Norfolk was 'very close' to being in Tier One, MP claims
- Credit: Danielle Booden
Norfolk was close to being put under the lowest restrictions against coronavirus after the lockdown is lifted, according to an MP.
Jerome Mayhew, who represents Broadland, said he was hugely disappointed that the county would be put into Tier 2, rather than Tier 1, from December 2.
The Conservative MP said: "I have spoken to the health minister this evening and learned that Norfolk was very close to being assessed as suitable for Tier 1 restrictions. With the tiers being reassessed on December 16 the further we can drive down the infection rate, the greater the chance that we can move to Tier 1 before Christmas.
"We want to be in the lowest tier possible to maximise our freedoms and support as many businesses as possible while keeping infection rates low enough to enable our local hospitals to cope.
"Unfortunately, the latest data shows that we still need to be in Tier 2 to achieve this. While the overall trend in Norfolk is a downward one, we are not quite there yet. While it is enormously tempting to open up the economy more widely, particularly drinking-focussed pubs, a worse outcome would be for us to create a go/stop economy."
Mr Mayhew said that cycle could force the country into a January lockdown.
"As a former businessman I know that this would be even more damaging to our businesses, incurring operating costs and then being told to close," he added.
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Tier 2 of coronavirus restrictions mean Norfolk is rated as being on high alert with a "higher or rapidly rising level of infections".
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".
on November 26, prime minister Boris Johnson said: "If we ease off we risk losing control of this virus again forcing us into a new year national lockdown. Most of England is in the top two tiers and tough measures. I know these bring heartache for our vital hospitality sector. I wish it were otherwise but if we are going to keep schools open, as we must, our options of bearing down on the disease are limited.