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.
Following extensive discussions with Ministers, local council leaders and I have agreed with Government that South Yorkshire will move into Tier 3, the ‘Very High’ alert level for Coronavirus restrictions. The restrictions will come into force from 00:01 on Saturday 24 October and cover all four local authority areas – Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield.
This is the responsible route to ensure we save lives and livelihoods, and protect our NHS. More older people are contracting the virus. 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. Inaction was not an option.
The restrictions mean:
- People must not socialise with anybody they do not live with, or have formed a support bubble with, in any indoor setting or in any private garden or at most outdoor hospitality venues and ticketed events
- People must not socialise in a group of more than 6 in an outdoor public space such as a park or beach, the countryside, a public garden or a sports venue
- All pubs and bars must close, unless they are serving substantial meals
- People should try to avoid travelling outside the Very High alert level or entering a Very High alert level area, other than for work, education or for caring responsibilities or to travel through as part of a longer journey
- Residents should avoid staying overnight in another part of the UK, and others should avoid staying overnight in the Very High alert area
In addition, the following restrictions will also apply in South Yorkshire:
- Betting shops, adult gaming centres, casinos and soft play centres.
- Gym classes will not be allowed and social distancing guidelines should be followed between people from different households (but gyms will remain open).
As your local MP and as the South Yorkshire Mayor I have been working flat out with our local councils, our Directors of Public Health, the NHS, Public Health England, Government Ministers and Number 10 to ensure that Barnsley and South Yorkshire have the resources and tools at our disposal to respond to this crisis.
We called on Government to offer a local lockdown lifeline for our local authorities and economy, and the new restrictions will be introduced alongside resources which mean we are better equipped to control the virus and limit some of the damage on jobs and businesses. The total funding available to South Yorkshire agreed with Government for the new restrictions is £41m – including £30m to support the region’s businesses, and £11m for local authorities to support public health measures such as Test and Trace to stop the spread of the virus.
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 40,000 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, 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 21 October 2020