TOUGHER coronavirus restrictions could be the "final nail in the coffin" for Ryedale businesses, it has been claimed.

Cllr Keane Duncan, leader of Ryedale District Council, raised concerns after a North Yorkshire County Council chief said the county's tier one status is "hanging by a thread".

Richard Webb, North Yorkshire County Council’s corporate director for Health and Adult Services, told a meeting of the North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum today that the situation was on a “knife-edge”.

Mr Webb said it would be better for the region to remain in Tier 1 but there were worrying trends in parts of North Yorkshire as neighbouring West Yorkshire looks likely to join South Yorkshire in Tier 3 restrictions.

A decision on whether to impose tougher restrictions could possibly come as soon as this week.

Cllr Duncan said: "With Ryedale's infection rate significantly behind every other district in North Yorkshire, it would be reckless to consume our district into a county-wide raising to Tier 2.

"For many Ryedale businesses fighting for their survival, extra restrictions would be the final nail in the coffin.

"And for what public health benefit? Tier 2 restrictions in Ryedale would be totally disproportionate to the evidence and fly in the face of the responsible and localised approach advocated by North Yorkshire's MPs.

"The county council should urgently re-think its blanket approach, recognise significant variations in infection rates across the county, and avoid subjecting Ryedale to any unnecessary agony."

North Yorkshire’s seven-day infection rate per 100,000 people does remain below the English average, with the county at 170.2 compared to the national figure of 219.5. Ryedale has a rate of 76 and neighbouring Scarborough stands at 123.

Mr Webb said: “The situation in North Yorkshire is hanging by a thread.

“So, our way of operating and our livelihoods currently at Tier 1, the Medium level of alert, the lowest level of alert, is really on a knife-edge.

“We are hoping we can continue to be Tier 1 but we just don’t know.

“We are in a situation where most of the North of England is at a higher level of escalation than we are. On our doorstep, we have the situation in York which is at level 2, the situation in West and South Yorkshire and the Tees Valley as well.

“So we may be in a situation by the end of the week where part or the whole of the county moves into Tier 2.

“We hope we can avoid that and we are in active conversation with the Government and Public Health England but that does require all of us to take a step back and think about how we can prevent that happening.”