key update from John Bridge OBE DL

As I am sure you will be aware by now, yesterday the government announced the new tiered Coronavirus restrictions that will come into effect after the lockdown ends in England on 2nd December.
For the area covered by our Chamber the tiers were announced with the following reasoning:
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough
High (tier 2)
An improving picture with decreasing case rates across 5 of the 6 local authorities although the case rate is still high at 123/100,000 overall. Case rates in over 60s are also decreasing (58/100,000). Positivity has dropped to 5.2%.
Very high (tier 3)
There has been an overall improvement, but case rates remain high throughout the county, at 307 per 100,000 and in the over 60s it is 281 per 100,000. NHS pressures in Lincolnshire remain high and show signs of increasing, particularly for the units treating the more serious cases.

For full details of the local restriction tier system that will be in place from Wednesday 2nd December, see here

A reminder of the details of the restrictions under each tier can be found at the following links:

Tier 1 - Medium alert tier  
Tier 2- High alert tier  
Tier 3 - Very High alert tier  

There were some very critical responses to the government’s strategy and following the announcement leading restaurateur Richard Caring, who owns The Ivy in Cambridge, said: “These so-called politicians are advised purely by scientists and not commercial reality. They are destroying people faster than this virus.”

Oxford University's Carl Heneghan, a professor in evidence-based medicine and epidemiologist, said: “Without 'clear, objective criteria', people are often left confused about why they are being punished and what behaviour they need to adjust to move out of the tougher lockdown brackets.”

He warned the tiers may already be outdated and 'unjustified' when the national shutdown lapses next week because Covid infections are plummeting across the country.

He said: “If the trend continues, it will be hard to justify tougher tiered restrictions' when the lockdown ends on Wednesday.” The expert also urged ministers to lay out exactly what needs to change for high-risk areas to be downgraded. 

At present, the Government is not doing that and it will wait at least two weeks before reassessing the different tiers.

It is clear from our perspective that the ongoing restrictions will continue to have a devastating impact on businesses across all our area, particularly in Stamford.

To weather a difficult winter ahead, greater support will be needed for the hardest-hit firms, including those in town and city centres that will miss out on trade as employees continue to work from home.

As a Chamber we have been clear that businesses need to see and understand the evidence behind these decisions. While the Government has today added some clarity about the rationale for which restrictions apply where, they must waste no time in producing a full impact assessment and engage with businesses on how to mitigate the ongoing economic effect.

A review of tiers on 16 December will provide hope for a way out of the strongest restrictions, but the process by which areas can move into new tiers should be transparent and include clear triggers and enough time to allow businesses to plan accordingly.

There is no substitute for a fully functioning economy. Broad-based mass testing still holds the key to getting employees back into offices, suppliers and customers into shops and international travel and trade back up and running. As Chambers we continue to urge the government to redouble their efforts to improve its Test, Trace and Isolate system which is key to overcoming the current challenges.

We would welcome your views so please do contact me and let me know your thoughts.

Contact the Chamber

01223 237414 •
Cambridgeshire Chamber of Commerce
Clifford House • 2 Station Yard • Oakington • CB24 3AH • United Kingdom