A Covid-19 / coronavirus safety sign on Eastbank Street in Southport. Photo by Andrew Brown Media

Southport, Sefton and the Liverpool City Region will remain under Tier 2 restrictions after an announcement by Health & Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock in Parliament today. 

All of Lancashire, including West Lancashire and South Rible, will remain in Tier 3. 

Mr Hancock expanded Tier 3 measures in the South East of England, where Covid-19 infections have risen by 46% in the past week. 

Mr Hancock hailed the rollout of Coronavirus vaccines this week to 200 locations this week, including Southport, where vaccinations began on Tuesday. 

“No one wants tougher restrictions any longer than neccesary,” he said, adding that where they are necessary they will be put in place to help ease pressure on the NHS.

He confirms that from 00:01 this Saturday 19 December – the following areas will be placed into Tier 3:

  • Bedfordshire
  • Buckinghamshire
  • Berkshire
  • Peterborough
  • The whole of Hertfordshire
  • Surrey, except Waverley
  • Hastings and Rother
  • Portsmouth, Gosport and Havant

Bristol and North Somerset will move into tier two.

Meanwhile, Herefordshire will move from tier two to tier one.

With a week to go until the Government’s planned five-day relaxation of the COVID-19 restrictions over Christmas, Sefton Council is urging residents who don’t have coronavirus symptoms to get a SMART test before any family gatherings.

Margaret Jones, Sefton Council’s Director of Public Health said: “Getting the results of a SMART test at our Bootle, Southport and Aintree sites will reduce the chance of passing on the COVID-19 virus to relations who may be vulnerable to what is still a dangerous virus over Christmas.

“It takes just 30 minutes to get the results and the reassurance that you’re helping to keep your family safe this Christmas.”

Hundreds of people across Sefton Borough are already taking SMART tests every day at Bootle Leisure Centre, Slash World in Southport and at Aintree racecourse. Each site is open from 9am to 6pm seven days a week apart from Christmas Day, Boxing Day, Monday 28th December and New Year’s Day.

Mrs Jones added: “I can understand that any of us might be reluctant to get a test because we think a positive result will spoil our Christmas but it’s a question of weighing that up against the possibly devastating effects of knowing we’ve given COVID-19 to an elderly or vulnerable relative for whom infection could be very serious and even life-threatening.”

Due to be introduced on Wednesday 23rd December, and last until Sunday 27th, the Government’s Christmas rules say that people can form a “Christmas bubble” made up of people from three households. People can travel between tiers and between UK nations to meet their bubble.

People can only meet in homes, places of worship or public outdoor spaces, and not pubs or restaurants, and any meetings with people outside a bubble must be according to local rules.

Commenting on the Government’s Christmas rules Margaret Jones said: “While most of us will be taking a well-earned break at Christmas, I can assure you Covid-19 won’t so please remain really careful.

“It won’t be coming down the chimney but it will find its way into our homes if we give it a chance. It might arrive with our friends or relatives or if it’s got here already, it may leave with them. And nobody will know until too late.

“So, while the temporary Government relaxations says we ‘can’ do things we all need to think whether we really ‘should’ do them and regularly getting a SMART test will help us decide.”

“And if we do, decide to mix with bigger bubbles, it’s important we don’t get carried away with Christmas fizz and let our guard down.

“We all need to carry on keeping socially distanced, wash our hands frequently and regularly cleaning touch points such as door handles and surfaces.”

“I know people don’t want to be lectured at a time when they are thinking about enjoying themselves but I sincerely want everyone to have a Merry Christmas but also a Happy New Year, in which they and their loved ones are safe.”

Find out more about COVID testing in Sefton.

Do you have any stories for Stand Up For Southport? Please message Andrew Brown via Facebook here or email me at: mediaandrewbrown@gmail.com

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