It has been confirmed today that Oxford will move to Tier 2 from Saturday. The rest of the county will remain in Tier 1 for now at least. I believe that it is right to assess the risks district by district. Of course it’s true that the virus does not respect local government boundaries but it is also true not every area is seeing the same impact.
It is right to be cautious in dealing with such a huge public health challenge but we should also be cautious about the impacts on the economy, society and our liberty. Even the lowest level of restrictions, "Tier 1" where we are forbidden by law from meeting in groups larger than six and certain businesses are curtailed, would have been unthinkable less than a year ago. Many people now accept these are the "new normal". Necessarily though we may accept them to be in the circumstances these rules are far from normal.
In coming to judgements about the Oxfordshire, or indeed any other local authority area, I entirely respect the differing views on how to tackle the virus and I have great respect for the Director of Public Health who is advising locally but decision makers must always consider the entire picture. I know everyone involved in these decisions does so with the best interests of the community at heart.
As important as any decision to escalate to a higher Tier, is knowing what needs to happen to de-escalate. Of course this is a national & international challenge but whether it is Oxford, Oxfordshire, or any other area, I believe we should know locally how to define the success of any restrictions. At the moment this is lacking in Oxfordshire and if other districts are to join Oxford in Tier 2, this is the minimum that we must ensure is in place.