Boris Johnson urged York to take up mass coronavirus testing at Prime Minister’s Questions this afternoon (Wednesday).
But he gave little hope that the city would escape Tier 2 when the national lockdown ends on 2 December.
Mr Johnson was tackled by York Outer MP Julian Sturdy in the Commons.
Mr Sturdy asked him: “With yesterday’s positive news on the Covid vaccine and the roll-out of mass testing, and as York’s virus figures continue to fall well below the level at which we were put into Tier 2, can the Prime Minister give York some hope to sustain our great city, by clearly outlining the criteria under which we can escape immediately into tier 1 from the 2nd of December?
“And will he also urge York Council to take up the government’s offer of mass testing?”
‘City has made sacrifices’
The PM replied: “I urge York council and councils across the land to take up this offer of mass lateral flow testing. I think it’s a very, very exciting possibility…
“It’s one of the boxing gloves we seek to wield to pummel this disease into submission. The other is the prospect of a vaccine, and that is what we will do continuously throughout the weeks and months ahead.
“But I must stress that the way to get ourselves in the best position to achieve that is to make these current restrictions work, so we can come out well, back into the tiers on December 2.”
The government has written to every local authority offering to make available new lateral flow tests like those trialled in a mass Covid testing pilot in Liverpool.
City of York Council say they want to learn more before committing.
Mr Sturdy said afterwards: “As someone who only voted reluctantly for this month’s renewed lockdown on the basis it was a strictly time-limited measure, I thought it was essential to tell the Prime Minister that York must return to the relative normality of Tier 1 when the new national restrictions expire next month.
“York residents have made serious sacrifices to get our virus rate significantly below where it was when we were escalated from tier 1 to 2 pre-new lockdown, and the government has to demonstrate that the community’s resilience and self-denial will be rewarded.
“Our local economy also cannot afford a renewed period of tier 2 limbo, with the household mixing ban devastating trade.
“I also hope our city’s public health team heed the Prime Minister’s words, and proceed rapidly with their plans to introduce 15-minute lateral flow tests into York.
“I appreciate the huge effort they are already putting in, but the opportunity to return towards normality offered by quick localised mass testing has to be seized with both hands.”