Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s message for Stoke-on-Trent as he refuses to rule out placing city in toughest tier


MPs have pleaded with the Prime Minister not to put Stoke-on-Trent under the toughest restrictions next month as its coronavirus rates are now falling.

Boris Johnson refused to be drawn on whether the city will be placed in Tier 3 when the Government makes its announcement this Thursday.

But he urged Potteries residents to ‘get a test to kick Covid out’ as he said mass testing was a key way to reduce the infection rate. He also thanked people in the city for their ‘hard work’ during difficult times.

Stoke-on-Trent North MP Jonathan Gullis raised the issue as the Prime Minister delivered a statement to Parliament yesterday (Monday).

He said: “While Stoke-on-Trent may be a small city, it is a mighty one.

Stoke-on-Trent North MP Jonathan Gullis

“Having removed itself from Government attention over rising coronavirus figures twice this year, the city is once again showing its hardy spirit in pushing down case rates during the second wave by 100 per 100,000 cases in the last week.”

Mr Gullis asked the Government to allow Stoke-on-Trent to return to Tier 2 following the end of the month-long lockdown on December 2.

His words were echoed by Stoke-on-Trent South MP Jack Brereton, who said: “We have seen huge efforts across Stoke-on-Trent to get Covid rates down. The city council has done an excellent job of rolling out testing and rates are now falling locally.”

The pressure comes as Stoke-on-Trent City Council leader Abi Brown has also written to ministers to tell them the city’s ‘proactive’ approach is starting to ‘reap dividends’.

Steps have included using a local contact tracing team to support people who need to self-isolate, setting up testing centres in leisure centres and enforcing the rules with local businesses.

In her letter, Mrs Brown said: “We understand there is a fine balance to strike between the economy and public health, but within this city, we know what we are doing and we need Government to support us, not to penalise us at this time.”

Responding via videolink in Parliament, Mr Johnson told the MPs the decision to allocate areas to tiers depended on a number of factors. He said he ‘couldn’t say’ at this stage which tier Stoke-on-Trent would be placed in.

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He added: “The incidence of the virus is still high, and we have to face that grim, grim truth, I am afraid.

“But the hope is there that, with mass testing – and the people of Stoke-on-Trent can do this if they choose – you can drive down the incidence, you can drive down the R, you can find the asymptomatic positives and you can reduce the virus in your area.”

Newcastle MP Aaron Bell also got to quiz Mr Johnson during the statement.

And he highlighted how Keele-based Cobra Biologics was playing a vital role in helping to manufacture the Covid vaccine being developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca.

Mr Johnson said he wanted to ‘profoundly’ thank the company for what it has been doing.





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