Havering and Redbridge public health chiefs at odds over suitability of Tier 2 decision

Redbridge’s director of public health said Tier 2 “is probably the correct category” for the borough despite high COVID infection rates.

It was announced on November 26 that all of London would step down to Tier 2 when the national lockdown ends on December 2.

This means the city is on “high alert” and residents should not meet in more than groups of six or socialise indoors outside of their bubble.

While Redbridge director of public health Gladys Xavier supported the move, Havering director of public health Mark Ansell raised concerns it might not be strict enough.

Speaking at a Havering Health and Wellbeing Board meeting on November 25, he said: “Our experience is that our rates increased well into Tier 2.

“It is only now, while in lockdown, that our rates have started to show signs of improvement. We need stronger measures than what was Tier 2 to contain COVID.

“The work from home message probably does not apply to many Havering residents. There’s probably an increased footfall into the borough because people are not going into town.

“We are going to need some additional interventions. The limiting factor will be the resources that we are given.”

Speaking today, Redbridge director of public health Gladys Xavier said Tier 2 was “probably the correct category for Redbridge at this time”.

She added: “The crucial thing now is that people are not complacent and think that things are nearing normal once again.

“In Redbridge, we are still seeing the highest level of transmission of COVID-19 in households.

“With that in mind, please remember there should be no mixing of households indoors, apart from support bubbles, and there should be no more than a maximum of six people together outdoors.”

A spokesperson for Waltham Forest Council, who are dealing with lower rates of COVID infection, said that despite lockdown ending, the threat “remains significant”.

They said: “We have been working hard to keep residents safe, handing out more than 22,000 face masks and launching our 12 commitments to local people and businesses.

“It is important to remember that the threat to the borough from COVID-19 remains significant and we must all do everything we can to protect ourselves and others.

“Residents should stick to the new restrictions, such as not mixing with other households indoors, when they come into force.”

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Victoria Munro

Local Democracy Reporter