I’m sure all of you will have heard the government’s decision yesterday to move London into the ‘high’, or Tier 2, local COVID restrictions category, from one minute past midnight tonight: Friday, 16 October, says Councillor Julian Bell, leader of Ealing Council in his latest coronavirus video message (see above).
This was agreed by all London council leaders and the mayor, Sadiq Khan, with government. We argued for, and got, an improved package of financial support for hospitality businesses that will be affected by the new rules associated with Tier 2.
The main change is that households can’t mix with each other indoors (except where a single-person household has formed a support bubble with another household) – either in people’s homes or in pubs or restaurants. Now, households can still meet outside if they keep to the ‘rule of six’. People should avoid unnecessary travel, and follow all of the ‘Hands. Face. Space.’ rules that previously applied under Tier 1.
This week, up to 11 October, Ealing has seen a 43% rise in new COVID-19 cases, to 138.4 cases per 100,000 of population. That’s a total of 473 new cases in the borough in that week. This puts us second highest in London, behind Richmond, although the rolling daily weekly average has shown us to be the highest in London over the past few days.
We must, therefore, all follow the new rule not to mix households indoors and follow all the other rules – including not being in groups of more than six outdoors. We also need businesses to obey the rules. This week we have had incidents of large groups meeting indoors, against the rules, and very large fines can be issued as a result of such dangerous and selfish behaviour.
If people experience COVID symptoms: A temperature, a new persistent cough, a loss or change of taste or smell, please self-isolate and get a test. Those on low pay can now get a weekly £500 payment from the council if they are self-isolating.
I really hope this new ‘high’ Tier 2 set of restriction works, although I would have preferred a two-three week ‘circuit breaker’ with a proper financial compensation package for affected businesses.
The government urgently need to fix the test and trace system and hand more of this work over to local councils. We are ready to do this and help protect our residents.
Finally, today is Wear Red Day, hence my red tie, as part of the campaign to show racism the red card in football. We are lighting the town hall red tonight as part of the campaign to Kick Out Racism in football and as part of Black History Month. Please support that campaign and let’s all work together to keep Ealing safe and to stop the spread of the virus.