By Tony Earnshaw LDRS
Political leaders in Kirklees say keeping the borough within Tier 3 restrictions could be the way to ensure that infection rates continue to fall.
Over the last two months the district has seen an improvement with cases of Covid-19 plummeting.
In recent weeks Kirklees was ranked 28th in the country, a massive drop after being fourth or fifth at the height of cases prior to the most recent national lockdown.
The Local Democracy Reporting Service understands Kirklees is now ranked 78th in the country.
In announcing that Kirklees – along with the rest of West Yorkshire – would stay in Tier 3 Health Secretary Matt Hancock said controlling infection rates was about “limiting patient harm”.
Local leaders gave their reactions to the news.
Leader of the Green group on Kirklees Council, Clr Andrew Cooper, said: “Much as I would have loved to go and support our local restaurants, pubs and coffee shops I think the right decision has been made.
“We have already seen that infection rates have stopped falling as the effect of essential shops opening has kicked in. The Christmas relaxation in rules is inevitably going to mean more infections and sadly more deaths.
“Government needs to provide enough support to allow us to all get vaccinated and start the journey to economic recovery.”
Clr John Taylor, deputy leader of the Conservative group, said: “Whilst disappointed that we remain in Tier 3 the data does show that whilst infection rates are still falling, there appears to be a slowdown in the reduction since the end of lockdown and the reopening of retail.
“With mass testing coming to Kirklees from today and the vaccination programme now up and running it is hoped that these will help continue the reduction in infections and hospitalisations and we will soon be able to benefit from a reduction in restrictions.
“It is vitally important that we all continue to play our part, socially distancing, wearing masks and mixing only within our households. This Christmas will undoubtedly be subdued but we can look forward to a brighter future in 2021.”
Clr Charles Greaves, who leads the Holme Valley Independents, said the news was “disappointing but not unexpected” and that he accepted the government’s cautious approach over the festive period.
He added: “We will expect to be moved into Tier 2 early in the New Year if we maintain the great progress in reducing rates locally.
“All our efforts are going into expanding local testing, improving track and trace and the roll-out of the vaccination programme, as well as helping to drive a strong and quick recovery in the New Year.”
Clr John Lawson, who leads the Lib Dems, said: “While it’s no surprise we remain in Tier 3 the numbers still look good.
“Understandably the hospitality businesses will be disappointed. If we can come out of Tier 3 in the New Year and stay out, it will give them the opportunity to plan for the longer term rather than fire-fighting every fortnight.
“We need to keep on top of those new cases and protect those around us by washing our hands and observing guidelines.
“As the vaccines roll out and the new testing beds in we should see things continue to improve. The last nine months has been tough and everyone has had to dig deep.
“It looks like a few more weeks is asked of us.”