The announcement on Thursday morning that Tier 3 local restrictions are to be imposed on Coventry from 2 December, as England comes out of a second lockdown, has sparked widespread condemnation from local officials and residents in the city.
The unexpected news came as a shock to many who expected – and rightly so – that Coventry would face Tier 2 restrictions, taking into consideration the consistent drop in the number of positive cases, deaths and hospitalisations in the past few weeks.
Recent data shows that the number of deaths in the city are down 23 per cent as of 26 November, and patients being admitted to hospital in the region down 10 per cent.
The rate of infection per 100,000 resident population in the city has now dropped just below 200 – at 199.7 – as of 21 November.
This negative trend in figures has been consisted for just over two weeks now, with cases appearing to have peaked in Coventry on 9 November, when 190 cases were recorded in one day.
While some claimed that the city appears to have been ‘lumped in’ with Birmingham, according to the most recent Coronavirus Situation Report, dated 26 November, Coventry appears to have been jointly assessed and classified with Warwickshire and Solihull.
In a graph produced by the Joint Biosecurity Centre that plots weekly cases per 100,000 population alongside their recommended tier, Coventry is shown as having the lowest number of coronavirus cases in all of Tier 3.
All the signs point to Coventry heading in the right direction, prompting anger around the Government’s decision to impose Tier 3 restrictions on the city, despite lobbying from Coventry City Council for Tier 2 restrictions to be imposed at the most.
Perhaps the most important factor against Tier 3 restrictions, though, goes beyond the data and trends and instead looks to people – the hospitality and tourism sector.
These two sectors are among the worse hit by the pandemic and will continue to face the brunt of the storm under Tier 3 restrictions, with restaurants and pubs forced to remain closed and missing out on much-needed custom at a time of year when it is needed most – and this year more than most.
Within hours of the Tier 3 news, the knock-on effect had already cemented its presence on the sectors, with the opening of the soon-to-be landmark Telegraph Hotel forced to postpone again.
The Leader of Coventry City Council, Cllr George Duggins, also hinted at the decision causing possible disruption to preparations for UK City of Culture 2021.
Despite the optimism that Coventry could be reduced to Tier 2 when local restrictions are reviewed by the Government nationally on 16 November, the most recent Coronavirus Situation Report casts a shadow of doubt on that hope.
The report advises that “continued improvement over the coming period” in areas where cases are “high but declining” could make them candidates for “de-escalation [of restrictions] in the New Year” – indicating that Coventry might not see restrictions declined until January.
Though, being the area with the lowest number of cases in Tier 3 could see Coventry at the front of the queue for de-escalation of restrictions, and comments from minister Robert Jenrick on Friday morning, that there is “every reason” to believe some areas could see restrictions reduced in December, are somewhat reassuring.