Somerset will be escalated to Tier 4 coronavirus restrictions from midnight tonight (31 December) following an announcement from the Health Secretary Matt Hancock this afternoon.
The Tier covers all four districts – Mendip, Sedgemoor, South Somerset and Somerset West and Taunton.
Leader of Somerset County Council David Fothergill said: “In the last three weeks in Somerset, the number of Covid-19 cases has almost trebled. Rising from 473 cases per week to 1,299. In the most recent week, the rate of new cases increased by more than a third (37 per cent).
“Tier 4 restrictions are tough but very necessary if we are to get back in control of our rising rates and cases. We’ve just heard the new Oxford vaccine has been approved, so the vaccination programme will gather pace but now is not the time to be complacent. I urge you all to do your bit, follow the new restrictions exactly and help everyone in Somerset to get back to a more normal way of life.”
For Somerset residents living in a Tier 4 area, this means you must not leave or be outside of your home except for specific purposes. The essential guidelines are set out below:
- No household mixing, aside from support bubbles and two people meeting in public outdoor spaces.
- Hospitality closed, aside from sales by takeaway, drive-through or delivery.
- Essential shops can open. Non-essential retail must close and can only open for click-and-collect and delivery.
- Everyone must work from home unless they are unable to do so.
- Early years settings, schools, colleges and universities open during term time. Registered childcare, other supervised activities for childcare purposes, and childcare bubbles permitted.
- Indoor leisure, accommodation and personal care – closed.
- You must not stay overnight away from home. Limited exceptions apply.
- Funerals of up to 30 people permitted. Wakes and other linked ceremonial events can continue in a group of up to six. Weddings of up to six can continue in exceptional circumstances.
- Indoor entertainment closed. Some outdoor attractions may remain open.
- Places of worship open for private prayer and communal worship but cannot interact with anyone outside household or support bubble.
- You must stay at home and only travel for work, education or other legally permitted reasons. If you must travel, you should stay local, and reduce the number of journeys you make. You must not leave a Tier 4 area or stay overnight away from home. Residents in Tiers 1 – 3 should not enter Tier 4 areas. Do not travel abroad if you live in a Tier 4 area unless an exemption applies.
- You can leave your home to exercise by yourself, with your household or support bubble, or with one person from another household. Outdoor sport allowed but gatherings limit applies except for youth and disabled sport.
- You can visit relatives in care homes with COVID-secure arrangements such as substantial screens, visiting pods, and window visits.
- The Clinically Extremely Vulnerable are advised to stay at home as much as possible, except to go outdoors for exercise or to attend health appointments.
For more information visit: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/full-list-of-local-restriction-tiers-by-area#tier-4-stay-at-home
James Rimmer, Chief Executive and System Lead, Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group added “Health and care teams from across the county are working exceptionally hard to continue to make sure people get the care that they need, while cases of Covid-19 continue to rise. All our health and care services including hospitals, GP surgeries and community services are busier than ever, caring for the most vulnerable people and those who have confirmed Covid-19.
“Everyone has an important part to play in keeping our loved ones and our health and care services as safe as possible and help us to manage demand on our services by continuing to follow social distancing. Over the past few weeks we have successfully started our Covid-19 programme in Somerset, offering vaccinations to the first priority groups as identified by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, but we need your help to keep everyone safe while we continue to roll-out the vaccine programme.
“If you need to access urgent medical advice or treatment, please call ahead before visiting your local GP surgery or hospital. You can contact NHS111 online, or call 111 for advice and if you need to be seen you will be. NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, if you have an urgent medical problem both online and by telephone. NHS 111 can signpost you to the most appropriate local service to help you and if you need to be seen, an appointment will be booked for you at the right service. Please make the right call and only dial 999 in a genuine life-threatening emergency.”
Lou Woolway, Deputy Director of Public Health for Somerset said: “We have come so far in our fight against this disease but Tier 4 is the right Tier for us at the moment; if we act now and do the right thing we will be able to soon get back to a more normal way of life.
“We know that many you will be glad to see the back of 2020, but this New Year’s Eve really isn’t one to celebrate – we have to resist the temptation to party, even getting together with small groups. One in three people who has the virus will not display symptoms – the risk of mixing outside the household is just too high.”
A single phone number is available for anyone in Somerset who needs Coronavirus-related support from their councils. The Somerset Coronavirus Support Helpline number, 0300 790 6275, is open seven days a week from 8am to 6pm, offering a range of support – from help accessing food or medicines, to emotional and financial support, and employment, housing and business advice.