Sheffield’s health boss speaks on Christmas rules and a return to Tier 3 restrictions

Sheffield’s health bosses remain in the dark about rules over Christmas and what restrictions the city will be under when the national lockdown finishes.

Sunday, 15th November 2020, 8:03 am

More than 580,000 people in the city were living under Tier 3 rules prior to the start of the second lockdown on 5 November but it is not currently known if they will still apply from 2 December when it is set to end.

Susan Hird, consultant in Public Health at Sheffield City Council, said: “It all rather depends on what the data looks like across the country.

"It seems to be going in the right direction which is really good but I don’t know what’s going to happen in early December.”

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It is "unlikely" to be a normal Christmas in Sheffield this year, a city health boss has warned.

Ms Hird previously said she expected the city to remain under Tier 3 restrictions beyond November 18 when they were originally due to be reviewed.

Sheffield’s infection rate grew from about 20 per 100,000 people in early summer to almost 450 before the toughest controls were introduced in October, while the amount of people testing positive went from one in 100 to more than 20.

The number of people admitted to hospital with coronavirus also rose during the same period. All of these things are considered when deciding whether to introduce tougher measures.

The city’s direction of Public Health said this week the trends are ‘settling’, albeit at a much higher level. The infection rate in Sheffield was above the national average of 196 in the seven days to 9 November at 349 per 100,000 people.

Susan Hird, consultant in Public Health at Sheffield City Council. Photo: Sheffield City Council.

On Christmas, Ms Hird said: "It’s a really difficult one. I think it’s unlikely to be a normal Christmas. I think that would be fair to say and I think most people wouldn’t expect Christmas to be completely normal.

"I don’t think we will know about what might or might not be allowed until much nearer the time. I think most people are prepared for it not to be totally normal.”

Discussions have taken place about the four nations of the UK taking a joint approach to Covid rules over Christmas.

A virtual meeting this week was the first of what UK ministers hope will be weekly meetings.

Cabinet office minister Michael Gove said they all recognised families across the UK "want to be able to see their loved ones this Christmas".

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.