RESIDENTS in the New Forest and Christchurch have been urged to follow the new Tier 2 rules once the lockdown ends on Wednesday.
Both Hampshire and Dorset will be under the mid-range Tier 2 regulations which ban mixing indoors between households, unless members of support bubbles.
Cllr Keith Mans, leader of Hampshire County Council, said: “The decision to place Hampshire in the Covid-19 high tier (Tier 2) is not unexpected but is a reflection of the fact that we still have some way to go in controlling the virus.
“It is vitally important that we continue to follow the rules to help keep the virus under control as we head further into winter.”
He added: “My sincere thanks to all Hampshire residents for their resilience and co-operation during the recent period of national restrictions.
“What we all do makes a big difference, and it is only by working together and following the rules that we can continue to protect ourselves, our communities and our loved ones.”
Only a few areas, including the Isle of Wight, were placed in Tier 1 (medium) with many of the Tier 3 (very high) locations in the north and midlands.
Under Tier 2 people are allowed to meet in groups of up to six but can only do so outdoors, including in private gardens.
Pubs and bars must close, unless operating as restaurants. Hospitality venues can only serve alcohol with substantial meals. Organised outdoor sport, and physical activity and exercise classes can continue.
There was disappointment at being in Tier 2 from Cllr Nicola Greene, BCP Council’s cabinet member for Covid resilience and public health, but she also urged people to follow the rules. Dorset Council is also in Tier 2.
Cllr Greene said: “We are disappointed to be placed in Tier 2, given the continuing fall in infection rates in our area, thanks to the positive behaviours of local people who have been diligently following the rules and helping to control the virus.
“We must continue to do so, though, now and from 2nd December, as this will give us hope of moving down a tier as soon as we can. This is vital to protect our older relatives, and increase the changes of a more flexible ‘normal’ in the near future.”
Sam Crowe, joint director of public health for Dorset and BCP councils, added: “These measures are designed to help us bring infection and transmission rates down as quickly as possible.
“Over the last few months, we have seen rising cases where household mixing has led to more positive cases of Covid-19.
“To help stop the spread we need everyone to do their bit and limiting social mixing is one of the most effective way to this.”
Ross McNally, chief executive and of Hampshire Chamber of Commerce said the tougher restrictions made sense bearing in mind the forthcoming Christmas relaxations.
“We are going in the right direction but we need to focus and ensure we are doing everything we can to move from Tier 2 to Tier 1 as quickly as possible,” he added.
“I urge everyone to stick to the rules so this can be achieved as soon as we can. Clearly there are challenges ahead and local businesses will continue to need people’s support, especially in retail and hospitality.
“Our members want to know they can commit fully to a return to commercial activity and so they need consistency in what’s happening to tackle the pandemic so that they can put their plans into operation.
“Hampshire Chamber will continue to support businesses and work with the British Chambers of Commerce to lobby at the highest level at Westminster.”