This afternoon, Health secretary Matt Hancock has announced that Stoke-on-Trent will be entering Tier two from Friday. This will leave Newcastle Borough sandwiched between two local authorities with higher levels of restrictions.
In a statement made to the House of Commons this afternoon, Matt Hancock said “cases are doubling around every fortnight and we’re seeing a concerning increase in cases among the over sixties so we’ve agreed with local leaders to move the area (Stoke-on-Trent) into the high local alert level”
The Tier Two restrictions in neighbouring local authorities Stoke-on-Trent and Cheshire East mean that people cannot mix indoors with people outside of their household or support bubble. However, socialising outside is not restricted but the rule of 6 still applies. As well people living in these areas should reduce the numbers of journeys where possible
We understand that, while cases are continuing to increase in Newcastle, the council will not be tightening restrictions in line with the increase to tier two in Stoke-on-Trent. This will mean that as of Saturday 24th October 00:01, areas in Basford and between Kidsgrove and Goldenhill will fall between both tier one and tier two restrictions.
This has led to criticism from some who say that the whole of North Staffordshire should be treated as one area rather than individual authorities to avoid confusion. Following the announcement former Stoke-on-Trent Central Labour MP and council leader, Gareth Snell said on Twitter “Moving Stoke-on-Trent and not the rest of North Staffs into Tier 2 is very odd. Does it mean 2 residents of Stoke can’t mix in their own homes but can go to a 6 person party over in Newcastle.”
In a letter sent to households in Newcastle last week, residents were told that “the weekly case rate is currently 124.1 per 100,000 people, higher than both average Staffordshire and West Midlands rates.”
As well, Keele University has seen since 18th September; 91 confirmed student cases off campus, 53 confirmed student cases on campus and 10 staff members test positive for coronavirus. With cases now appearing to level off after an initial spike at the start of term.
The university is continuing to encourage staff and students on campus to download the SafeZone app and “enable ‘automatic check-in’ to assist with track and trace requirements”.
Following government guidance, students and staff who have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus must also self isolate until they get a negative test.
Keele University is currently at operation level 4 meaning a “Blended approach with both on-line and in-situ small group delivery of a minimum of 1 hr per week per student”
In a statement Keele University said “We have prepared extensively for positive cases of Covid-19 in the Keele community, and are following a detailed outbreak management plan, led by a dedicated Covid Response Team”
“We understand that this will be a challenging time for students, and will provide them with detailed information and support throughout their self-isolation period.”