South Cambs residents can travel to Tier 4 to access supermarkets

Anthony Browne - South Cambs MP. Picture: Stephen Frost

Anthony Browne - South Cambs MP. Picture: Stephen Frost - Credit: Archant

With Royston and surrounding villages straddling two tiers, South Cambridgeshire MP Anthony Browne has reassured residents in Tier 2 that they are allowed to travel to Tier 4 to go to the supermarket.

Following the introduction of stricter Tier 4 measures across Hertfordshire on Saturday, Royston residents are now required to stay at home and not mix with other households over Christmas, while non-essential businesses have been forced to close.

However South Cambs, including Meldreth, Melbourn and Great Chishill, remains in Tier 2, where shops can remain open and households will still be allowed to mix in small bubbles on Christmas Day.

People living in Tiers 1 to 3 have been told not to travel to Tier 4, and vice versa.

However, MP Anthony Browne has offered reassurance that this does not apply to essential trips to supermarkets, saying: "People in South Cambs (in Tier 2) have been asking if they can go to the supermarkets at Royston and Biggleswade (now in Tier 4).

"I have checked with the Government. The answer is: yes, it is permitted. The guidance is not to travel into a Tier 4 area without good reason - and getting food in a supermarket is a good reason. Also, this is guidance only, not in law, so you could not be fined.

"The same applies if you live in a Tier 4 area, and the only reasonable option to get food is in a Tier 2 area. If you’re Tier 4, you may only leave home for select reasons - to go buy food is one of them. But the advice is to stay local and not travel out of Tier 4 area without reasonable excuse. Again, it is guidance not law."

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While this is not spelled out in the government guidelines, Mr Browne stated that it is "common sense" that people living in Bassingbourn, for example, are not banned from their regular shop two minutes away in Royston.

He added: "You should stay local, and only cross into another tier to shop for essential items and only if there are no other reasonable options."

Residents living in Tier 4 are advised to only leave their homes for specific reasons, such as food shopping, medical appointments and exercise outdoors.

Cllr Martin Stears-Handscomb, the leader of North Herts district council, has also responded to the Tier 4 restrictions, which will be reviewed on December 30.

"This has come at a particularly difficult time in the run up to Christmas and we are truly saddened for our residents and those businesses which now have to close.

"We know many people were already choosing to make tough decisions about whether to meet up with an extended bubble over Christmas, but unfortunately this will not now be possible due to the Tier 4 rules, although support bubbles are still allowed.

NHDC's Cllr Martin Stears-Handscomb has issued a warning as coronavirus cases continue to rise. Picture: NHDC

NHDC's Cllr Martin Stears-Handscomb has issued a warning as coronavirus cases continue to rise. Picture: NHDC - Credit: Archant

"While our cases in North Hertfordshire have not been as high as in the south of the county, they are rising rapidly (as much as 61 per cent in one week), and it is now clear that the new variant of the virus is causing a dramatic rise in those catching the virus and becoming seriously ill across the whole of the South East.

"The situation is extremely serious and we have to take even tougher steps to protect ourselves, our loved ones and the NHS. Our thoughts and prayers are with those families in our district who have already lost loved ones and those who are suffering from 'long COVID'.

"We know how much of a blow this announcement will come to our residents and businesses. While it is fantastic that there are vaccines on the way, I cannot stress enough what a critical point this is for our community.

"We must pull together and play our part to stop the spread of the virus. The reality is if we don’t, more of our loved ones will become ill and sadly some will die.

"You have all been fantastic in playing your part this year, please let’s pull together during this next tough period.

"By supporting each other we will get through this. Please stay safe and stay at home."