CITY leaders have reacted tonight after it emerged that York will remain in the lowest level of restrictions under the new coronavirus alert system.

Julian Sturdy, MP for York Outer, revealed today that the city is in the medium level of the new three tier system - which has two higher levels labelled 'high' and 'very high'.

It means current national restrictions - including the rule of six, the 10pm curfew for pubs and bars and the wearing of face coverings in enclosed public spaces - still apply. But no further restrictions have yet been imposed on the city.

Following Prime Minister Boris Johnson's statement in the House of Commons today (Monday), in which he outlined the new three tier system of restrictions, Mr Sturdy said: "I will continue to monitor local cases and liaise with the Department of Health and Social Care to ensure any changes are proportionate to [the] situation in York."

York's coronavirus case rate has increased sharply in recent weeks and has more than quadrupled since the start of October - from a rate of 46 cases per 100,000 on September 26 to 200.36 cases per 100,000 less than two weeks later on October 9.

York public health director Sharon Stoltz said last week she was surprised York had not yet been added to the Government's list of areas of concern.

But business leaders have said further restrictions could be "devastating".

Mr Sturdy added: "At present I think the current national measures are appropriate to manage the virus within York but it is crucial that everyone adheres to guidelines by washing their hands when entering and exiting a venue, only meeting in groups of six or fewer, keeping socially distant, and wearing a mask when indoors. If we are vigilant, we can reduce transmission while continuing to enjoy socialising and allowing business to remain open."

York Central MP Rachael Maskell said the test and trace strategy needs to reach more people and that areas already under tighter restrictions than York continue to see infection rates rise.

She said the Prime Minister had failed to get to grips with the fundamental tools for managing Covid-19, adding: "There is little confidence that the announcement will deliver the desired outcome, not least as it still includes the 10pm curfew and measures which are failing to work across the country.

“A stronger public health approach is needed, the best people to lead this is local directors of public health, they know their communities and the measures which will work best to control the virus in their locations. This must start with local control over the test and trace system.

"I will be meeting with the Health Minister later this week to discuss how York could lead the way in this.

"Missing from his statement was any mention of further economic support. Time is running out as the end of the month sees the end of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. This is the pending crisis facing York and the local economy.”

The council warns infection rates are "rising significantly" in York.

City of York Council leader Keith Aspden said: “Whilst it is welcome the early indications that no further restrictions are to be put in place in York, we must remain vigilant and work together to keep our city safe and open.

“However, as the number of cases continue to rise in York and across the country, we must not rest on our laurels and continue to work together to protect jobs, keep our friends and family safe and keep the places we love open."