Kent County Council will lobby government for more business support now the county has been placed into Tier 4 restrictions.
The announcement by government yesterday (December 19) means Thanet – along with the rest of the South East, London and East of England – is in ‘stay at home’ restrictions similar to the November ‘lockdown.’
The move has required all non-essential shops and businesses, including indoor entertainment [such as cinemas, bowling alleys and casinos], and personal care sectors [such as nail bars, barbers and hairdressers] to close yet again.
Venues can continue to operate click-and-collect (where goods are pre-ordered and collected off the premises) and delivery services and hospitality venues can provide food and drink for takeaway (until 11pm), click-and-collect, drive-through or delivery but the impact in the Christmas week will still be devastating for many small businesses.
Kent County Council Leader Roger Gough said: “This is devastating news for the county, for our local economy and for the families that have made Christmas plans that are now in ruins.
“We will do everything in our power to support the county and our residents through this.
“The government has taken this decision to counteract a new and faster variant of the virus which has played a big part in the rapid rise in infections in Kent, London and the south east.
“We will continue to push forward with our local testing and tracing programme, asymptomatic testing and constant engagement with our residents to ensure we are all able to abide by the regulations and get infections down.
“I know the huge difficulties and sacrifices this announcement will cause, but the science is unfortunately very clear. Each one of us must again continue to protect each other’s health from this devastating virus.
“Kent County Council will do everything we can to support local businesses, many of which have already suffered and will have to now remain closed until these new restrictions are lifted.
“We believe, and will be arguing strongly to government, that business support in tier four areas must be strengthened and enhanced to protect livelihoods.
“Christmas is a time when families and friends come together and this year many will find themselves alone and struggling. The Kent Together helpline remains open for all those requiring help and support during this time.”
Any Kent resident who requires support with accessing food, or who has any other urgent needs, can call 03000 41 92 92 or visit www.kent.gov.uk/kenttogether 24 hours a day.
Latest government data (published December 20 and displaying the rate for the week up to December 15), shows rises in the positive case rate per 100,000 people across Kent.
The figure for Thanet has started to rise again although the district is now among the lower rates in the county, standing at 619.4 per 100,000 according to government data.
The data shows 172 new positive cases reported for Thanet today (December 20) making a seven day total of 862, up 50.4% on the preceding seven days. A total of 5,972 positive tests have been recorded for Thanet.
The total number of people recorded who have died within 28 days of testing positive for Coronavirus as of 20 December was 215 (loss of life within 28 days of a positive test). Covid-19 is mentioned on the death certificate but may not be the primary cause of death.
New figures available at local level show the number of positive cases per age group. For Thanet, on December 14, the highest rate of cases on that day was amongst the 30-49 age group.
Data for December 14 via gov.uk
|Rolling Rate per 100,000
|0 to 4
|5 to 9
Government covid data, rates per 100,000 (7 days ending December 15)
|Barking and Dagenham
|Folkestone and Hythe
|Tonbridge and Malling
Weekly data from NHS England shows a large rise in the number of covid patients being cared for by East Kent Hospitals (Margate, Ashford and Canterbury).
The latest data shows 349 beds in use for covid patients under the trust on December 15.
This is a rise of some 122 from the previous week when the Trust had recorded 227 covid patients as of December 8,.
The data also shows a rise of mechanical ventilation beds in use for patients with confirmed positive covid tests from 18 on December 8 to 26 on December 15.
The trust has recorded 669 covid related deaths across its hospitals since the pandemic began up to December 17 although data between December 13-17 – recording 40 losses- is provisional and could be updated.
The pressure on East Kent Hospitals has resulted in the transfer of some patients to other hospitals outside of the Trust sites. It is understood four covid patients were transferred on Friday.
East Kent Hospitals Trust says: “The pressure on all NHS services across Kent and Medway has risen significantly due to the higher infection rates in the community we’ve seen in recent weeks. All our hospitals are very busy and we expect that to continue over the coming weeks.
“The NHS across Kent and Medway is working together to provide support where needed and have cooperated to ensure we have opened more critical care beds. We’re continuing to provide cancer and other urgent operations and aim to carry on providing other treatments as much as possible; but in some cases we need to move staff so they can support the additional critical care beds we have opened.”
Mixed reaction to Tier 4
South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay has said he is not convinced the lockdown measures are working.
He said: “I’m saddened South Thanet and Kent has been put into new Tier4. I feel for independent traders who’ll have geared up for Christmas and for families looking forward to brief respite for festive season. We’ve been in lockdown for 6 weeks and there is no improvement. I remain unmoved that they’re the answer.”
However, North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale said it was vital to stick to the restrictions. He said: “It is very hard but if we are to enjoy Christmas and at the same time stay safe it is vital that everyone sticks to the restrictions that have been announced this afternoon. The alternative will be a truly dangerous and terrible start to 2021.”
County Councillor Karen Constantine said: “I welcome Thanet going into Tier 4, we need to do everything we can to protect ourselves and our community from the new strain of Covid. However the plans for tackling the pandemic in communities like ours are in chaos. It has been clear for sometime that the infection rate in Thanet was rising alarmingly. Recently we had the second highest rates in the Country. I have been repeatedly asking vital questions of KCC leader Roger Gough and calling for action which would have helped to prevent the spread of this dreadful virus.”
The councillor said she had written to the leader to ask for residents to be told when and how asymptomatic covid testing would begin in Thanet. Receiving no answer she says she again wrote to ask about testing and vaccine roll outs, but still did not receive a reply.
She added: “From the very beginning of this pandemic WHO, the world health organisation have repeatedly advised ‘test, test, test’. Testing is vital to understanding virus transmission and protecting public health.
“Like many other families we have quickly altered our arrangements for Christmas. But I am worried by those who are now having to self-isolate and those who will inevitably be lonely and socially isolated over Christmas.
“Better planning, adequate communication and an effective testing regime would have afforded us time to plan to support those who will now suffer.
“I simply can’t understand why Thanet is treated so appallingly.”