Shropshire will be placed in the tier 2 (High) local Covid-19 alert when the four-week lockdown in England ends next week.

New restrictions in Shropshire will come into force on Wednesday, December 2as the county moves into tier 2, the middle of the three band of restrictions.

Despite a reduction in the number of positive cases in the past week, Shropshire’s current seven-day infection rate sits at 168.7 per 100,000 of the population.

Under tier 2 restrictions, people must not meet socially with friends and family indoors in any setting – including homes, pubs and restaurants – unless they live with them or have formed a support bubble with them.

From 00.01am on Wednesday, December 2, the new local alert level 2 restrictions for the Shropshire will mean:

  • People must not socialise indoors with anyone who is not part of their household or support bubble, whether at home or in a public space
  • People can meet family and friends not in their household or support bubble in outdoor settings. When they do so, they must not meet in a group of more than six people
  • You should aim to reduce the number of journeys you make where possible
  • Pubs and bars must close unless operating as restaurants and can only serve alcohol with a substantial meal
  • Hospitality businesses and venues selling food and drink for consumption off the premises can continue to do so after 10pm as long as this is through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-through
  • Shops, personal care, gyms and the wider leisure sector will reopen
  • Schools, colleges, universities and places of worship will remain open
  • Weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of attendees
  • Public attendance at outdoor and indoor events (performances and shows) and spectator sport and business events, is permitted, limited to whichever is lower: 50% capacity, or either 2,000 people outdoors or 1,000 people indoors.
  • Organised grassroots sport will be able to resume

The Government has also announced that up to three households will be able to form bubbles to meet up during a five-day Christmas period of 23 to 27 December. When a bubble is formed it is fixed and must not be changed or extended further at any point.

Each Christmas bubble can meet at home, at a place of worship or an outdoor public place. The bubbles will be fixed, so you will not be able to mix with two households on Christmas Day and two different ones on Boxing Day. Households you are in a Christmas bubble with can’t be in others.

Peter Nutting, leader of Shropshire Council, said: “I would like to thank Shropshire residents for their commitment in helping to curb the spread of the virus. Without their efforts, we would have seen even more cases and further lives lost.

“During the past week, it has been encouraging to see a reduction in the number of positive cases. Whilst infection rates in Shropshire remain lower than in many parts of the country, our case rate is still high, and we are seeing positive cases across all age groups.

“I would urge everyone to get up to speed with the new guidance. We are all being asked to make some small but important adjustments which will help save lives.

“A lot of people’s minds will now be focusing on the festive period. We must continue to be extremely careful – we need to limit our contact with people outside our household and support bubbles, maintain social distancing and do all we can to protect ourselves and our loved ones.

“If we don’t act now, our cases will rise again, putting our loved ones and particularly the more vulnerable members of our community at risk.

“’Step Up Shropshire’ has been our message, and we need everyone to play their part – for our NHS, our older residents, our care workers, our loved ones.

“Making sure people’s health is protected as we get our economy back on its feet is a difficult balancing act, but the measures announced will go some way to helping the leisure and tourism industry in Shropshire, whilst still keeping people safe.

“We’re here to support businesses as much as possible as they get back up and running and will continue with our plans to help them get back on their feet during these challenging times.

“Many of us will now be turning to Christmas shopping, and I would urge you all to ‘shop local’ within the county and recognise the efforts of our business community who have worked hard to create safe and welcoming environments.

“Our residents and businesses have made many sacrifices to try to control this virus. It has been a tough few months but now, more than ever, we need pull together. By following the guidance, we can cut the rates of infection and return to doing the things we love.”

Rachel Robinson, Shropshire’s Director or Public Health said: “The easing of some measures will be welcomed by many people across Shropshire especially as the festive season approaches.

“There may be a temptation for people to relax and let their guard down, but we are asking everyone to be extra cautious during the next few weeks.

“There’s also increasing evidence of the spread of the virus beyond people in their twenties to older and potentially more vulnerable age groups.

“We know that transmission of the virus takes place largely as a result of inter-household mixing. By moving Shropshire into Tier 2 (High Alert), which prevents households from mixing in indoor settings, we are taking preventative measures to stop the situation from escalating further and to protect our most vulnerable residents.

“If people do the right thing, by doing these basic things correctly, then they can curb the spread of the virus and not only protect themselves but protect their loved ones, avoid further restrictions and ultimately save lives.”