CORONAVIRUS restrictions remain unchanged in Dorset following the government’s review of the national tier system.
The whole of Dorset will remain in Tier 2 over the Christmas period, to be reviewed again on December 30 and then every two weeks after.
The announcement was made in the House of Commons today by Health Secretary Matt Hancock, but has been described as a bitter disappointment by his fellow Conservative MP, Chris Loder, who represents West Dorset.
Mr Loder appealed to Mr Hancock earlier this week to consider West Dorset’s low infections rate when reviewing the tier system, saying it was unfair for small towns such as Lyme Regis to be placed in the same tier as the county’s more urban areas, such as Bournemouth.
Mr Loder described today’s announcement as an “unjustified blow for the communities and businesses of West Dorset”.
The West Dorset MP, who continues to seek clarification from the government on the criteria for coming out of Tier 2, says: “On Monday, in response to my question in the House of Commons to the Health Secretary, he said that the people of West Dorset should ‘stick at it, stick at the rules’ and that was the ‘most likely way of getting into Tier 1’.
“From my perspective, the people of West Dorset have been sticking at it; following the rules diligently for months, and that is why we have such a low case rate. In fact, our case rate in rural Dorset right now is twenty-five percent lower than that of Cornwall when it was placed in Tier 1 two just over weeks ago.”
Mr Loder says that he will continue to push for rural Dorset to be moved down to Tier 1 at the earliest opportunity.
In the meantime, he has asked the Business Minister to consider fair financial support for West Dorset’s small and micro-sized businesses, including many self-employed, who are directly affected by the continued restriction.
Remaining in Tier 2 means that pubs and restaurants will only be able to welcome customers from the same household or support bubble over the Christmas period, and will only be able to serve alcohol alongside a substantial meal.
All pubs in Lyme Regis have now managed to reopen under the restrictions, with the Nag’s Head the latest to reopen doors this week.