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Covid: Coventry to move to tier 2 from Saturday

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image captionWest Midlands Mayor Andy Street said the restrictions presented a particular problem for the hospitality sector

Coventry is to move to tier two Covid restrictions, the city council has said.

The change is a response to a continuing rise in the number of cases of the virus in households and communities across the city.

Council Leader George Duggins said the city had to work to get back to tier one as soon as possible.

It means from Saturday there will be new restrictions on households mixing in homes and hospitality venues.

The infection rate per 100,00 people in the city rose from 165.3 in the week to 11 October to 179.3 in the week to 18 October.

The change to "high risk" status will mean additional measures, preventing households from mixing with one another indoors, including in pubs and cafes.

However, there are exemptions for circumstances like childcare and for support bubbles.

Multiple households can also gather outdoors and in private gardens - up to a maximum of six people.

Michelle Gilmore, the owner of the Old Windmill pub in Spon End, said the move to tier two was "awful news", and that the business had been struggling since the 22:00 curfew was introduced.

Move 'inevitable'

She said businesses in tier two zones were in many ways worse off than those in tier three, because of the support available.

Mr Duggins said the latest move was "disappointing", but added the "consistent increase in positive cases over the last few weeks made that inevitable".

The Labour councillor also asked the government to "mend the broken test, track and trace system".

Last week, he warned tier two restrictions could lead to job losses and wrote to Chancellor Rishi Sunak to ask for more financial support for the region's industry.

Analysis by Elizabeth Glinka, BBC Politics Midlands

There's an unfortunate irony to Coventry announcing it's to enter tier two restrictions on the same day it announced its programme for next year's City of Culture.

There was however a certain inevitability to today's news. While neighbours in Birmingham and four other West Midlands authorities were already under tighter restrictions, Coventry with its large student populations had escaped.

A belief that the disease was largely contained to these students may have influenced the decision. But as the council admitted today rates have been increasing steadily in recent weeks and as the age profile of those becoming infected has risen they were left with little choice, but to enter tier two.

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: "It is clear the city now needs to move to stricter restrictions in order to help contain the spread of the virus."

He said tier two restrictions presented "a serious challenge to the hospitality sector" and that he would press the government for extra financial support.

Much of the West Midlands conurbation is already in a tier two zone, including Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Sandwell and Solihull.

image copyrightGoogle
image captionThe owner of the Old Windmill, Michelle Gilmore, said the business had been struggling since the curfew was introduced

Charlotte Porter, the manager at the Golden Cross pub, said she thought the move would "be a nightmare".

The inn, which dates back to the 17th Century, currently has nine tables, down from 13 pre-Covid.

Ms Porter said it had been due to open the upstairs to customers from Saturday for the first time since before lockdown, and that some weeks had been "really quiet".

"I'm hoping we'll be able to take enough money to cover all of our costs, but we don't know. Often when restrictions change, people stop coming often because they feel less comfortable," she added.

image copyrightGoogle
image captionThe manager at the Golden Cross said the new restrictions would be a "nightmare"

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