Kent to enter highest Covid tier when lockdown ends

Video report by ITV News Meridian's Kit Bradshaw

Kent and Medway will move into the highest Covid tier when lockdown ends in England on December 2, following a spike in coronavirus infections.

It is the only area in the South East to move into Tier 3, with the rest of the region moving into Tier 2, apart from the Isle of Wight which will move into Tier 1.

The government will review the tiers on December 16.

Thanet and Swale in Kent have the highest infection rates in England.

However, there's some anger in other parts of the county as despite low infection rates in towns like Ashford and Tunbridge Wells, they too have been placed in the highest tier.

One restaurant owner in Ashford says they are going to have to cancel lots of Christmas bookings leaving a financial hole in the business.

It's a big problem for us because December is our busiest month in the year. Looking at the hospitals and all the surrounding areas we are quite low here. I know a few parts of Kent have been quite high, so thats why we've been put in the same pot. But I'm really disappointed.

Jeeb Pandey, Restaurateur

Tory MPs in Kent had lobbied the Prime Minister to not impose county-wide restrictions due to variations in case numbers.

“We must allow businesses to prosper and not be held back by restrictions not suitable for their area,” the group including former ministers Greg Clark, Damian Green and Tracey Crouch said.

Mr Green suggested that “unfair” restrictions will “not be respected or obeyed”.

Restaurateur in Ashford watching the Government Covid tier announcement. Credit: ITV News Meridian

Responding to the news that Kent will move into Tier 3, the leader of Medway Council, Cllr Alan Jarrett, said it was "disappointing" for residents and affected businesses but the restrictions were "necessary".

I understand how disappointing and concerning this news will be for residents and affected businesses, especially following a month-long lockdown. However, these restrictions are absolutely necessary to help slow the spread of this deadly virus which has already taken too many lives.

Cllr Alan Jarrett, Leader, Medway Council

Between November 13 and November 20, Medway saw 1,161 new cases of Covid-19.

Since the beginning of the pandemic 216 people have died in Medway from the virus.One cafe owner in Sittingbourne says she agrees they should close but she will not be taking up the option of a takeaway service.

Nearly 60,000 people to lose is a big number. It's really really serious. So for the health and happiness of our customers and everyone and indeed my staff and indeed myself, I think we do need to be closed.

Joanne Povey, Cafe co-owner

The tier categories have been tightened from the restrictions put in place in the autumn after government scientific advisers warned the previous measures had not been effective enough at controlling the virus.