The Government is in the process of announcing new Covid-19 restrictions for Sheffield today. However Sheffield City Council have been left in the dark about exactly what to expect.
In a statement to residents released on the Council website, Sheffield’s Director of Public Health, Greg Fell, said: “We, like you, are still waiting to hear what the new restrictions will be and what this means for our residents, business and communities in Sheffield.”
Leader of the Council, Julie Dore, added: “We want to make it clear that we understand that no-one wants to see further restrictions placed on the way we live our lives in Sheffield, but we must put the safety of our city and those who live and work in it first.
“If this means more stringent measures to protect the public then we do it for as long as it takes to stop this dangerous virus from circulating further.”
She also emphasised that the Government need to be held accountable in terms of the support they provide for Sheffield’s residents.
She said: “We do expect the Government to follow through with the appropriate support packages that will be required to mitigate the financial and economic impact of these measures.”
The statement comes amid growing tension between the Government and local leaders in the North following a rejection of the Government’s financial package by mayors across the North of England, in hope that it will be replaced by more supportive measures.
Local government leaders from Sheffield, Manchester and Liverpool city have written to MPs of northern constituencies, asking for them to debate and have a separate vote on this financial package.
Currently, those who cannot work due to the local lockdown measures will be offered two thirds of their salary rather than the 80% offered under the original national furlough scheme.
Speaking to the Guardian, Dan Jarvis, Mayor of the Sheffield City Region, described the government response as a “top-down, overly centralised approach that has not been as effective as it could have been”.
In regards to implementing further restrictions, he said: “We are part of the solution and need to be involved at an early point in the government decision-making process.
The leaders also implied that the government had handled the lockdowns differently because the regions were located in the North.”
Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, told the Guardian: “All of a sudden when it involves the north, it’s not whatever it takes any more, it’s what we are prepared to spend. And it’s actually about treating parts of the country as second-class.
“We are not having that.”
Currently in Sheffield, six people from different households can mix indoors and outdoors, however this could change to only two households mixing or single households including their support bubble.
Should Sheffield follow in the footsteps of Manchester it is likely there will be further restrictions on households mixing.
This morning it has been announced that the new measures will be a set of ‘Local Covid Alert Levels’ in England with the local areas of the country placed into ‘medium’, ‘high’ and ‘very high’ alert levels.
The government said last night that they are still working with local leaders to decide which areas are covered by the very high alert level, and the appropriate interventions in those areas.
Large parts of Yorkshire are expected to fall into the ‘very high’ level due to the rising infection rates.
There is also speculation that if some areas of the North are placed into the ‘high’ or ‘very high’ alert level, they could see closure of pubs and bars this week, similar to the measures implemented in central Scotland.
For more information and updates on how the University is dealing with new restrictions and guidelines click here.
Images: Andy Burnham – Rwendland, Dan Jarvis – UK Parliament