BARNSLEY will remain in strict tier three restrictions over the Christmas period, health secretary Matt Hancock has confirmed.

Since the start of November, the town’s seven-day coronavirus rate has been on a downward spiral, heading from 556.2 positive cases per 100,000 population at November’s peak to just 136.9 per 100,000 as of December 8.

However, just Bristol and North Somerset moved from tier three to two, with Herefordshire moving from tier two to one.

Mayor of Sheffield City Region Dan Jarvis, who is also the MP for Barnsley Central, said: “I know this decision is absolutely the last thing our communities and businesses wanted to hear, another hammer blow to follow so many others.

“For many of our businesses, these days and weeks are critical to their survival.

“I would reiterate that this decision was taken solely by central government. Once again, Mayors and local leaders have been cut out of the decision-making process and not even afforded the basic courtesy of being consulted, or informed in advance, about this decision.

“These decisions are absolutely crucial to our residents, businesses and communities, but yet again they are being made about us, without us.”