CORONAVIRUS is a ‘genuine threat to the borough’, warn council bosses, as Barnsley has been named as an area of concern following new coronavirus restrictions imposed this week.

On Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson made the announcement that a three-tier approach to the virus would come into effect on Wednesday.

The tiers are categorised based on the number of recorded cases in counties across the country - with tier one being the most ‘relaxed’ and counties classed as tier three entering into a local lockdown.

It was announced that South Yorkshire, and therefore Barnsley, would fall under tier two restrictions which means that residents will not be able to meet with anyone outside their household or support bubble in an indoor setting, must not meet in a group of more than six in outdoor spaces, and aim to reduce the number of journeys they make where possible.

Recorded coronavirus cases across the borough have risen by 251 in the past week, to 557, with the rate now 320 per 100,000 people.

Council leader Sir Steve Houghton said residents must work to adhere to the new rules to avoid tougher restrictions being imposed on the town.

“The government has announced that Barnsley is in the second tier of its risk analysis.” he said.

“That means there’s going to be more restrictions on us to make sure we can get the levels of the virus down.

“This is serious - coronavirus and, more importantly its transmission, are a genuine threat in our borough.

“If the rates continue to rise, there’s no doubt that the government will impose more, extreme measures on our borough, and we all want to avoid this at all costs.

“That means more track and tracing, more testing, more working with businesses to make sure that everything is as safe as possible. But in the end it comes down to individual people.

“So far, Barnsley’s people have been great but we’ve got to still be vigilant, we’ve got to step that up even more now to make sure that we don’t get into even more restrictive practises, as some areas of the country have unfortunately had to do.

“Please follow the guidelines, please follow the rules, be vigilant, keep safe and let’s do everything we can to make sure that Barnsley is safe.”

Businesses in Barnsley need a clear ‘exit strategy’ before the local economy suffers any further, according to the Barnsley and Rotherham Chamber of Commerce chief executive.

Andrew Denniff bemoaned the lack of consultation with local businesses ahead of the lockdown measures’ announcement.

“Speculation and ‘second-guessing’ have badly eroded trust at a time when clarity and transparency are critical,” he said.

“Local businesses, and indeed our communities, must be more deeply involved in decision-making, so that the real-world consequences for livelihoods are understood.

“The introduction of any further restrictions must go hand-in-hand with the appropriate level of financial support, both now and into the future.

“Above all, businesses need to see an exit strategy to prevent economic paralysis.

“Mass testing, faster processing and proportionate financial support for those forced to self-isolate are crucial to supporting businesses and communities in the months ahead.

“We must now redouble our efforts to keep fighting this virus whilst keeping our economy open and our Chamber with other business groups, will continue to work with our two local authority teams in ensuring as much support is available for our businesses.”