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What Essex moving to tighter Tier 2 coronavirus restrictions means for Suffolk

While Essex moving to 'Tier 2' coronavirus restrictions this weekend will only have an immediate impact on those living in the county, it will also affect people close to the border in Suffolk .

Here we try to answer some of the bigger questions that the announcement has flagged up.

Will Suffolk follow?

Masks must be worn on public transport (40843852)
Masks must be worn on public transport (40843852)

The numbers suggest while cases of coronavirus in Suffolk remain relatively low, they are increasing.

And we learned this week that the rate of infection from coronavirus in the East of England is currently the joint highest in the country .

The region's 'R' number - which estimates the number of people an infected person will pass the virus on to - currently stands between 1.3 and 1.6, the same as the South West of the country.

In the week up until October 13, 239 new cases of coronavirus were recorded in Suffolk.

The rate of new weekly cases in the county is on the rise and is currently at 44.3 cases per 100,000 people.

However, this is below the rates for both the East of England, where the rate is 65.46 per 100,000, and England as a whole, which has a rate of 158.32 per 100,000.

And Suffolk's director of public health, Stuart Keeble has confirmed there are no 'immediate' plans to seek any change in the county's current Covid status .

Stuart Keeble, Suffolk director of public health
Stuart Keeble, Suffolk director of public health

Mr Keeble said: “The situation is kept under review, based on the changes we see in case numbers day to day and week to week."

He urged residents to follow guidelines and restrictions in order to keep the number of positive cases in the county low.

“To ensure we are able to maintain a relatively low number of positive cases in Suffolk we all really need to stick with the applied national guidance and local arrangements," he said.

"We need to ensure we continue to clean our hands thoroughly, wear face coverings where guided to do so and maintain social distancing where it is in place. If we continue to keep to these straight-forward measures we can reduce the risk of spreading the symptoms.”

So, it seems unlikely the county will shed its 'medium risk' (Tier 1) status in the immediate future.

It is clear, however, that the situation is developing rapidly. While for now Suffolk seems safe, we have seen across the course of the pandemic it may simply be a case of being weeks or even days behind other parts of the country.

The areas where coronavirus has increased by the greatest rate are shown in dark brown on the right. Picture: Department of Health and Social Care (42739063)
The areas where coronavirus has increased by the greatest rate are shown in dark brown on the right. Picture: Department of Health and Social Care (42739063)

Where does Suffolk finish and Essex start?

Of course, you will know whether you live in a Suffolk district or an Essex one.

What makes it more complicated is that the border between Suffolk and Essex dissects communities.

In terms of advice this does not change anything but as officials have pointed out, it makes sense to bear the new restrictions in mind.

The border between Suffolk and Essex. Picture: Google Maps (42739118)
The border between Suffolk and Essex. Picture: Google Maps (42739118)

What if I live near Essex?

There will be residents in the Haverhill and Sudbury areas living across the road from Essex and, as we know, Covid-19 doesn't respect borders.

By the letter of the law if a Suffolk council collects your bins then obviously you are subject to the rules in the county and therefore are still living in a Tier 1 area.

What if I commute to Essex?

There'll be hundreds of commuters across the county.

For many working from home has been a reality since March.

For many others it is not possible or you've still been travelling to your workplace now and again.

Under Tier 2 restrictions there is no advice on commuting per se but the government is recommending you avoid public transport where possible.

As it was already the case that people were being advised to work from home where possible this shouldn't change your daily routine.

I'm meant to be seeing family and friends in Essex this weekend - now what?

If you live in Suffolk and were planning a trip to Essex the chances are you're now a bit confused.

The new rules mean unless you are in a 'support bubble' - part of the extended household - you cannot see people living in Essex in their homes, the pub or a restaurant etc...

You can meet up outside as the Rule of Six is still in place for places like parks.

So if you are planning to see five mates for a pint in a pub in Colchester then you will have to cancel this trip.

But if you are planning to have a picnic with five mates outdoors in Colchester that's allowed.

The advice regarding public transport obviously still applies.

I'm meant to be seeing family and friends in Suffolk this weekend - now what?

As above you should consider the advice about public transport.

If you live in Braintree and are set to drive to Haverhill for a dinner party with five friends from different households, that is not allowed, unless you were to sit outside.

People from a high risk area should apply the same rules when travelling to a low risk area.

What does Tier 2 mean?

Tier two means household mixing indoors is banned, so many families from Suffolk will no longer be able to travel up to see relatives in their homes.

Tier 2 is the middle level and means there is a 'high risk' of Covid-19.

Under the new rules, those in Essex cannot meet in their homes or venues like pubs and restaurants unless they are part of the same 'support bubble'.

People are advised to avoid public transport but no schools or businesses will be forced to close.

The 'Rule of Six' will continue to apply outdoors, meaning households can mix in parks, while the 10pm curfew on hospitality venues will remain in place.

For more on the rules for each tier, click here

Will the new restrictions impact how much you are able to see family and friends living over the Essex border? Email suffolk@iliffepublishing.co.uk

For the latest coronavirus news and advice, click here

To keep up-to-date with all the latest developments with your local hospitals and other health stories, click here

Read more: All the latest news from Suffolk