Local officials and business leaders react to new restrictions to combat the spread of coronavirus in Coventry.
On Wednesday, it was revealed that from midnight on Friday, 23 October, Coventry’s COVID alert level would be heightened to Tier 2 – high alert.
The unfortunate, albeit expected, imposition of new restrictions comes as cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in Coventry, with the rate of infection per 100,000 residents standing at 181 at the time of publication.
The rate remains lower than neighbouring Birmingham and Solihull, and below the regional average for the West Midlands.
The number of deaths in Coventry also remains low at four deaths across the previous seven days.
Local officials and business leaders have reacted to the news with a seemingly uniform call for immediate economic support for workers and businesses.
The Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, expressed his “disappointment” at the news, but said with cases rising over the last few weeks “it is clear the city needs to move to stricter restrictions.”
The Conservative Mayor continued: “However, as I’ve said before, Tier 2 restrictions do present a serious economic challenge. Currently, there’s no extra financial support available for our hospitality sector in Tier 2 which cannot possibly be right.
“I will continue to press Government on this and I’m confident we will get a breakthrough soon.”
Zarah Sultana MP commented on the news by reaffirming that it is “vital that we do everything possible to protect lives and livelihoods. That means driving down cases and providing additional economic support to workers and businesses affected.”
The Labour MP for Coventry South also expressed her disappointment at the Government for voting down a motion in the House of Commons on Wednesday that proposed “fair financial support for jobs and businesses”, adding that she will “continue to fight for extra economic support for everyone affected by the pandemic.”
Sultana went on to “thank the key workers, volunteers and carers in our city, who are getting us through this crisis” and urged any of her constituents in need of support to email her “without hesitation.”
Coventry’s Chamber of Commerce has called for clear guidance, immediate support and a long-term plan from national Government.
Louise Bennett, chief executive of the Chamber of Commerce, said: “We have been clear since the start of the pandemic that health has to come first and businesses will be ready to comply with measures that help to reduce the spread of the virus.
“Moving to Tier 2 does make life harder for businesses in the leisure and hospitality sector, which have already suffered immeasurably since the crisis hit in March.
“It’s vital, therefore, that there is clear communication from the outset and that any support is increased and is targeted at those firms that need it most in a bid to save jobs and preserve good businesses.
“What we really need to see now is a longer-term plan around restrictions and the support that comes with it.”