New restrictions in Birmingham as city added to Covid-19 'watchlist'

Birmingham has been added to the UK coronavirus watchlist as an “area of enhanced support.”

Birmingham City Council chief Ian Ward has outlined some new restrictions, which include a halt on opening up any more sectors, and compulsory face covering in taxis – unless you have a ‘clinical need exemption’.

Cllr Ward has said that the new measures being put in place are part of a package which is going to be presented to England’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock this afternoon.

He also said the watchlist should be a “wake-up call for everyone”, Birmingham Live reports.

There have been reports that the UK’s second city could be placed into a local lockdown amid rising numbers of cases in the area.

In the seven days to August 17, 332 positive Covid-19 cases were recorded in Birmingham, a rate of 29.1 per 100,000 people, up from 292 cases the week before.

Among the new restrictions: 

  • A halt on opening up any more sectors 
  • Restrictions on gatherings of greater than 30 people except for congregational prayer 
  • Face coverings in taxis and private hire vehicles except where a clinical need exemption for driver and passengers 
  • From now there can only be up to TWO people from another household meeting up with another household 

The measures are VOLUNTARY and advisory, and only apply in Birmingham city.

In a statement Cllr Ward said: “As we have previously said, this announcement was expected following rising coronavirus case numbers here in Birmingham.

“We are working with our partners locally and at a government level to shape plans and secure the resources such as extra testing that we need that will get the infection rate down.

“We will make announcements as soon as possible about what this means for the people of the city.

“If our previous warnings to keep doing the basics haven’t been enough, this has to be the wake-up call for everyone.

“Wash your hands, wear face coverings wherever possible, keep 2m apart from others and get tested if you have Covid-19 symptoms.”

In a statement posted on Twitter, Conservative mayor of the region Andy Street said: “People across the region have made an enormous sacrifice since the start of lockdown to keep the virus at bay, but the virus is now returning and recent efforts to counter that have been insufficient.

“It is evident that some people have not been strict enough when it comes to keeping up the basics of social distancing, hand washing and wearing a face covering, nor following the guidelines on avoiding mass gatherings.

“This has to change immediately and I would ask every single citizen, both across Birmingham and the West Midlands, to redouble their efforts.”

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