Harrogate faces difficult 'balancing act' on Covid and the economy in weeks to come says council leader

Mounting pressure to achieve an almost impossible balancing act between saving lives and saving livelihoods in Harrogate hit a new highpoint this week after the Government’s latest measures in the Covid crisis.

Friday, 16th October 2020, 11:40 am

The town may have escaped the toughest restrictions of the Prime Minister’s new three-tier lockdown system so far.

But news that the NHS Nightingale Hospital in Harrogate has been put on standby and talk of a drift towards a new ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown is spreading fear of a ‘worst case scenario’ for local businesses this winter.

For now Harrogate and the rest of North Yorkshire are in Tier 1, which is the lowest of the three levels for Covid restrictions. (Picture Gerard Binks)

Coun Richard Cooper, leader of Harrogate Borough Council, said everyone was working towards the best outcome for the town but the time of easy decisions had gone.

Coun Cooper said: “There are few easy decisions when it comes to containing Covid-19 and there are no decisions that will be universally accepted.

"We all want our lives to be as normal as they can be but we also want our elderly friends and relatives to be protected.

“It is a difficult balance between those two aspects and with people’s mental health, their livelihoods and more.”

At the moment, Harrogate and the rest of North Yorkshire is in Tier 1 in the Government's new system for tackling the pandemic, which is the lowest of the three levels and has the least punishing measures to comply with.

But that has not stopped alarm over the already and increasingly tough situation for businesses in the hospitality sector, in particular, being sounded by Harrogate District Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber’s chief executive Sandra Doherty said she remained very concerned. She said: “If we were to go up a level or even go back into shut down the results will be immediately felt and devastating for the town.”

But there is uncertainty over which circumstances would see Harrogate being moved into the worst tiers.

Would any future switch from one tier of Covid restrictions to a higher one apply to across the whole of North Yorkshire or would it apply only to areas where the virus figures have spiked?

Council leader Richard Cooper said he would not like to see Harrogate suffer under any future North Yorkshire-wide lockdown if its own figures did not justify it.

He said: “It would seem sensible to look at additional measures in the areas of higher transmission only. The difficulty with this is that people travel within the county and take the virus with them.”

What are the restrictions for ‘Tier Three’ regions?

Tier 3 restrictions mean that pubs, bars, gyms, casinos and adult gaming centres must be immediately shut.

Local lockdown restrictions must be agreed between Government and local council leaders before being announced and applied.

What are the restrictions for ‘Tier Two’ regions?

Anyone living in a Tier 2 area is prohibited to meet anyone not in their household or bubble indoors.

Pubs and restaurants will remain open to the public but as with Tier 1 restrictions, will also close at 10pm and need to comply with the strict social distancing measures in place.

What are the restrictions for ‘Tier One’ regions?

Tier 1 regions are regarded as ‘Medium Risk’ and basically follow the guidelines which were set out before the Tier system was introduced

This includes obeying the Rule of Six, pubs and restaurants having to close by 10pm and people working from home where possible.

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