BOTH Hampshire and Dorset have been placed in Tier 1 of the Prime Minister’s new three-tier system launched on Wednesday to try to stop the spread of coronavirus.
The county was set on medium alert, putting residents under basic national rules including pubs and restaurants closing at 10pm and the ‘rule of six’ limiting groups meeting indoors and outdoors, writes Maria Zaccaro of the Local Democracy Reporting Service.
These restrictions apply to the areas with the lowest rate of infection. But civic chiefs have warned that the number of cases across the county continues to rise.
It comes as a total of 6,995 infections has been recorded in Hampshire. As of today (Tuesday) it was not clear what the threshold is for the county to move from Tier 1 to 2.
In a Tier 2 area, the mixing between different households indoors is not allowed and the rule of six will only apply outdoors.
Tier 3 areas see pubs and bars closed; households cannot mix indoors or outdoors; and gyms, leisure centres, betting shops and casinos close. Shops, schools and universities will remain open.
The Liverpool city region is the only one across the country so far to face such restrictions.
Simon Bryant, director of public health at Hampshire County Council, said: “While infection rates in Hampshire continue to be well below the England average, we are seeing the overall number of positive cases continuing to rise.
“To help prevent the further spread of infection, and the risk of our county moving into Tier 2, it’s critical that we all stick to the rules – hands, face, space – and refrain from gathering in a group of more than six, either indoors or outdoors, although this can be more for single household groups or support bubbles.
“If we don’t, we could be faced with further curbs to our freedoms – something none of us wants to happen.”
Dorset has also been classed as a Tier 1 medium risk area, with residents urged to help reduce the need for tighter restrictions.
The warning was made by Sam Crowe, the joint director of public health for Dorset and BCP councils, following a recent increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in the county.
Ms Crowe said: “We are classed as a medium risk area, having experienced a low number of cases over the last few months. However, we have seen a significant increase in case numbers and case rates in recent weeks, particularly in the Bournemouth area.
“Whilst these have so far been mostly contained within household bubbles, specific workplaces and education settings, if the current rate at which cases are rising continues, we are at risk of the virus spreading more widely amongst people, known as community transmission.”
She added: “To prevent this, people must follow the rules. “If you are showing symptoms or have been identified as a close contact of someone with Covid-19 you must self-isolate and not leave your house for any reason at all other than to be tested.”
Cllr Nicola Greene, BCP Council cabinet member for Covid resilience, schools and skills, said: “Follow the rules so we can avoid having to take further action and can instead continue to enjoy the relative freedoms of doing normal things safely.”