I know this news will come as a blow to many people in our area who have already sacrificed so much in fighting this virus.
But cases are rising rapidly – including among older people – and we’re seeing intensive care beds filling up and more people dying. So we have to do more to help stop the spread.
In the discussions I had directly with the health secretary I wanted to make sure that the extra restrictions for South Yorkshire are targeted where there is evidence of outbreaks. This is why our gyms and bingo halls are staying open when they have closed in other areas with the highest alert level; and I’ve also argued hard for hairdressers and nail bars to continue working safely.
MPs have strongly backed local leaders in pushing for support for businesses and extra cash for testing, and the Armed Forces are on stand-by to help if we need them.
But the government could go further. Nationally, Labour is continuing to argue that as we move towards a second lockdown the government has got to step up and support jobs, family incomes and businesses, as they did in March.
In the last seven days:
- 1,130 people in Barnsley tested positive for Covid-19, up 487 or 76% on the week before. There have been 10 deaths (up by six).
- 1,064 people in Rotherham tested positive, up 382 or 56% on the week before. There have been eight deaths (up five).
The new restrictions mean:
- People must not socialise with anybody they do not live with, or have formed a support bubble with, in any indoor setting or in any private garden or at most outdoor hospitality venues and ticketed events
- People must not socialise in a group of more than 6 in an outdoor public space such as a park or beach, the countryside, a public garden or a sports venue
- All pubs and bars must close, unless they are serving substantial meals
- People should try to avoid travelling outside the Very High alert level or entering a Very High alert level area, other than for work, education or for caring responsibilities or to travel through as part of a longer journey
- Residents should avoid staying overnight in another part of the UK, and others should avoid staying overnight in the Very High alert area
In addition, the following restrictions will also apply in South Yorkshire:
- Additional closures will include: adult gaming centres, casinos and soft play centres
- Gyms and leisure centres will remain open, but classes will not be allowed and social distancing guidelines should be followed between people from different households
South Yorkshire will receive £41m from the government, including £30m for businesses and £11 to support public health measures like test and trace.
If restrictions work, individual local authorities will be able to move to lower alert levels as soon as it’s safe. But to get to that point as quickly as possible we all need to follow the new rules, which come in on Saturday 24 October.