PEOPLE in Carlisle have been urged to play their part in combatting coronavirus in a bid to avoid the city being plunged into strict tier two restrictions which “couldn’t come at a worse time.”

The stark warning came after Cumbria’s director of public health, Colin Cox, confirmed that his department was discussing with the Government the benefits of moving Carlisle into tier two as the city’s cases go in the wrong direction.

New cases in the city soared last week by 118 per cent, up to 190 from 87 the previous week, as the week up to October 22 saw the highest number of new cases recorded in Cumbria since the start of the pandemic.

The number of cases per 100,000 in Carlisle was 228.2 for the same period, ranking Carlisle second in the county behind only Barrow – which is on 271.4 and has already been placed under tier two restrictions.

Next is Eden on 204.7, South Lakeland has 140.8 Copeland sits on 121.7 and Allerdale is at 83.9.

England’s cases per 100,000 is at 217.1, while nearby Lancaster is in tier three restrictions on 385.5 and Leeds and Manchester are both in tier two on 420.7 and 498.1 respectively.

Following last week’s significant rise in coronavirus cases, local leaders in Carlisle are reminding residents to keep playing their part in the fight against Covid-19 in a bid to avoid the city having to be plunged into a stricter lockdown.

With fears heightening, Rob Johnston, chief executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, said: “As it stands, there’s a danger that we’ll drift into onerous Covid restrictions just as businesses enter the crucial pre-Christmas trading period. The timing couldn’t be worse.”

Carlisle is currently in the government’s ‘Medium’ Local Covid Alert Level, or ‘tier one’.

“Chambers wrote to the Prime Minister just over a week ago to say that improving the Test and Trace system is the only way to get a grip on the virus,” Mr Johnston added.

“We need to see a clear strategy from the Government to keep the economy functioning while protecting public health.”

Councillor Deborah Earl, Cumbria County Council’s cabinet member for public health and communities, said: “While we wait to see this week’s case numbers we’re encouraging residents to do their bit to stop coronavirus spreading.

“Further spread is not only harmful, it could lead to increased measures from the government, something we don’t want and hopefully we can prevent together.

“We’re asking residents to continue to protect their communities and follow the guidance by reducing social contact and remembering the rule of six, washing hands and wearing face coverings if you can.”

Carlisle City councillor Elizabeth Mallinson, portfolio holder for health and wellbeing said: “We need to be vigilant and stick to the public health advice.

"We don’t want to see our city and district go into heightened restrictions. This would impact on our isolated residents, would result in less freedom of movement and could hit our economy hard.

"We urge local families to help protect our communities and minimise the risk of potential lockdowns. Acting now means we can prevent hospital admissions rising in the coming weeks.”

Carlisle City Centre Business Group chairman and owner of Bookends Steve Matthews believes he’s already seen a shift in the behaviour of consumers and businesses starting to take more precautions in the last two weeks as people look to act.

“It is something we have got to deal with, but it is the biggest threat we have ever faced in terms of high street businesses,” he added.