Council Leader on Tier 3 Restrictions

Reacting to today’s news that Reading has been placed in Tier 3 restrictions by Government as part of the COVID-19 pandemic response, Councillor Jason Brock, Reading Borough Council Leader, said:

“The Government’s decision to place Reading into Tier 3 restrictions from 00:01 on Saturday 19th December will inevitably cause further hardship and anxiety in what has already been a very difficult year for residents and businesses in Reading. The combination of a rise in the infection rate across London and other parts of the South East means it is not necessarily unexpected, although as a Council we had no prior warning of today’s announcement.

We know our local increasing infection rates across all age groups is due to household transmissions. Our rate of infection over the last 7 days is 221.9 per 100,000 people which is the highest it has been during this second wave of COVID-19. The size of the pandemic in Reading is increasing by between 33% and 50% every week and now of everyone who goes for a test, 6.1% get a positive result, whereas in August this was just 1%.

It is now more important than ever we all stick to the guidelines in what is a critical time in the run up to possibly visiting elderly or vulnerable family when restrictions are currently planned to be temporarily lifted for five days over the Christmas period.

While we were already not permitted to mix households indoors under the existing Tier 2 restrictions, from Saturday we move to Tier 3 which means we cannot mix indoors, in private gardens or in most outdoor venues, except with your own household or bubble. However you can meet in a group of up to six from other households in public outdoor spaces, such as parks. People are being asked not to travel from a Tier 3 area into a Tier 2 unless it is an essential journey such as going to work when you can’t do your job for home.

Under the Government’s new rules, bars, restaurants and café’s must stay closed, except for delivery or takeaway. For a town like Reading – where the hospitality industry plays such a vital role – we know this will have a huge impact. That is particularly the case in the run up to what is usually the busiest time of year for many. For local businesses, an already difficult year has just become even more challenging. The Government continue to provide funding to support those businesses mandated to close and those severely impacted by the restrictions, full details of schemes available and timescales for payment will be published at https://www.reading.gov.uk/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-business-information/covid-19-support-for-business/financial-support-for-businesses-and-charities/

For Reading fans who have been lucky enough to catch a glimpse live of the team’s relentless march to the Premier League, unfortunately the Tier 3 restrictions bring an end to that, for the time being at least, with no fans allowed at the Madejski.

From Wednesday December 23rd, the Government is intending to ease restrictions but is still warning us all to take extra care, particularly when seeing elderly or vulnerable friends or family as you can spread coronavirus to others even if you and the people you meet have no symptoms. You don’t have to mix with others just because you can, and if you do, limit the risks by meeting outside, socially distance as much as is possible and keep washing your hands. Keep a window open and avoid overnight stays outside of your home. The more people you see, the more likely it is that you will catch or spread coronavirus. I know this is not an easy ask.

It is important to say that on Monday 28th December we return to Tier 3 restrictions, which of course includes New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

We know our town has responded magnificently to previous lockdowns and restrictions and I have no doubt that the town will come together to do the right thing for Reading again. The simple measures of washing your hands regularly, wearing a mask and keeping your distance from others remain as important than ever. If you develop COVID symptoms; a high temperature, new continuous cough or loss or change to your sense of smell or taste, please get a test and stay at home. We have a walk-through test centre at Reading University and a Mobile Testing Unit at Prospect Park. Booking is essential via the government website at www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test

The move into Tier 3 has come at a time when we would ordinarily be excited at the prospect of Christmas and seeing friends and family. The vaccine is already being rolled out now to residents in care homes, those aged over 80 and our health and care staff. I sincerely hope that 2021 will bring better news for us all with the wider roll out. In the meantime, I’d again like to thank residents and businesses for their tremendous efforts so far, and for their sacrifices in the days and weeks to come.”