Town hall leader urges public to stay home at Christmas

Barking and Dagenham Council leader Darren Rodwell

Barking and Dagenham Council leader Darren Rodwell has urged people to follow Tier 4 restrictions. - Credit: Andrew Brookes

The leader of the council has urged people to follow the new Tier 4 restrictions.

Barking and Dagenham Council leader, Cllr Darren Rodwell, was speaking after prime minister Boris Johnson announced on Saturday, December 19 that the capital, eastern and south-east England would move into a new Tier 4 for two weeks.

Cllr Rodwell, after describing the news as "heart breaking", said: "Although I support the steps the government is taking, it comes at the eleventh hour despite stark warnings from Public Health England, London Councils, and the Mayor for London.

"We all knew infection rates were rising sharply, particularly in London and the south east, and that the lockdown introduced earlier in the month had not worked. That is why we called for a circuit breaker."

Transport secretary, Grant Shapps, said on BBC Breakfast today (December 21) that the government could not have acted faster after scientists reported a problem last Friday.

The move to Tier 4 came after scientists warned of the rapid spread of a new variant of coronavirus.

The prime minister announced that from Sunday areas in the south east of England currently in Tier 3 will be moved into Tier 4 for two weeks - effectively returning to the lockdown rules of November.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson

Prime minister Boris Johnson announces that from Sunday (December 20) areas in the south east, including the capital, currently in Tier 3 will be moved into a new Tier 4, effectively returning to the lockdown rules of November. - Credit: Toby Melville/PA Wire

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At a No 10 news conference, Mr Johnson said he was taking the actions with a "heavy heart", but the scientific evidence - suggesting the new strain was up to 70 per cent more transmissible - left him with no choice.

READ MORE: Christmas plans cancelled as east London moves into Tier 4

Cllr Rodwell said: "Many people have been confused by the government’s messages, and it is clear the tier system has not worked.

"Everyone had plans in place for Christmas and this will make things worse. Nonetheless, as the leader of the council I must do what is right by the borough.

"I know it is difficult, but I would urge residents to follow the advice of remaining at home and only travel when it is essential to do so.

"The roll out of a vaccine brings hope for the new year. But for now, the best Christmas present you can give your loved ones is to see them in 2021," Cllr Rodwell added.

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