Following news that York is to be moved to tier two on the new three-tier restriction system, just days after the Government initially placed York in tier one, the city’s leaders are calling on the Government to provide urgent and comprehensive financial help to support local efforts to slow the spread of the virus and help businesses.
The Government must now, finally, live up to its promises and deliver a functioning Track and Trace system, engage proactively with local teams and recognise that more urgent financial support is necessary to help residents and businesses who are doing their very best to keep our city and each other safe.
Cllr Keith Aspden, Liberal Democrat Leader of the City of York Council, commented:
“The Council has provided as much support as possible over what has been an extremely difficult and challenging year for residents and businesses. It is time for the Government to provide the promised financial support for local authorities, who, despite facing a major financial challenge, continue to provide vital services and support local communities and businesses.
“It has been deeply frustrating that the excellent work being done locally by our Public Health teams is being hampered by the Government. A robust test, trace and isolate system remains essential to keep people safe, as the current system continues to fall short of expectations. Additional testing capacity and more timely reporting of results as well as additional resources to analyse data and support localised Track and Trace are urgently needed if we are to stop the spread of the virus.
“As we head into what will be a challenging winter, government must properly engage with local councils to develop a more effective response. This must be a dialogue, not a top-down centralised system, which sees local Public Health teams learn of vital information in leaked social media posts or press conferences.
“I will be writing to the Health Secretary to outline these issues and urge for support to be provided urgently. The government must support residents and businesses who are doing their very best to keep our city and each other safe.”
Cllr Andrew Waller, Executive Member for Economy and Strategic planning, added:
“Throughout the last few months the Council has acted swiftly to support businesses and residents in this difficult time. With the Government failing to provide adequate financial support to local authorities, urgent comprehensive support must be delivered to support employment and businesses who will be hit hard by the loss in income due to enhanced public health measures, particularly those in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors.
“Businesses in York have innovated and adapted to remain safe and welcoming for residents and visitors, but the threat of Coronavirus has not gone away and so we all need to continue to work together to protect our health, our economy and our city.
“With the latest Job Support Scheme offering just a third of the support given to businesses nationally during the first lockdown, urgent action must be taken to help workers and businesses who will see their income drop as a result of further public health restrictions.
“Enhanced public health restriction measures must be accompanied by comprehensive government support to minimise the damage to business and save the livelihoods of millions of people across the city and the region.
“We will continue to work with the city’s businesses and partners to ensure that all is done to protect livelihoods and jobs people across York. In turn, the Government must step up and introduce a comprehensive support package to aid the Council’s efforts in retaining employment in the city and supporting businesses across all sectors.”