Why Norfolk and Suffolk are in Tier 2: Government explains decision
- Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown
A "mixed picture" across Norfolk and "concerning" rate increases in Suffolk have been given as reasons by the government for the counties remaining in Tier 2 of coronavirus restrictions.
Health secretary Matthew Hancock announced the results of the reviews of coronavirus restrictions across the country on Thursday, with both counties staying in the high alert level of restrictions.
However, other parts of the East of England, including Bedfordshire and Peterborough have been put into Tier 3. It was announced earlier this week that parts of Essex would be put into that more restrictive tier.
And the government has published its justification for Norfolk and Suffolk's tier placement.
For Norfolk, they said there was a "mixed picture", with overall case rates over seven days having gone up in Great Yarmouth, King's Lynn and West Norfolk and Breckland.
However, they said cases were "stable" in Norwich, Broadland, South Norfolk and North Norfolk.
In a more encouraging development, they said the percentage of people testing positive - which is one of the factors the government considers when deciding on tier allocations - was decreasing across the majority of Norfolk.
But they said: "In the most recent few days, the case rates have started to increase."
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They said: "Overall, the epidemiology indicators in Norfolk remain too high for Tier 1, but do not currently justify inclusion at Tier 3."
They said the number of hospital admissions continued to rise, as did the number of beds occupied by patients with Covid-19, although that remained below the national average.
Duncan Baker, Conservative MP for North Norfolk, said keeping the county in Tier 2 was "the sensible decision for now".
He said Herefordshire, which had moved from Tier 2 to Tier 1, had 45 cases per 100,000 people, but Norfolk, while still below the national average, has risen to more than 120 cases per 100,000.
He said: "I would always like us to move down, but we just aren't there yet."
James Wild, Conservative MP for North West Norfolk, said the increase in rates in West Norfolk was "frustrating for many and hospitality businesses particularly".
The government said the situation in Suffolk had "deteriorated", with case rates and the percentage of positive tests "broadly increasing" across the area.
The government said the past week had seen the overall case rate go up by 20pc or more in West Suffolk, Mid Suffolk, East Suffolk and Ipswich, with Ipswich the "most concerning" area.
They said case rates in all age groups, including the over 60s were "very high and rapidly increasing".
But admissions to hospital remained stable, although there was a high proportion of patients with coronavirus in critical care beds or on ventilators.
However, the government concluded: "Whilst the rate of epidemiology indicators is concerning, the indicators do not, at present, justify escalation of all of Suffolk to Tier 3."