STRATFORD MP Nadhim Zahawi says he is hopeful Warwickshire will be moved from Tier 3 before Christmas.
In a response to floods of letters from businesses impacted by the unexpected move to place the county in most restrictive tier, the MP confirmed Warwickshire will be ‘reassessed alone’ in mid-December.
It comes after county leaders, including Stratford District Council which threatened legal action against the government’s decision, argued cases in south Warwickshire were reducing significantly, with figures much lower than some areas in Tier 2.
The MP – who was recently appointed vaccine rollout minister – said he had urged Health Secretary Matt Hancock that Warwickshire should be considered as a county alone, and not in conjunction with Coventry and Solihull.
In Stratford district, the number of cases have dropped to 66 in the last week, and to 151 in Warwick district. Meanwhile, the number has fallen to 319 in the Solihull borough, and 539 in Coventry.
Following the decision to place the county in Tier 3, concerns grew among hospitality and tourism businesses in Stratford district, over their chances of survival.
In a letter to Mr Zahawi, Flair Gougoulia, who owns Greek restaurant El Greco explained how they had adapted and made sacrifices, only to find themselves with floods of cancellations and little hope the venue would be able to open at all before Christmas day.
Mr Zahawi praised Ms Gougoulia and her team for their efforts to adapt to the ever-changing circumstances.
He wrote: “I fully understand how prodigious a task it has been to get through the year. I therefore have so much admiration for the ways in which you have adapted and redesigned your business to these ever-changing circumstances, whilst keeping on all your staff and supporting local suppliers. All of this compounds the Tier 3 news into an even harder blow and I therefore fully appreciate your calls for further support from the treasury beyond what has already been provided.
“We now need to urgently work to get Warwickshire out of Tier 3 as soon as realistically possible. Having spoken to Izzi Seccombe at Warwickshire County Council and my fellow Warwickshire MPs, we are all in agreement Warwickshire should be considered as a county alone in all future decisions about restrictions, and not in conjunction with Coventry and Solihull where infections and pressures appear to be higher. I made this clear to the health secretary when speaking to him last week, and I am pleased that Izzi has now received confirmation that Warwickshire’s tier will be reassessed alone in mid-December.
“We have also pushed for community, lateral-flow testing to be rolled out in the north of the county where infections are worse, and I welcome the news that this will shortly be commencing in north Warwickshire. As the situation in Liverpool proved, this is a highly effective way of suppressing the infection. I therefore remain hopeful Warwickshire can be unshackled from Tier 3 before Christmas and I will continue pushing for this to happen as soon as possible along with, I have no doubt, all council leaders and MPs across the county.”