Shaftesbury’s MP says the Dorset Council area would have been in tier 1 restrictions from next Wednesday if government had not combined our rate of infection with the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council figures.
“It is a wretched nuisance for those of us in the rural part of Dorset,” said Simon Hoare. He has spoken with the relevant minister about separating out the Dorset Council statistics.
Last night Sam Crowe from Public Health Dorset advised that Dorset will not have a Nightingale Hospital, so existing hospital capacity is a key consideration. Hospital admission rates have influenced the tier status. Sam said infection rates in the over 60s, although falling, have been a concern.
The leader of Dorset council, Cllr Spencer Flower, is disappointed. He hopes our area will be re-evaluated and will enter the lowest tier – tier 1 – on 16th December, if residents stick to the rules. But some local businesses feel they’ve done their bit and they’ve seen no reward.
Simon Hoare says the ‘reward’ is fewer deaths in Dorset hospitals, but many pubs had expected to be in tier 1 from Wednesday. The owner of Shaftesbury’s Half Moon Inn and Ludwell’s Grove Arms, Nina Bartlett, says, “It feels like we’ve had our legs cut off and we’re told to run now.” She questions how opening for diners and with restrictions preventing households mixing indoors will be sustainable.
Nina is uncertain how the requirement of a substantial meal will be determined. Andy Francis of Angola 76 is also unclear of that definition. But Simon Hoare says the government website is clear.
Some local pubs, like Motcombe’s Coppleridge Inn and Shaftesbury’s Ye Old Two Brewers, are taking time to determine how they will respond to the unexpected restrictions and whether it’s financially viable to open.