This week saw Birmingham go into Tier 2 (high) on the government's new alert system, and with it, changes to some of our local restrictions (more on that below).
While the introduction of local restrictions should be welcomed where they are needed to curb the spread of Covid-19, the restrictions must be evidence-based and the rationale must be clear to local people.
However, my inbox and postbag has been filled this week with constituents who are confused as to why the current restrictions are being replaced, with the introduction of bans on mixing in hospitality venues and the loosening of restrictions in private gardens, when the evidence locally suggests that transmission in our city is occurring in household not hospitality settings.
Pubs and bars in Birmingham are on the brink. They have been hit hard by restrictions and without the economic support needed to cushion the blow. Instead of washing its hands of the industry, the government needs to take urgent action to stop businesses going bust and many more jobs being lost.
New Birmingham restrictions in full
1. You must not mix with anybody outside of your household or support bubble in any indoor setting, whether at home or in a public place like a pub, bar or restaurant
2. You must not socialise in a group of more than six outside, including in a garden or other spaces like beaches or parks (other than where specific exemptions apply in law)
3. Businesses and venues can continue to operate, in a Covid-secure manner, other than those that remain closed in law
4. Certain businesses are required to ensure customers only consume food and drink while seated, and must close between 10pm and 5am
5. Businesses and venues selling food for consumption off the premises can continue to do so after 10pm as long as this is through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-through
6. Schools, universities and places of worship remain open
7. Weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of attendees
8. Exercise classes and organised sport can continue to take place outdoors. These will only be permitted indoors if it is possible for people to avoid mixing with people they do not live with or share a support bubble with, or for youth or disability sport
9. You can continue to travel to venues or amenities that are open, for work or to access education, but should look to reduce the number of journeys you make where possible
10. Entertainment and tourist attractions remain open, except for nightclubs
Join us for the Birmingham Cladding Scandal Summit
Over three years since the Grenfell fire tragedy, and thousands of people in Birmingham are still living in buildings with dangerous flammable cladding on their walls.
People don’t feel safe in their homes, are paying exorbitant fees for stopgap fire safety measures, and cannot move home while banks deem their flats as worthless. And to top it off, the government wants leaseholders to pick up the tab for remedial works, at a cost of up to £78,000 per head. That's not right, and something must be done.
Join me, Mike Amesbury, Labour's Housing Minister, Shabana Mahmood and Birmingham MPs for our cladding summit next Thursday, 6:30-8pm where you will hear from residents affected by the cladding scandal in Birmingham as they put their questions to Lord Greenhalgh, Minister for Building Safety and Communities.
On Sunday, I told BBC Politics Midlands why we must legislate to ensure our high food and farming standards are protected in law, ahead of the Agriculture Bill coming back to the House of Commons on Monday.
Sadly, the Tories voted against Labour’s amendments to the Agriculture Bill which would have protected UK food standards. The Conservatives have yet again broken their promise to British farmers and the public.
Air pollution contributes to 1,000 premature deaths a year in the West Midlands
On the show I also discussed the illegal air quality that 60% of us are living with in the UK, which is contributing to around 1,000 premature deaths each year in the West Midlands alone.
That's why I am pleased that Birmingham is committed to launching the government-mandated Clean Air Zone in 2021 to tackle this very real public health risk.
Birmingham City Council is offering a range of exemptions and a £35m package of financial incentives to help individuals and businesses upgrade their vehicles so they do not need to pay the daily charges.