Coronavirus: South Yorkshire gets tougher restrictions as 1.4 million people head for Tier 3

Around 1.4 million people in South Yorkshire will face living under England’s toughest coronavirus restrictions, mayor Dan Jarvis has announced.

The move to Tier 3 will affect Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield, coming into force from 12.01 am on Saturday.

Mr Jarvis revealed local leaders secured £41m of funding from the government to “support our people and businesses” hit by the change that will particularly affect hospitality workers and taxi drivers.

He said that “while infection rates vary” across South Yorkshire, “collective action was the only practical choice to keep everyone in our region safe”.

And Mr Jarvis added that “the number of people with COVID in our hospitals has doubled over the last ten days, with no signs this will relent over the coming weeks” so “inaction was not an option”.

But he promised that if the new restrictions work, individual councils will be able to move to lower alert levels and have restrictions eased “as soon as it is safe to do so”.

Ros Jones, the mayor of Doncaster, said she understood the concerns of residents and companies, but cautioned: “There is an undeniable truth in that our infection rates are spiralling upwards.”

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said “swift action” needed to be taken as South Yorkshire’s coronavirus rates are “amongst the highest in the country”.

And he insisted the new measures “will only be in place for as long as they are absolutely necessary”, reviewed in four weeks’ time.

But South Yorkshire’s police and crime commissioner Dr Alan Billings said ministers had to communicate why the move was necessary.

He said: “The government need to understand that people will continue to observe the rules as long as they feel that what is being proposed is not just reactive, but part of a longer term strategy to defeat the virus.

“How the Tier 3 restrictions fit into that strategy needs careful, constant and consistent explanation.”

The change means residents are banned from mixing with other households indoors and most outdoor spaces, with pubs and bars force to close unless they can operate as restaurants and non-essential travel advised against.

West Yorkshire council leaders said they had not held talks with ministers but a decision has been made to maintain Tier 2 restrictions in the area.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is also expected to make a statement on South Yorkshire later today, according to Mr Jenrick.

The cabinet minister denied relationships with some local leaders were breaking down after negotiations collapsed with Greater Manchester politicians, saying talks with Mr Jarvis had been “very productive”.

But Lisa Nandy, MP for Wigan and Labour’s shadow foreign secretary, told Sky News: “It genuinely feels like this government is now not only failing to help us, but is actively working against us to inflict harm on its own citizens.”

Last week, Mr Johnson told three NHS Nightingale hospitals – set up during the first COVID-19 peak to stop the health service being overwhelmed – to prepare to start accepting patients again, including the one for Yorkshire and the Humber.

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