Councillor warns residents to be ready for long-term restrictions

The leader of Elmbridge Borough Council has warned residents to “be prepared for long term restrictions”. Elmbridge, along with London and several other regions across the UK, was put into tier 2 on Saturday following a persistent rise in the number of cases of coronavirus. Although those measures are set to be reviewed in roughly 2 weeks’ time, Stuart Selleck said, speaking to Surrey Live, that residents should not necessarily expect for the restrictions to be lifted then.

“Bear in mind other parts of the country have had restrictions for two or three months. This is not a short-term decision one way or the other. We have to view it in terms of a much longer term.”

Councillor Stuart Selleck, Leader, Elmbridge Borough Council

Indeed, areas such as Leicestershire have been under tighter restrictions since the so-called lockdown began to be eased across the UK, and other regions have suggested that once you are in a position where you have to enter higher restrictions it can be very hard to bring infection levels down far enough to come out of them. Councillor Selleck did say that although the move up to Tier 2 did not come as a surprise, he was perhaps puzzled by why the infection rate seems to be so much higher in Elmbridge than other boroughs across Surrey as residents had, by and large, been obeying guidance set out from central government.

Mr Selleck also seemed to suggest that, should the need arise, he would not be against agreeing to take the borough up to the most severe restrictions of Tier 3, although he did acknowledge that he did know at what stage Tier 3 would “kick in” as the government hasn’t set specific threshold is moving up and down in tears instead same at such a decision will depend on local factors.

Local MP, and Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab praised residents resolve, but emphasised that these restrictions, while disappointing, were absolutely necessary.

Currently, Elmbridge remains the only borough in Surrey under restrictions under a higher level of restrictions and as of yesterday had 1,081 cases, an increase of 35 – the highest in the county. While all 11 Surrey boroughs saw an increase in the number of cases, Runnymede remained towards the bottom of that list with an increase of 15 bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the borough up to 638.

A spokesperson for Elmbridge Borough Council made the point that numbers were not the whole story:

“it’s direction of travel, NHS impact, contact-tracing intelligence, lots of other factors. It’s also not just contained within one certain area of Elmbridge”

Elmbridge Borough Council

Across the country, debate still rage over what level of restrictions individual regions should be in. Manchester, where the most vocal debate has happened over the last week or so, has been given a deadline by the government to come to an agreement by midday today or have restrictions imposed centrally. Meanwhile, Wales yesterday announced that it would be entering a so-called firebreak where there will be a “short sharp” tightening of lockdown restrictions in order to drive down the number of cases across the nation.