York MP opposes York Tier 2 decision – and demands Health Secretary publish a path back to Tier 1

Julian Sturdy in the Commons. Photograph: Screengrab

Conservative MP Julian Sturdy says he is opposed to York being placed into Tier 2 – and has challenged the health secretary over the decision.

The MP for York Outer asked Matt Hancock: “As the government continues to impose further unprecedented restrictions on people’s freedoms, it’s important to give people hope and justification.

“So as York’s Covid rate continues to fall, and is the lowest in Yorkshire, can the Secretary of State outline how we can get to tier 1 baseline as fast as possible – and will he publish the assessment and the data under which York was placed into tier 2,  so we can best judge how to get to tier 1.

“And when he talks about regular reviews, can I say a weekly review would be much more desirable.”

The health secretary told the MP that there would be weekly reviews, and more regularly than weekly if necessary. He said the data and an explanation for the placement of each area would be published, and that more data would be forthcoming.

He added that York’s tier 2 status reflected the need to bring down higher covid rates across North Yorkshire.

Mr Sturdy pointed out that York’s virus rate is now down to 132 per 100,000, the lowest in all Yorkshire, an enormous fall from the 279 it was when the original tier 2 was imposed in October.

Later he said: “I am very disappointed by this morning’s decision that York will go into tier 2 from 2 December.

“Besides the alarming economic impact on our large local hospitality, leisure and retail sector, I have serious concerns that without a rapid move towards tier 1, we risk undermining local morale, as the self-discipline that has got us to the lowest virus rate in Yorkshire seems not to yield a relaxation in restrictions, because of higher rates in the rest of the county.

“I was a little reassured by Matt Hancock’s answer to me that reviews to positions will be weekly, or even more regularly than that, and the assessment on which York’s placing was decided is being made publicly available. I am following up on this immediately.

“I am particularly concerned about what tier 2 would mean for pubs that do not provide ‘substantial meals’, and cannot therefore serve alcohol under the new rules, and have already written to the health secretary on this, firmly requesting a review so venues that don’t do food can serve alcohol as under the old tier 2.

And he warned he could vote against the government. “If my serious reservations are not addressed, I will struggle to support the government in votes on the new tiered system.”