VIRUS RESTRICTIONS: Business owner criticises 'blanket approach' and…

VIRUS RESTRICTIONS: Business owner criticises 'blanket approach' and calls for tax reduction

THE RESTRICTIONS on social gatherings in Bradford introduced two weeks ago are to remain in force.

It means the national easing of restrictions planned tomorrow around the reopening of venues including casinos, bowling alleys and conference halls will not apply to Bradford, Kirklees and Calderdale.

The news was met with a mixture of frustration and resignation by businesspeople, politicians and the council.

It’s been more than 100 days since Jeff Taylor, the director of Go Bowling in Shipley, opened his doors to the public.

In normal times, bowling league teams and families would start to block out the lanes from morning and into the night.

But after the last-minute decision to stop the reopening of such venues on July 4, this latest announcement has left Mr Taylor feeling “disappointed”.

Speaking to the Telegraph & Argus about he felt, he said: “Just a bit disappointed. They’ve taken a blanket approach to the issues and haven’t gone down the approach that happened in Luton where people had the restrictions around LU4. Look at the areas around the university and the BRI which is presently where the issues lay in terms of the rate of community infection.

“It would be nice for the Government to be very supportive to look at VAT reduction for the next six to eight months. We can only do it at half capacity. Until this virus gets to a point where we can where we can resume what we used to call normality, the bowling alleys will only be able to do it at half capacity. We’re still going to have to pay out insurance, use our electricity, we’ve still got these staff costs. We’ve got to find a way to work around it and some of them will volunteer to take slightly less hours. Ultimately, half capacity but not half the expenses. The business will just about wash its face.”

Philip Davies (Con, Shipley) said: “I am extremely disappointed the local lockdown continues to apply to my constituency as I have made clear to the Government and the Prime Minister. The number of coronavirus cases in my constituency does not justify the lockdown and the impact it is having on people’s jobs, livelihoods, businesses and local economy.

“I will continue to do all I can to see my constituency removed at the earliest opportunity, but clearly it will require the small number of cases getting even lower”

The Department of Health and Social Care announced that the current rules will continue in those areas following consideration of all local restrictions yesterday by government and local authorities.

This meant that people in the areas will continue to not be permitted to mix with other households (apart from those in their support bubble) within private homes or gardens. People are still able to meet others in groups up to six individuals, or two households, in outdoor public places.

Indoor swimming pools, gyms and other leisure facilities will continue to remain closed. Venues and settings that are currently open will remain open.

The number of recorded coronavirus cases in Bradford increased by 99 over the last 48 hours, official figures from Public Health England show. The rate of infection in Bradford now stands at 1,045 cases per 100,000 people, far higher than the England average of 486.

In the latest figures, for the seven days to August 9, Bradford recorded 54.7 positive tests per 100,000 population with 295 new cases compared to 52.6 per 100,000 and 284 new cases in the previous seven-day period.

In Calderdale there were 44.5 cases per 100,000 people recorded (94 new cases) compared to 39.7 (84) previously while in Kirklees there were 30.2 positives per 100,000 (133 new cases) up from 26.1 (115) in the previous seven-day period.

Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, Leader of Bradford Council, said: “We know these restrictions are challenging for people and businesses in our district. But it is right that the Government has kept them in place as we know we must do all we can to bring infection rates down. I am grateful to all those people across our district are following these restrictions despite the inconvenience they bring, and by doing so are helping us to fight the virus.

“I want to thank all the staff and volunteers from all the agencies involved for the tremendous efforts that are being made to tackle infection rates. A huge amount has been done both in terms of increasing testing and reinforcing the messages that we need to stay safe and protect ourselves, our families and our communities.

“We will continue to work with our partners as hard as we can, but it is really important that everyone plays their part. I urge everyone to make sure they follow all the steps the Government has outlined and which we have in our Covid Code. We all need to help in this effort so that our district doesn’t go into a local lockdown.”

The latest figures by postcode in the week August 2-9 show the number of cases in the Shearbridge & University area have fallen from the low 30s – one of the worst in the country – to 21. The worst in the district was Thornbury at 25 and third worst was Toller Lane & Infirmary at 20.

The Ministry said the latest evidence does not show a decrease in the number of cases per 100,000 people in the area, and the Health Secretary, in collaboration with local leaders, had agreed that the rules must remain in place at present.

Minister for Health Edward Argar said: “I’d like to thank everyone in Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire, East Lancashire and Leicester for their continued patience in following these vital rules put in place to tackle the spread of the disease – I know it hasn’t been easy.

“We will review the measures again next week as part of our ongoing surveillance and monitoring of the latest data.

“It is essential we all remain vigilant, and I urge everyone in these areas to continue to follow the rules – wash your hands regularly, follow social distancing, get yourself a free test as soon as you get any symptoms, and isolate if NHS Test and Trace tells you to.”