The Coronavirus represents the most serious public health crisis any of us have faced. We will get through this with the solidarity, courage, initiative and resilience that epitomises our coalfield communities here in Barnsley and South Yorkshire.
From Wednesday 2 December, the national lockdown restrictions will expire and English local authority areas will return to a tiered system.
Barnsley and South Yorkshire will be in Tier 3. This means:
- 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 ticketed venues.
- You must not follow the ‘Rule of 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.
- Hospitality settings, such as bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants are closed – they are permitted to continue sales by takeaway, click-and-collect, drive-through or delivery services.
- Leisure and sports facilities may continue to stay open, but group exercise classes (including fitness and dance) should not go ahead.
- 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, however higher-risk contact activity 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.
Full guidance on what you can and can’t do can be found here.
As we exit the national lockdown, the Government has once again put South Yorkshire into the highest level of coronavirus restrictions, Tier 3. We now need them to work with us to make sure we do not stay there a moment longer than necessary, to ensure our businesses and people get the help they need to get through the pandemic and to fix the failing Test-and-Trace system.
I’ve successfully pushed the Government to review our tier arrangements every two weeks and will continue to press for a crystal clear exit strategy to get us out of Tier 3 as quickly as possible – because every extra day we are under restrictions could be the difference between a business surviving the pandemic or going under. Lockdown must not become limbo.
There is light at the end of the tunnel. In South Yorkshire the rate of new infections, and more importantly the number of older people in hospital with the virus, is moving in the right direction. Although we’ve seen real and welcome progress over the last few weeks, there is absolutely no room for complacency. We must all continue to follow the guidelines and do our bit to save lives and ease the pressures on our NHS.
We’ve been under tighter restrictions in South Yorkshire since October 24, and they are slowly suffocating businesses, particularly in the hospitality and events sectors. They are now being hit again just as they enter their busiest time of year. Any restrictions must come hand in hand with a robust package of economic support to protect livelihoods. There must be no gaps in support for people and businesses affected by the pandemic. In October, we successfully called on the Government to provide a local lockdown lifeline for communities and businesses, to ensure that we have the resources we need to control the virus and limit some of the damage on jobs and businesses. I am working with our local authorities to get this financial support to businesses and traders who have been directly affected by restrictions, and wider supply chains experiencing a drop in demand and I will continue to press the Government to provide additional financial support. I would urge businesses struggling to weather to storm of Coronavirus to contact their local council’s business support unit or the SCR Growth Hub.
I know how difficult things have been for the people of South Yorkshire throughout the pandemic, and I am incredibly grateful for their resilience in the face of adversity. I will continue to fight for our people and our businesses to ensure our lives and livelihoods are not restricted by these measures for a moment longer than is absolutely necessary.
The Prime Minister also set out plans to ease restrictions over Christmas to enable family and friends to see one another by forming temporary ‘Christmas Bubbles’ – full details of which can be found here. I know how challenging this year has been for many, and people understandably want to spend Christmas with their family and friends. I would urge people to follow the rules on forming Christmas bubbles and to be mindful of the risks that increased social contact poses over the Christmas break.
We can all do our bit to support this national effort by following the latest guidance from the NHS and Public Health England in order to contain this disease, which can be found here. That means abiding by local restrictions; reducing unnecessary social contact; working from home where you can; using face coverings where required; and washing hands on a regular basis.
My message to people in South Yorkshire is clear: by continuing to follow the guidance and taking sensible precautions to keep each other safe we will overcome this virus.
I would like to pay tribute to the more than 50,000 people across the country – including the hundreds here in South Yorkshire – who have lost their lives to this horrible disease and extend my deepest sympathies to their families, friends and loved ones. Every death represents a family in mourning and a community devastated.
I’d also like to offer my heartfelt gratitude to those front-line workers – the doctors, nurses, primary care staff, social care workers and support staff; the retail, transport and postal workers; the staff in our Local Authorities delivering vital services, to name just a few – who are working flat out to protect our most vulnerable and keep our communities going. Thank you.
Every home in Britain has been touched by the Coronavirus. Whether through losing a relative, serving as a key worker, or enduring profound disruption to everyday life. We will overcome this virus, together, by maintaining our collective resolve, continuing to follow the advice and taking every measure to contain this disease. Lives depend upon it.
I know our people and our communities here in South Yorkshire will look out for each other and that together we will come through this.
Updated 1 December 2020