By sticking to the covid high alert rules, we have the best chance of not only curbing the spread of infection, but also of having these extra measures removed as quickly as possible.”
The new restrictions in Biddulph also mean that residents will not be allowed to meet indoors with people living in places with any other alert level, including those living in a lower alert level, but they may continue to see friends and family living in other households outside, including in gardens or other outdoor spaces.
The “rule of six” still applies. Full details of the guidance can be found online at gov.uk