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The leader of Basildon Council has reacted angrily to the announcement that Basildon, along with most of Essex will move into Tier 3 (very high level) restrictions from Wednesday December 16.
Councillor Gavin Callaghan said: “This never needed to happen. We knew three weeks ago that our R rates across Essex were going in the wrong direction. I called for schools to be closed early – I called for workplace testing to be introduced, and we ended up with dithering and procrastination from the Government and Essex County Council. I know that it took from the 26th November until the 8thDecember to get LFT testing up and running and the tests haven’t been targeted in the right areas.
“Tier 3 restrictions will devastate our hospitality businesses at their busiest time of the year and is unfair when the science has been telling us for weeks that they are not the cause of our high infection rates.
“To put us in Tier 3 on Wednesday will certainly lower the chances of our already struggling hospitality businesses of surviving and leave their employees in financial hardship at the most challenging monetary time of the year for families. This time of year people are taking home more money in tips and overtime then they may earn in any other weeks of the year. The Government needs to ensure that already low paid workers are not put into further significant financial hardship.
“I’m frustrated for our businesses and I’m devastated for our residents – our borough has been let down by the government and Essex County Council.
“It is going to be a confusing week for people now. I’m already getting questions from residents asking what they can and can’t do whilst in Tier 3 over Christmas and how this affects their plans for Christmas. The Secretary of State needs to clarify what the impact will be for Christmas plans and quickly.
“And this isn’t just a Basildon issue. Basildon is the biggest economy on the Thames Estuary after Canary Wharf. People travel from far and wide to work here every single day. I’ve warned that if the biggest economy in Essex was left to rot, it would have a knock on effect across Essex and East London and so it has proven. The announcement today shows how our rates across Essex have risen exponentially in places like Thurrock, Rochford and Braintree. This could have been avoided.
“I once again ask our residents in Basildon and across Essex to please follow the rules, and do the right thing to protect your families this Christmas.”