Living on the lockdown borderline

  Posted: 16.10.20 at 10:45 by Joe Burn, Local Democracy Reporter

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The Government has been frequently criticised for what many say are "confusing communications" around coronavirus restrictions since the country first emerged from full lockdown.

And with Monday’s new ‘tier-system’ announced, it hasn’t gotten any clearer.

Especially for those families who find themselves straddling two zones of varying lockdown levels.

Like those in the picturesque village of Mow Cop for example, bisected by the boundary of Cheshire and Staffordshire through its High Street, which runs between Wood Street and Chapel Bank, west of the village’s iconic castle.

Standing on one side of the sloped country lane will see your feet planted firmly in Staffordshire, where the knot unites.

But just a few hops to your left will have you walking in a county famed for its cheese and a fictional cat.

Locals will even tell you of a former pub on High Street that had rooms in both counties, and a later closing time in one part of the pub because of the differing licensing laws of the day.

And on occasion the village’s streets will be treated to a sprinkling of grit from both Cheshire East Council’s highways workers and Staffordshire County Council’s.

As of Wednesday, Cheshire is in ‘Tier 2’ of the new lockdown restrictions meaning indoor visits between households are barred.

Whereas in Tier 1 Staffordshire, if you follow the rule of six, you can meet in someone’s home.

Mow Cop families told the LDRS they were confused but supportive of the new measures.

Dog walkers Jackie and Phil Ector have two daughters who live in Cheshire who they won’t be able to visit now.

Retired teacher Jackie said: “We like to see them regularly but we’ve just got to follow the rules really.
"They’re both teachers so they’re out and about, one was due to visit us this week but they can’t now, that’s just the way it goes.”

And Nicholas Hartley lives just over the border on the Cheshire side of the street.

The 54-year-old was made redundant from his job as a truck salesman due to the pandemic and believed more restrictions were the way to go.

He said: “It’s how it should be to stop it from spreading. I usually go into Congleton to go out so I won’t be going into Staffordshire.

"I actually thought Staffordshire was worse for it because every time you hear about an outbreak it’s Silverdale or somewhere in Staffordshire.

“My mum and dad live in Staffordshire so I won’t be able to visit them. But that’s the way it’s got to be to stop it spreading and hopefully it’ll be sorted out before Christmas.”

Retired hospital pharmacist John Hubbard explained that parts of his street were under different council jurisdictions and that neighbours a few doors away would be under different restrictions from him in Staffordshire.

He said: “We tend to do more of our shopping on the Cheshire side. Congleton has a quite pleasant high street for cafes and a bit of shopping.”

And Staffordshire vicar Gilly Hubbard added: “We stayed within a mile of a locked-down part of south Wales but weren’t even allowed to meet our granddaughter who we still haven’t met yet.”

A retired walker who did not want to be named who lives just into the Cheshire side of the border, added that the restrictions were confusing.

He said: “My daughters both live in Staffordshire. We live in a village in the middle of nowhere. This morning (Wednesday) I went shopping in Kidsgrove, but is that safe? Or legal? I just don’t get it, we live in a country village.”

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