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Covid-19: Stoke-on-Trent and Coventry move into tier 2

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image copyrightReuters
image captionThe new restrictions started just after midnight on Saturday

Stoke-on-Trent and Coventry have moved into the tier two category to tackle rising coronavirus cases.

Restrictions came into force at 00:01 BST on Saturday. Slough has also moved into the tier two "high" category.

The restrictions in tier two mean households can no longer mix indoors, including in pubs and restaurants.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced Stoke-on-Trent would move up a tier on Thursday, while Coventry announced the same move earlier in the week.

However, there are exemptions for childcare and support bubbles.

Michelle Swift runs Swifty's, a micro pub in Meir, Stoke-on-Trent, which she has to temporarily close due to the new restrictions.

"When we first opened we were limited to the rule of six, we could work with that," she said.

"It wasn't the same as what it used to be but it was manageable."

Now she can only have seven tables, which, if customers come alone, could mean just seven customers.

"It just doesn't make sense. We're near the border with Staffordshire County Council so you can go a mile up the road and you can sit with your friends in another pub," she said.

Ms Swift also said the guidance on enforcing the restrictions was "not that clear" and therefore left "open to interpretation".

"You're literally the fun police and you're on edge all the time because your licence is at risk," she said.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council leader Abi Brown said taking the approach now would limit the damage to the local economy ahead of any potential move to the "very high" category.

"I'm not willing to put the lives of Stoke-on-Trent residents at risk by dithering for a week when we can act now to save lives and minimise economic damage," she said.

The council applied to the government to be put into the higher measures as it said the city had seen a sharp increase in cases over the last few days.

Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones, director of adult social care and health, said this would continue to accelerate unless urgent action was taken.

The council leader in Coventry, George Duggins, said the city had to work to get back to tier one as soon as possible.

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