The Government has announced that Southend-on-Sea will be entering tier 3 restrictions at 00:01 on Wednesday 16 December.
Southend-on-Sea will join nine other districts in the Essex County Council area, Thurrock, the whole of London and four areas of Hertfordshire.
Under Tier 3, people must not meet indoors or in most outdoor places with anybody that they do not live with, or who is not their support bubble, including in private gardens and most outdoor venues. The rule of six applies outdoors in a limited number of public places such as parks.
Hospitality businesses such as bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants will close apart from to offer takeaways, as will accommodation such as hotels, B&Bs, campsites, and guest houses. The list of exceptions and exemptions can be found here. The council will work with government to ensure local businesses have all the available support.
Cllr Trevor Harp, cabinet member for health and adult social care, says:
"The announcement made by the Government today was earlier than we expected and many will have wanted. Whilst a move to tier three is going to disappoint and cause issues for many, we must acknowledge that rates and hospital admissions across south Essex and the wider area are increasing rapidly and so we understand why the Government has decided on this course of action. Once rates get beyond a certain level, and as they have become here, it is very difficult to get them back down without significant intervention. "Combined with the increased testing capacity we saw rolled out this weekend in partnership with the Government, along with people adhering to these new restrictions, we believe we can arrest this rapid rate increase and get back into lower restrictions as soon as possible. So please do adhere to these restrictions and do your bit to keep yourself, your family and your community safe."
Cllr Ian Gilbert, leader of the council, says:
"We know the impact this will have on our hospitality industry, who have worked so hard throughout the pandemic to keep their businesses COVID-secure and keep people safe. Their dedicated approach to this has helped keep rates relatively low in Southend-on-Sea until very recently. "We will do all we can to support those businesses affected and lobby for and pass on any national funding we receive for that purpose quickly. We would also encourage local people to continue supporting the local hospitality industry by safely enjoying delivery, click and collect or by simply buying vouchers to be used in the future for example. Now is the time to adhere to the regulations but also shop local, shop safe and support local business as best we can. "We will also continue to support the most vulnerable in our community, though existing measures like the essential living fund and our additional winter grant funding. Finally, please do adhere to the restrictions. Please also think carefully about who you are planning to mix with at Christmas as part of the Christmas bubble and whether that is the safest thing to do at the current time and whist rates in the local area are high, and rising. If you do plan to form a Christmas bubble, then please consider who you are mixing with now in advance of 23 December."
Indoor entertainment and tourist venues must also close including casinos, amusement arcades, museums and galleries, soft play centres, bowling alleys, cinemas, theatres, concert halls and indoor attractions linked to theme parks and funfairs.
Places of worship will remain open, but people must not attend with or socialise with anyone outside of their household or support bubble.
Weddings and funerals can go ahead, but with restrictions. 15 people can attend a wedding ceremony, however, wedding receptions are not allowed. For funerals, 30 people can attend and 15 people can attend linked commemorative events.
Under Tier 3 restrictions, residents are advised to work from home if they can, and reduce the number of journeys made where possible and avoid travelling outside of the area they live, including for overnight stays other than where necessary, such as for work, education, youth services, to receive medical treatment, or because of caring responsibilities.
Details for support for businesses in all tiers, including financial support for those in Tier 3 can be found here- https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus/business-support
Government advice on forming a Christmas bubble is on GOV.UK
Decisions on which area goes into which tier are primarily based on 5 key epidemiological indicators:
1. case detection rates in all age groups
2. case detection rates in the over-60s
3. the rate at which cases are rising or falling
4. positivity rate (the number of positive cases detected as a percentage of tests taken)
5. pressure on the NHS, including current and projected occupancy