‘We do not expect to move out of tier three’, warns Kent County Council leader

Kent County Council leader Roger Gough

By Local Democracy Reporter Ciaran Duggan

The tough coronavirus restrictions currently faced by the county’s 1.8 million residents will likely continue beyond next Wednesday, says the leader of Kent County Council (KCC).

Cllr Roger Gough (Con) said he does not expect the area’s covid tier status to change when a Government review is carried out in five days’ time (Dec 16).

Yesterday, he told KCC’s scrutiny committee that the county’s infection rate remains “uncomfortably high” and “widespread” with half of the areas among the UK’s top 20 hotspots.

They include Swale, Medway, Gravesham, Thanet, Maidstone, Dover and Canterbury, ranging from 375 to 676 cases per 100,000 people.  Weekly case rates in Thanet have been reducing but all other districts in the county have a rising rate.

Cllr Gough, who says “rapid progress” is being made on mass testing and local contact tracing, warned: “We do not expect a change to our status at the most immediate checkpoint next week.”

Meanwhile, KCC’s public health cabinet member Cllr Clair Bell (Con) added: “The way things are going, I can’t see our status changing when we come to the review next week, but we have to keep working on it.”

The situation was discussed during an extraordinary scrutiny meeting yesterday (December 10) as county councillors remain divided about the way forward.

It was revealed that Kent was poised to move from the lowest restrictions up to tier two shortly before the second national lockdown was imposed on November 5 as hospital admissions began to rise.

Since then, cases and the number of deaths have continued to increase. At KCC’s scrutiny, council chiefs were probed about the underlying causes.

The chairman, Andy Booth (Con), of the Isle of Sheppey, said: “What we have seen exhibited in Kent over the nine months is a degree of complacency.”

Cllr Gary Cooke (Con), of Maidstone, said shops were far stricter in the first lockdown as staff limited the number of people entering the store, strongly enforcing social distancing and mandating one-way systems through the aisles.

He said: “Going into the supermarkets for Christmas shopping, it is open season.”

Cllr Trudy Dean (Lib Dem) said she suspected the rise in cases had been in areas of high deprivation and among adolescents. She said: “Young people think they are indestructible and do not think in long terms of time.”

KCC Labour leader Cllr Dara Farrell probed the council executives on how Kent can move out of tier three. In response, Cllr Gough said there were a series of key indicators, but the Government remains “unspecific” about the tests.

The main tests include the Covid rate of infection, the number of people who have the virus that are aged over 60 and the pressure on the NHS, including capacity of beds.

New measures introduced to tackle the concerning spread include tougher rule enforcement by the police with more fines issued; the launch of Kent’s local test and trace system and mass testing in Swale, Medway and Thanet.

However, Cllr Bell said the “real way” out of the pandemic was with the vaccine.


  1. I’m worried sick. My family consists of three people and we all live together my son and I are vulnerable due to diabetes and asthma my daughter works in a supermarket at night. Here is where the worry comes in, If people can mix with family from other households over Christmas then when she goes to work on boxing day and the other days when people can mix she will then mix with colleges that have been mixing with other household surly making the risk of catching covid higher for her and everyone else

    • Your daughter’s employer must provide a covid secure environment in which for her to work. Especially so given her circumstances.
      She can take steps – be scrupulous about wearing a face mask, hand hygiene and staying well away from others.

  2. If our KCC was adamant with government and demanded to implement mass testing throughout Kent when we were put into tier c on 3rd December as a whole county as that is what our tier 3 status is based on then maybe our infection rate would have decreased by now, it worked in Liverpool

  3. Lockdowns and lockdown tiers kill more people than the virus itself. And the virus has not been isolated. With a survival rate of around 99.7 per cent, what sort of dystopian world is being presented here? Look to the medical, scientific, legal and banking experts at the World Freedom Alliance for real truths, and they aim to hold officials dealing in untruths to account one day. Plus many others in these fields speaking out globally and being censored by the corporate media, and those taking too much advertising money from big pharma and the government’s dubious information programmes. And where are the risk assessments on the health dangers to mask wearing for schools and retailers etc. So many speaking out now. Very revealing.

    • Actually the virus has been isolated countless times in laboratories around the World.
      Yes, you’re right, there is a good survival rate, there are also many people dying, globally, and many suffering long term illness from covid-19.
      Currently, there are numerous studies looking at the genetic differences between those that breeze through the virus, with hardly any symptoms and make a full recovery and those that end up critically ill or dead or with long term health consequences.
      Moving forward, this will be incredibly beneficial, as will all of the vaccines that have been created around the World.
      The World is fortunate to have so many scientists, whose work and dedication keep people safe.
      But, right now, the best way to keep safe is by controlling the spread of the virus with the measures advised by scientists, hand washing, social distancing, mask wearing, a very small price to pay in keeping the vulnerable members of one’s community safe.
      You’d do better to ask the mask wearers if it does them harm, than to believe the others in your anti-mask brigade, how would they know?
      Lockdowns and tier systems, of course, don’t come without a price but, they are still the best option at the moment and it would seem that the majority of people ignoring the advised measures aren’t doing so for the benefit of those that are made more vulnerable by lockdowns and tier systems, just for their own selfish reasons. You need only look at the queues outside of Primark, McDonalds,Ikea, etc. These are not people who are concerned about the isolated people who live alone or the families affected by domestic abuse or the child brides in poor countries or anyone else made vulnerable by lockdowns.
      These are not even people concerned about the economy, these are just people who think it’s their right to go and buy more stuff that they don’t even need. These are people that would rather kill their granny by putting her at risk, because they just couldn’t do without those two £6 handbags and then had to have their Big Mac, because it’s against their civil liberties not to, people who still need to have a dozen or more people around their dinner tables at Christmas and still need to give their kids the latest “have to have” toys and to have a good drink and eat too much of everything, because it wouldn’t be Christmas without it, even though there are other people starving and homeless.
      So when we do eventually get beyond this global crisis, I wonder who are the people that should really be held accountable for spreading untruths.
      I hope that my first time of speaking out may be considered very revealing too.
      Frankly I’m sick of hearing the uneducated whinging of the narcissists that think the rules don’t apply to them.

  4. It is a complete fallacy to say that lockdown kills more than the virus does.
    It is a complete fallacy to say that the survival rate is 99.7%. The death rate for those who contract the disease is 3.5% in the UK. If it were not for lockdown and other interventions, more than 2,000,000 people would die, and many many more would suffer the consequences of long covid.
    When it comes to looking for truths, I’m content with the peer reviewed material published by learned journals, rather than neoliberal maverick.
    The chair of the “World Freedon Alliance” is Professor Dolores Cahill. The Irish Times has this to report:
    “The school of medicine in University College Dublin (UCD) has disassociated itself from views expressed by a professor who told an online alt-right interviewer that she wanted to “debunk the narrative” surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

    Prof Dolores Cahill, who chairs the Eurosceptic Irish Freedom Party, has been asked to resign as vice-chair of the scientific committee of the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) because of her claims.”

  5. Any tier restrictions can do what they like. I once liked this country, now I wouldn’t wee on it if it was on fire.

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