Covid Tier 3 lockdown: Sheffield negotiations labelled 'farce' as talks paused in North East

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Ben Chapman

A Sheffield City Council leader has described the negotiations with government over Tier 3 restrictions as a "charade", as the government has paused talks on further restrictions with leaders in the North East.

Julie Dore said: "I think it’s outrageous. I entered into it in good faith and, basically, it was just a charade that we went through.”

Her comments come as South Yorkshire is set to move into Tier 3 Covid lockdown restrictions after a deal was reached between local leaders and the government to provide £41 million in extra support.

However the Labour councillor said the government were "trying to show clearly something that they are not. They don’t care about the North of England."

Ms Dore said: "I feel like I’ve wasted 10 days when it could have been done in 24 hours right at the start – ‘you’re going into Tier 3 and this is the package you’re going to get’.

"I never thought that any government of any persuasion would stoop so low to start bartering with local region and local leaders on what is required to save lives. It’s reprehensible."

The tough new coronavirus measures will come into force on Saturday and will cover around 1.4 million people in Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham, Sheffield and the surrounding areas.

Sheffield's city leaders are meeting with the government to discuss the imposition of Tier 3 measures. Credit: PA

Meanwhile, Tees Valley and Tyneside had been among several regions in negotiations with ministers about introducing the harsher social distancing rules, but they have been put on hold.

However, Covid infection rates in the region are continuing to rise in some parts.

Redcar and Cleveland, Stockton-on-Tees, Darlington, Middlesbrough and Hartlepool in the Tees Valley all saw an increase in their rates of infection per 100,000 residents in the last week, according to Government data.

Numbers have dropped in some boroughs in the Tyneside area, including the city of Newcastle upon Tyne, South Tyneside and North Tyneside.

Haircuts are back on the agenda. Credit: PA

At the same time, talks between the government, Mayor of Sheffield City Region Dan Jarvis and other regional leaders have been taking place since Monday to thrash out a deal on financial support.

Mr Jarvis confirmed on Wednesday that the region will be supported with £11 million for track and trace and £30 million for business support.

The restrictions, due to come in at midnight on Saturday, will mean:

  • pubs and restaurants that do not serve food will close, as well as casino, gaming and soft play venues.

  • Wedding receptions and social interaction inside or in private gardens will be forbidden.

  • Gyms and leisure centres will stay open but classes will not take place.

Announcing the deal on Twitter, Mr Jarvis said: "Our Council leaders and I have secured £41m funding from the Government to support our people and businesses as we move to Tier 3.

"We’ve taken action to protect both lives and livelihoods as pressure increases on our NHS."

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick confirmed the deal on Twitter, adding: "I would like to thank Dan Jarvis and the leaders of the local councils of South Yorkshire for the constructive discussions we have had.

"Given rates are amongst the highest in the country I am pleased that we were able to reach an agreement that ensures swift action is taken in accordance with the public health advice."

He added: "I fully recognise the huge impact this will have on communities in the area and the sacrifices people will be making. That’s why we have agreed an extensive package of support for local people, businesses and councils.

  • ITV News Correspondent Ben Chapman on what Tier 3 means for Sheffield business

"The restrictions agreed together will only be in place for as long as they are absolutely necessary. They will be reviewed jointly in 28 days time. The Government will be working with local leaders as we tackle this challenge, for the benefit of all the people of South Yorkshire."

Health minister Edward Argar said in parliament on Wednesday that action had to be taken in order to stop the spread of the virus in South Yorkshire.

He told the Commons: "We need to act now to prevent the epidemic in South Yorkshire continuing to grow.

"That means that South Yorkshire, so the city of Sheffield, Barnsley, Rotherham and Doncaster, will be moving to the local Covid alert level very high, taking effect at one minute past midnight on Saturday morning."

He added: "We know that some of the measures that I’ve announced today are challenging and will have a real impact on people and businesses in South Yorkshire.

"We will be putting in place substantial support. This includes the job support scheme which ensures those affected by business closures are still paid. Once topped up with Universal Credit, those on low incomes will receive at least 80% of their normal income."

Businesses and workers need 'significantly' more financial support, the leader of Sheffield City Council has said. Credit: PA

The financial deal is said to have been calculated with a formula equating to £8 per head of the regional population for track and trace and £20 per head for business support.

Mr Jenrick told ITV News the same formula was used to calculate the amount offered to Greater Manchester and the total calculated for the region was £58 million and the government offered £60 million.

Covid tiers: - What are the differences between each alert level?

  • Medium (Tier 1) - Rule of six applies indoors and outdoors. Pubs and restaurants close at 10pm.

  • High (Tier 2) - Households must not mix indoors in any setting including pubs and restaurants. Rule of six applies outdoors

  • Very high (Tier 3) - Households must not mix indoors, or in private gardens. Rule of six applies in outdoor spaces including parks. Pubs and bars which don't serve meals will be closed