The Health Secretary has announced a revised tier system across England which will see Dudley borough falling into tier 3 restrictions alongside Sandwell, Birmingham and Wolverhampton.
The plan, which will come into effect from next Wednesday (2nd December) means that hospitality settings, such as bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants must remain closed - but can continue to offer takeaway, click-and-collect, drive-through or delivery services.
You must not meet socially indoors, or in most outdoor places, with anybody you don't live with or who is not in your support bubble. This includes in any private garden or at most outdoor venues. However these rules will be relaxed for five days at Christmas, when up to three households can meet in one extended bubble for five days, between 23rd and 27th December.
Indoor entertainment venues must also close, this includes play centres bowling alleys, cinemas, theatres and concert halls. Leisure and sports facilities may continue to operate but group exercise classes (including fitness and dance) should not go ahead. There should be no public attendance at spectator sport or indoor performances.
Places of worship can remain open, but you must not attend with or socialise with anyone outside of your household or support bubble while you are there. Weddings (but not wedding receptions) and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of attendees; 15 people can attend wedding ceremonies and 30 people can attend funeral ceremonies.
Efforts across the last few months have seen Liverpool - one of the first cities to enter tier three in the previous local restriction - placed in tier 2. The Health Secretary has credited the success of mass testing as a major factor in this decision. Only three areas have been put into tier 1, including the Isle of Wight, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
Dudley borough currently has the highest figures the region, despite seeing a slight reduction over the last 12 days, and residents are being urged to continue to be very careful during and after the national lockdown.
The borough recorded 387 cases per 100,000 in the seven-day period ending the 23 November. This is down from 575 per 100,000 in the seven-day period ending on 14 November. Councillor Patrick Harley, leader of Dudley Council, said:
"Residents and businesses continue to make huge personal and financial sacrifices during the pandemic, and I want to thank everyone for playing their part.
"We know today’s announcement will bring frustration to many people in our borough and I am personally disappointed that the decision does not reflect the substantial reduction in our Covid-19 cases we have seen in recent days.
"I will be urging the government to continually review the situation and stand by their promises to take another look in two weeks’ time. In the meantime it’s vital that we all continue to follow the government restrictions and everyone who can download the Covid-19 app should do so.
"By continuing to take personal and collective action we can help to protect ourselves and our loved ones from the virus and give ourselves the best chance of seeing our nearest and dearest over the Christmas period."
Anyone who is personally or financially affected by pandemic can receive ongoing help and support from the council by calling their dedicated helpline on 0300 3302 152 (Monday to Friday, 9:30am to 12:30pm).
In a bid to soften the blow for tier 3 areas, ministers are promising them access to rapid-result COVID-19 tests to help bring down infections, as well as extra cash being made available to support the local economy.