'Hugely disappointed': Reaction to Tier 2 Covid restrictions for Norfolk

North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker said he was getting emails daily from constituents about a lack of tests. Picture: Supplied...

North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker said he was getting emails daily from constituents about a lack of tests. Picture: Supplied by Duncan Baker - Credit: Archant

A Norfolk MP has said he is "hugely disappointed" by his government's decision to put the county into Tier 2 of coronavirus restrictions when national lockdown ends.

North Norfolk Conservative MP Duncan Baker was among those who had called for the county to be placed in Tier 1 - the lowest level of restrictions.

But Norfolk, like everywhere else in the East of England, was placed in Tier 2.

While shops will reopen, households will not be able to mix indoors and pubs will only be able to open if operating as restaurants, with alcohol only served as part of a "substantial meal".

Mr Baker said: "I am hugely disappointed with the Tier 2 decision - foremost because North Norfolk continues to see some of the lowest rates of infection in the whole country.

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"It was to be expected that, as a constituency, North Norfolk would be part of a larger region and I am glad that, thanks to a number of pleas, we do at least have a Norfolk region and have not been absorbed into a wider East of England area.

"Clearly the government has taken a very cautious approach."

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He said the case rate in over 60s and the percentage of people in Norfolk taking tests and being positive had gone against the county.

He said he would be meeting ministers and making the case that Norfolk as a whole was seeing decreasing rates.

He said it was important the county could exit Tier 2 and return to Tier 1 as soon as possible if rates kept falling - at the first review on December 16.

And he said businesses affected by the decision must be given the necessary support to survive.

George Freeman, Conservative MP for Mid Norfolk tweeted that the caution from the government to try to avoid a Christmas surge was "understandable".

He said: "The key thing in the next three weeks to December 16 is to show that, here in Norfolk, our local councils can control the virus and minimise economic harm, so we can get in Tier 1 for Christmas."

Steve Morphew, leader of the opposition Labour group at Norfolk County Council, said complaining about the tier allocation would do no good and the focus should instead be trying to get into Tier 1 when the December 16 review was carried out.

He said: "Let’s pull together to get out of these restrictions in time for Christmas.

"The next review is December 16 and if Norfolk puts all our energy into beating the virus rather than complaining about or finding ways round the restrictions we can do this.

"We know the virus exploits every gap, and we know the rates can go up rapidly.

"We know there is no magic bullet and we know we all have a part to play.

"We all know how hard it is and none of us want to be here a moment longer than we have to be.

"We also know we can drive the numbers down if we pull together.

"I’m highly critical of the political leadership of this pandemic but that’s for another day.

"Right now, let’s get Norfolk out of this – in two weeks we can achieve a big drop with a big collective community Norfolk effort. Let’s do it!"

Alan Waters, leader of Norwich City Council, said: "It is disappointing not to be in Tier 1 but only three areas fall into this category.

"In Norwich, we will continue to work hard with our partners to keep the number of cases in the city as low as possible.

"It's also worth remembering that the number of cases in the city and across Norfolk are currently well below the national average."

Waveney MP Peter Aldous called for a "roadmap" out of the tougher restrictions and urged more support for those businesses who have been "very hard hit" ahead of the festive season.

Mr Aldous questioned health secretary Matt Hancock in the House of Commons on Thursday morning, shortly after the announcement of the tiers, with the West Suffolk MP saying the decision on the county's tier was made "with a heavy heart."

Mr Aldous said: "Up until yesterday I was expecting us to go into tier two, but the latest figures from the NHS services locally were encouraging.

"However, when I got to the chamber, it was very clear the government were going to take a very cautious approach and I can understand that.

"We need to have a roadmap to get back into tier one as quickly as possible and we know there will be reviews in two weeks and every week after."

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