Coronavirus: 'Tier one ends at my garden wall'

By David Pittam
BBC News, Nottingham

Image caption,
Kath Sharpe says the division is "crackers"

People across the country have opposing views about the government's new coronavirus tier system.

But in the case of Langwith, on the Nottinghamshire/Derbyshire border, the division is somewhat more literal.

The county boundary runs down the middle of Portland Road, meaning houses on one side have "tier one" restrictions, while the other side is "tier two".

It's caused some amusement among residents, but also much frustration due to the difficulty of living in a community with two sets of rules.

Image caption,
The division between the two tiers runs right down the middle of Portland Road

People on the Derbyshire side of the street, currently in tier one, can meet socially in groups of six indoors, while those on the other side are subject to more stringent restrictions - due to the fact Nottinghamshire became tier two this week.

Kath Sharpe, a 72-year-old parish councillor who lives in the village, said people had been joking about building a wall down the middle of the road.

"It's crackers," she said. "As far as I'm aware, we've not had any cases of Covid in the village.

"People here have been very good at following the rules but I don't think they're going to stick to this - plus, who's going to come and enforce it?

"It should have been looked at as a whole community, not some of it lumped in with what's happening miles away."

Image caption,
Dave Mather says tier one ends at his garden wall

Dave Mather, 69, a retired miner who lives on the Derbyshire side of Portland Road, said: "It's absolutely crazy - Derbyshire and tier one ends at my garden wall.

"They should have realised you can't divide a village up."

A tale of two tiers

  • Areas in tier one are subject to the basic national rules previously in force
  • You may not meet in a group of more than six people, indoors or outdoors, unless you're in a larger household or a support bubble
  • Pubs, bars and restaurants in a tier one area must close by 22:00
  • In tier two, you are not allowed to meet socially with people you do not live with indoors
  • People in support bubbles can go on meeting as before
  • You can still meet friends and family outdoors, but only in a group of up to six people
Image caption,
Dawn Wakeling doubts people in the village will follow the different restrictions

Dawn Wakeling, 49, lives on the tier one side of the road but her mother, whom she helps look after, lives across the street.

She said they will remain unaffected, as they are in a bubble, but added: "People aren't going to follow it.

"I wouldn't be going to Nottingham but I won't be avoiding parts of the village. It has to be done on a village-by-village basis."

Beverley Booker, 54, lives on the tier two side.

"When the border is just a walk to the other side of the street, it's a bit daft, isn't it?" she said.

Kath McCormack, 66, who lives on the Nottinghamshire side, said: "I know we're technically in Nottinghamshire, but Derbyshire is just a road away.

"It doesn't make sense to split a village in two."

Image caption,
Kath McCormack says the division "doesn't make sense"

It's not just people on the street that are feeling divided - the split has affected the whole village.

Janice Mitchell, 64, said she will not be able to see her seven-year-old granddaughter because she lives in tier two.

"It's difficult to understand," she said. "I know they have to have borders but why not go to the end of the road, rather than cut through the middle?

"I'll follow the rules but now I can't have my granddaughter to stay."

The village's pubs also fall into different tiers.

Bev Plumb, landlady of the Jug and Glass Inn, which is in tier two, said she had already had customers contacting her to cancel bookings.

She said the fact people can meet in pubs just a short walk down the road is an issue, and questioned how she would be able to enforce the ban on households mixing.

"People are trying to do the right thing, trying not to break the law, but it does affect our business," she said.

"There shouldn't be a blanket approach for the whole of Nottinghamshire."

Image caption,
The village pub that falls into tier two has had cancellations

Derbyshire Labour councillor Joan Dixon drew attention to the anomaly on social media.

She said: "There is some local amusement but there is also the sense that the rules are becoming very complicated and people are weary now.

"There are a lot of close-knit families in that community who will be affected."

Both Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire county councils urged residents to stick to the restrictions.

A Nottinghamshire spokesperson said: "If they are in Nottinghamshire, it will be a legal requirement not to mix with other people indoors unless they live with them, have a support bubble with them or fall under one of the other exceptions."

A Derbyshire spokesperson said: "These are government restrictions and we would urge people to follow all the latest guidelines."

It added it was the government that decided which tier areas were placed in.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said decisions were made in "close consultation" with local leaders.

"We... constantly review the evidence and will take swift action where necessary," she said.

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