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A statement from Cllr Sharon Taylor, leader Stevenage Borough Council

“The Government has announced that, as of 00:01 on Saturday 19 December 2020, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and a number of other districts will be placed into Tier 3 of the Coronavirus restrictions.

“There has been a significant rise in Covid-19 cases within Hertfordshire as a whole over the past few weeks and the Government has opted to move Hertfordshire to the highest level.

A detailed list of what the restrictions mean is outlined below and will be posted on the SBC website. We recognise the very significant efforts of Stevenage residents in keeping the numbers in our borough relatively low, however, the exponential rise in cases across large parts of the rest of the county and the risk of infection spreading from London and other parts of Hertfordshire has left health authorities with no other option.

“As of yesterday Stevenage had recorded an incidence case rate of 145.9 cases per 100,000, representing a decrease on the previous figures. In Hertfordshire as a whole the number stands at 209 cases per 100,000, with certain areas acting as significant outliers.

The rapid rise in infection rates in 12-16 year old age groups is very concerning and common across much of London, Essex, and the South East. While infection in younger children below 12 presents a lower risk, teenagers are capable of spreading the virus, and there is already evidence of transmission to from teenagers to older age groups

“The number of people attending hospital with the virus is also heading the wrong way across England and certainly within Hertfordshire and neighbouring areas. Our local Acute Health Trusts remain under considerable pressure and have activated their business continuity plans. Like all employers they are also coping with numbers of their staff either absent with the virus or having to self-isolate.

“Unquestionably, we continue to face an extremely challenging situation. But as we do so, our team and partners in Stevenage are continuing to do their level best to support the community and local businesses through the worst of the pandemic.

“We completely understand that residents and businesses will be extremely concerned about this latest development and we will do our best to get any further information we have, particularly about what support is available, out on our website as quickly as possible.

It is certainly good news that people are now being vaccinated against the virus, however, we must not let our guard down, particularly in light of today’s announcement.

“We should also remember to do the basic things we can all do to stop the virus spreading:

  • wear face coverings
  • avoid crowded places
  • clean your hands and clean hard surfaces
  • keep a two metre distance from people from other households;
  • and remember to self-isolate, and get tested, if you have symptoms.

“If anyone is unsure about the restrictions that apply for Stevenage then I would encourage them to visit the Council’s website where you can find all the latest guidance.

The Tier 3 restrictions mean that, as of 00:01 Saturday morning:

- You must not meet socially indoors or in most outdoor places with anybody you do not live with, or who is not in your support bubble, this includes in any private garden or at most outdoor venues

- You must not socialise in a group of more than six in some other outdoor public spaces, including parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, a public garden, grounds of a heritage site or castle, or a sports facility – this has been called the ‘rule of six’.

- Hospitality settings, such as bars (including shisha venues), pubs, cafes and restaurants are closed – they are permitted to continue sales by takeaway, click-and-collect, drive-through or delivery services.

- Accommodation such as hotels, B&Bs, campsites, and guest houses must close. There are several exemptions, such as for those who use these venues as their main residence, and those requiring the venues where it is reasonably necessary for work or education and training

- Indoor entertainment and tourist venues must close. This includes:

  • indoor play centres and areas, including trampoline parks and soft play facilities
  • casinos
  • bingo halls
  • bowling alleys
  • skating rinks
  • amusement arcades and adult gaming centres
  • laser quests and escape rooms
  • cinemas, theatres and concert halls
  • snooker halls

- Indoor attractions at mostly outdoor entertainment venues must also close (indoor shops, through-ways and public toilets at such attractions can remain open).

This includes indoor attractions within:

  • zoos, safari parks, and wildlife reserves
  • aquariums, visitor attractions at farms, and other animal attractions
  • museums, galleries and sculpture parks
  • theme parks, circuses, fairgrounds and funfairs
  • visitor attractions at film studios, heritage sites such as castles and stately homes
  • landmarks including observation decks and viewing platforms

- Leisure and sports facilities may continue to stay open, but group exercise classes (including fitness and dance) should not go ahead.

- Public attendance at spectator sport or indoor performances and large business events should not be taking place. Elite sport events may continue to take place without spectators

- Large outdoor events (performances and shows) should not take place, with the exception of drive-in events

- Places of worship remain open, but you must not attend with or socialise with anyone outside of your household or support bubble while you are there, unless a legal exemption applies

- Weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of attendees – 15 people can attend wedding ceremonies, wedding receptions are not allowed, 30 people can attend funeral ceremonies, 15 people can attend linked commemorative events

- Organised outdoor sport, and physical activity and exercise classes can continue. higher-risk contact activity, however, should not take place

- Organised indoor sport, physical activity and exercise classes cannot take place indoors. There are exceptions for indoor disability sport, sport for educational purposes and supervised sport and physical activity for under-18s

- You can continue to travel to venues or amenities which are open, but should aim to reduce the number of journeys you make where possible

- Avoid travelling outside of your area, including for overnight stays other than where necessary, such as for work, education, youth services, to receive medical treatment, or because of caring responsibilities. You can travel through other areas as part of a longer journey

- For international travel see the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office travel advice for your destination and the travel corridors list

These regulations are in addition to the previous restrictions in place in Tier 2

We encourage people to continue to follow the restrictions and be particularly cautious over the upcoming festive period. Follow the government guidance; wash your hands regularly, wear a mask and maintain space from others.

Finally I would like to say that we continue to remember those tragically affected by this virus, the families in Stevenage who have lost loved ones, those with families and friends in hospital and in care homes, and those who may face uncertainty in their employment, their home, or their ability to put food on the table.

Further information about the restrictions is available on the Gov.uk website

For press enquiries contact Corporate Communications on 01438 242 168.

© 2021 Stevenage Borough Council