Birmingham has been added to the Government’s coronavirus watchlist.
The city has today been named as an “area of enhanced support” while Sandwell remains on the list, having featured previously.
The move does not mean Birmingham will go into a lockdown however it will come under increased scrutiny from officials as they assess whether cases in the city are rising at an unsafe level.
Being added to the watchlist will create even greater uncertainty for businesses, particularly in sectors such as hospitality, retail and beauty, after spending recent weeks acclimatising to the new covid-safe working practices and procedures.
An area of enhanced support is defined as those at medium or high risk of intervention where there is a more detailed plan, agreed with the national team and with additional resources being provided to support local teams.
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The number of cases of covid-19 is on the increase in Birmingham, with 30.2 cases per 100,000 and the percentage of people testing positive up to 4.3 per cent.
More than half of cases diagnosed in the past week have been within the 18 to 34 age bracket.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “To prevent a second peak and keep covid-19 under control, we need robust, targeted intervention where we see a spike in cases.
“The only way we can keep on top of this deadly virus is through decisive action led by the people who know their areas best, wherever possible through consensus with a local area.
“Our approach is to make the action we take as targeted as possible, with the maximum possible local consensus.
“Local leaders and the Government have therefore agreed initially to make Birmingham an area of enhanced support, meaning the area will benefit from additional testing, locally led contract tracing and targeted community engagement.
“Further discussions with local leaders are taking place to understand what additional measures should be taken to help manage the outbreak.”
Mr Hancock is due to meet with West Midlands Mayor Andy Street to discuss the matter further.
Mr Street said: “The number of new infections are on a worrying trend in Birmingham and I fully support the Government’s decision to put the city on its national watchlist to help tackle the outbreak.
“We are now clearly at the stage where additional government assistance is needed to help get a grip of the virus in the city.
“People across the region have made an enormous sacrifice since the start of lockdown to keep the virus at bay but it is now returning and recent efforts to counter that have been insufficient.
“It is evidence that some people have not been strict enough when it comes to keeping up the basics of social distancing, hand washing and wearing a face covering, nor following the guidelines on avoiding mass gatherings.”