Bristol adds to confusion as city invents new ‘tier 1 plus’

Composite image Bristol
The new restrictions include Covid marshals patrolling the streets

Bristol has moved itself into a new coronavirus alert level it called ‘tier 1 plus’, despite the Government saying it doesn’t exist.

Its mayor Martin Rees said targeted actions were needed to ‘stem the spread’ of coronavirus in the city, which has seen cases soar in the past week.

The new restrictions will mean tighter enforcement, more local control over test and trace and an introduction of Covid marshals to patrol the streets.

But the Government has insisted it is not introducing a ‘plus’ system and that the three tiers are ‘enshrined in law’.

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‘There are three Local Covid Alert Levels which are enshrined in law and we are not considering the introduction of a “plus” system,’ a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said.

‘Bristol is currently at medium and local leaders have the authority to bring in some additional measures for their area and we welcome local efforts to break chains of transmission.’

The approach has been developed locally and Bristol is the first to use it, with the rest of the country continuing to fall under the three normal tiers.

Bristol, which is currently under tier one restrictions, has a rate of 340.7 new cases per 100,000, which is above the average for England.

The changing face of the high street. Signage outside a greengrocers advising shoppers to wear face coverings, on the High Street in Henleaze, Bristol, some six months on from the evening of March 23 when Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced nationwide restrictions. PA Photo. Issue date: Wednesday September 23, 2020. See PA story HEALTH Coronavirus. Photo credit should read: Ben Birchall/PA Wire
Bristol is currently in tier one, which has the lightest restrictions (Picture: PA)

Mr Rees said the ‘tier one plus approach’ was to ‘remain in tier one, but taking some targeted interventions, actions to influence people’s behaviour and stem the spread of the virus’.

What is tier one plus?

The Mayor said tier one involves three parts: using data to provide messages on how to safely use public spaces, taking on parts of Test and Trace, and ensuring compliance.

He said eight Covid marshals will be introduced, whose work will include cleaning touch points, directing pedestrians, helping businesses manage queues and offering guidance to the night-time economy.

As well as that, deeper analytic work will help identify the ‘rising tides of cases’, while the city council will take on ‘further powers’ of its local test and trace service.

People in Bristol wearing masks to do their shopping
Local leaders in Bristol have introduced new restrictions dubbed ‘tier one plus’ (Picture: SWNS)

Mr Rees said: ‘Any further actions will be based on what we’re seeing locally, and through discussion with our local partners across the city and central Government.’

He added a local test and trace system was needed because ‘we’ve been reliant on the national system that has not worked as well as we would like’.

He said that if the new measures did not have an impact then the ‘inevitable alternative’ was ‘the prospects of tiers two and three.’

Analysis by the PA news agency found that Bristol’s transmission rate is significantly higher than that of other regions when they were plunged into tier two. Under that lockdown level, households are banned from mixing in any indoor setting.

Mr Rees said the situation was developing ‘incredibly quickly’ and that it could be a ‘matter of days’ before a decision had to be made on moving into a different tier.

Director of public health for Bristol Christina Gray said the city was in a ‘very critical place’ and that it would take around two to three weeks for the effects of the intervention to be seen.

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Bristol – Metro