Somerset Public Health and Council leaders have supported the Government’s decision to place the county into Tier 2 when lockdown ends next week.
Somerset County Council’s Director of Public Health Trudi Grant and County Council Leader David Fothergill took questions from the public during a virtual meeting on Thursday evening (November 26th). Burnham-On-Sea.com was among those at the session.
Responding to a question from a local resident about why Somerset’s “hard work has not being reflected by the government” in making the Tier 2 decision, Cllr Fothergill responded: “I think it was a very difficult choice for tiers one, two or three.”
“I think that tier one would be probably just too light a touch for Somerset. It did not work particularly well for us the first time round when our numbers started to increase.”
Cllr Fothergill, pictured during Thursday’s meeting, added: “We absolutely did not want to go into tier three at this stage and I certainly argued that quite strongly with contacts in Westminster.”
“Tier three would have had a serious economic impact on the county and also on jobs so I think Tier two was right, but it will be reviewed in two weeks’ time. Let’s see where it goes, but I don’t think that Tier one would have been right at this stage.”
Trudi Grant added: “I agree with David. I think we have shown clearly that Tier 1 wouldn’t hold the spread of the virus, so I do think that Tier 1 wasn’t suitable for us at this point in time.”
“I also think because we are just coming out of a lockdown and just heading into Christmas, my humble opinion at the moment is that it’s not a time to be taking risks.”
“We would all love to be in Tier 1 – or for the pandemic to be over – but actually going into Christmas when we’re hoping to get a little bit of relaxation, then it’s not a time to be taking risks.”
Cllr Fothergill added: “I would add that we have quite an elderly population with a significant proportion of older people who are very vulnerable. We also have low community resistance, so there’s a bit of a double whammy there if we get it wrong at this stage just before Christmas.”
During the session, it was confirmed that Somerset’s total Coronavirus death toll has reached a sad total of 228 people.
But Trudi Grant said infection rates have begun to fall in the latest data and that Somerset has been “very successful in keeping the rates low compared to the rest of England.”
She also noted that the number of Somerset people dying from Covid has halved since the start of the pandemic, showing the increased knowledge and improved treatment for the virus.
That said, the meeting heard that 1,343 Somerset people have been confirmed as Covid positive during the last two weeks.