Parts of London have Covid-19 rates far exceeding those in rural Northumberland – but they have avoided a Level 3 lockdown.
With Northumberland’s Covid-19 rate dropping below 200 for the first time this month, some locals believe the county has been trapped in the most cruel categories due to its association with the rest of the Northeast, leaving sparsely populated parts of the country. Northumberland Under tighter restrictions than the densely populated capital.
The Havering area of London saw 342 cases per 100,000 people in the week ending 21 November. And in North Berwick, Northumberland, the most recent rate per 100,000 cases was 21.8 per 100,000 over the past seven days of complete data.
This means that the hospitality business will be forced to close in Berwick – but will be allowed to open in Hovering, where the price is more than 15 times higher.
In general, London has been affected by the Covid-19 virus to a lesser extent than the northeast. The region as a whole had 254 cases per 100,000 over the past week – with 198.9 in Northumberland.
Across the capital as a whole, the figure was 177 cases per 100,000 in the week ending November 21 – less than Northumberland and England as a whole.
But in total, 11 of London’s 32 districts have a higher Covid-19 rate than the entire Northumberland.
On the other hand, the currently hardest-hit ward in Northumberland, Hartley, showed a rate of 634.2 cases per 100,000 in the week ending November 24 – the highest of any area in London.
Although leaders in Northumberland described the higher rating as “disappointing,” they assert that it was right to stay closely tied to the rest of the Northeast, citing regular travel across county boundaries to the rest of the region.
Liz Morgan, Northumberland’s director of public health, said overall county rates were still “very high” and told people that “the collective actions are paying off.”
But some people in the province feel differently.
Georgina Hill is an independent county councilor in Berwick East, which has a rate of just over 82 cases per 100,000 – less than the least affected area of London.
She said, “I am so angry and feeling bad about our businesses, especially the ones in the hospitality industry.”
“I, and others, have been saying from the start how wrong it is for us (LA7) to allow ourselves to be all together.
“The fact that London and Liverpool have been spared from the harshest restrictions also shows that we have been completely let down by our representatives in Parliament. There is no indication that even a proper attempt to fight our corner.”
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But the local leaders emphasized that they made the safer option for the area.
Northumberland County Council Leader Glenn Sanderson said: “As we have said all the time, every day we have large numbers of people who travel in and out of the county and between high and low numbers within the county for work, leisure and education, and that is simply not practical for us to be in a different set of restrictions than Our neighbors are in the northeast.
“While infection rates in Northumberland have decreased dramatically over the past 10 days, they are still very high. It is also important to remember that the move to the very high alert category is not only related to case falls, it is more complicated than that.
“We have to look at the rates in all age groups, especially the elderly. There is a greater proportion in our county, who are more vulnerable to contracting the virus; we have to take into account the pressure on our local hospitals and NHS services.
“Safety has always been prioritized over risk – it is too risky to do otherwise. It was and remains right to work with our neighbors because it has lowered our prices.
“But we are still very high in the county and we need to give this a little more time.”
Newcastle City Council Chairman Nick Forbes LA7 leaders said they had carefully considered whether it was right to join together – and resisted joining together with other areas they didn’t feel fit to be associated with.
He said, “It makes very much sense for LA7 to be subject to the same restrictions, whatever they are, because travel into work patterns, school patterns, retail habits, and people’s movements fall so broadly within LA 7.”
“What the government has tried to do is put us into the same business plan as Tees Valley and the big difference between LA7 and Tees Valley is that our numbers are dropping and their numbers are rising. It is about the review process. “