RISING infection rates in South Lakeland are a ‘major concern’ and the district could be subject to a request for a higher tier of lockdown in future, it has been announced.
Andrew Slattery, chair of Cumbria’s Strategic Co-ordinating Group, said: “(The infection rate in) South Lakeland is about 140 per 100,000, that’s at the level that Leicester was locked down.
“We’re very concerned about the rising infection rates, the rise in hospitalisation.”
He described South Lakeland as an area of ‘major concern’ and said the possibility of raising its lockdown tier could be looked at in future.
In the ‘high alert’ tier, members of the public are no longer allowed to meet socially with people they do not live with indoors – this includes pubs and restaurants.
However, ACC Slattery said South Lakeland was ‘not there just yet’ but, as with other areas, would be ‘constantly’ reviewed.
Tim Farron, MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, described the ‘sharp rise’ in infection rates in South Lakeland as ‘deeply alarming’.
“None of us want to see further restrictions, but none of us also want to see more of our loved ones taken from us by this deadly virus,” he said.
“We desperately need the Government to fix test, track and trace so we are able to live with this virus, but until that becomes a reality I am prepared to support further sensible restrictions in order to save lives and protect the National Health Service as we head into winter.
“However, any new restrictions must come with financial support and sadly at the moment the support available for places put in tier two and tier three simply isn’t anywhere near enough to protect local jobs and businesses.”
Mr Slattery said Cumbria Constabulary had also been informed by people in the business community that enquiries had been made by Scottish football fans about coming down in ‘coach-loads’ to Cumbria to watch matches in pubs.
Rangers play Celtic in the ‘Old Firm’ on Saturday.
ACC Slattery said the force would have to be ‘pragmatic’ about its approach to anyone who breached Coronavirus restrictions by doing this – whether this involves turning them around or imposing more severe penalties such as fines.
Superintendent Matt Kennerley said police officers would be out in town centres to enforce the regulations.
“We understand restrictions on licensed premises in Scotland might offer the temptation to travel south of the border to visit our pubs and bars – but anybody breaching rules here does face a fine,” he said.
“We would like licensees to be aware of this and to think carefully about their responsibilities and the rules in place to protect everyone.
“For people in the central belt of Scotland, it is also important to remember the Scottish Government is asking those people to think carefully about whether they need to travel outside their local health board area.”
Supt Kennerley also urged members of the public who decided to travel to ‘think carefully about their actions’ with the virus ‘spreading fast’.
“Firstly consider if you do need to make that journey, as the more we restrict our contact the less likely the virus is to spread,” he said
“If you do travel you must familiarise yourself with the rules in that area.
“In Cumbria, you must comply with the ‘rule of six’, wear face coverings on public transport and contact tracing is in place in licensed premises.
“We are also strongly advising people to limit indoor and outdoor contact with others to people from no more than two households at a time.
“Social distancing applies at all times.”