The situation in Leicester further evidences how fragile things remain
Ms Lucas, who represents Brighton Pavilion, issued her warning on the day pubs across England open after a three-month closure enforced by the coronavirus pandemic which has been dubbed “Super Saturday”. In an open letter to ministers including Health Secretary Matt Hancock, she wrote: “The situation in Leicester further evidences how fragile things remain. “The risks of Brighton and Hove becoming a hotspot are high because of its popularity with visitors.”
Ms Lucas said: “For good reason, the city is a popular destination for visitors.
“Its proximity to London, and position on the coast, along with its large number of independent shops and cafes, creates a unique feel which has long made the city a popular place for day-trippers.
“Research from Visit England shows that the Palace Pier in Brighton has traditionally been the most visited free tourist attraction outside of London, with annual visitor numbers of almost five million, and the city has about 11 million visitors annually.
“While I am a huge champion of all that is brilliant in the city, and I understand the many businesses desperate to re-open and resume trading, I am concerned that visitor numbers could have the potential to compromise public safety if the authorities are not provided with greater support to manage the situation.”
Caroline Lucas MP is concerned about Brighton becoming a hotspot
A graph shows confirmed COVID-19 cases in Brighton
Ms Lucas added: “It is hugely important that people visiting Brighton and Hove are able to do so safely, that public safety isn’t compromised by social distancing not being possible and that visitor numbers do not undermine the safety and freedoms of local residents.”
Fears about a spike in cases in Brighton rose after an analytical website, Deckzero, calculated the R number, or reproductive rate of COVID-19, to be 1.68 at the end of May.
If accurate, that would mean each infected person would on average go on to infect 1.68 others, resulting in a rise in community transmission.
However, speaking last month, Alistair Hill, director of public health for Brighton and Hove City Council, cautioned against reading too much into the analysis, pointing out it was based on a rise in confirmed cases of eight, from 10 to 18.
Sunbathers crammed on to Brighton’s beaches last month
He said: “Calculating the R rate is very complex. It involves data from lots of different sources.
“The calculations include information relating to such things as confirmed cases, hospital admissions, deaths, patient surveys and testing.
“It is not possible to calculate meaningful R values at a very local level, such as one specific for Brighton and Hove.”
A statement issued by Mr Hill on Thursday said: “This week we have seen a large increase in the number of coronavirus cases reported in Brighton & Hove, and also in local authorities across England.
“I want to make it clear that this is not a sudden increase in the number of cases that have tested positive for COVID-19, but a change to the way cases are being reported by the government.
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Workmen get the Waggon and Horses in Brighton ready to reopen last month
A local lockdown is currently in force in Leicester
“Previously the number of positive cases only included data from tests processed in NHS hospital and Public Health England labs (known as Pillar 1 testing).
“The new, higher figure reflects all of the different locations that NHS tests are processed including commercial laboratories (known as Pillar 2 testing).”
He added: “Currently the rate of new cases is now much lower compared to April and May which is good news.
“However, to prevent the risk of further outbreaks, it’s vital that all residents and businesses continue to play their part.
“Everyone should maintain physical distancing of two metres if possible, wash your hands regularly, wear face coverings where advised and follow government guidance.”
Coronavirus hotspots in the UK
Speaking yesterday, Councillor Carmen Appich, chairwoman of the Tourism, Economy, Culture & Communities committee Brighton and Hove Council said: “We want everyone who comes into the city centre to enjoy themselves but not at the cost of others.
“We all need to stay safe and consider our local communities.
“COVID-19 has not gone away and the NHS is still working hard to save lives.
“We should all stay two metres apart if possible, use hand sanitiser and wear a mask on public transport, in shops and public spaces if you can.
“Physical distancing is key to keeping coronavirus at bay.
Caroline Lucas, pictured in Parliament, is Green MP for Brighton Pavilion
“Please allow extra space between yourself and others.”
Government estimates put the R figure in the south east region, which includes Brighton, at between 0.7 and 1.0.
There were 765 confirmed cases out of a local population of 290,885 up to July 3.
A total of 152 coronavirus-related deaths were registered up to June 19.
Meanwhile 19 percent of all deaths involved coronavirus between February 29 and June 19.