Herefordshire will move into Tier 1 from December 19 for Covid restrictions, which is medium alert, but the county council is still urging residents "to go the extra mile to keep themselves and others safe".

Herefordshire’s Acting Director of Public Health Dr Rebecca Howell-Jones said: “Although going into Tier 1 eases some of the current restrictions, I am asking Herefordshire residents to take extra care up to and after Christmas to protect their family and friends particularly those who are elderly or vulnerable. The decisions we all make now will affect us and the wider community in the coming weeks and months.”

The county had been in the Tier 2 (High Alert) level since December 2 when the month-long national lockdown was lifted. However the Government is reviewing each area’s tier status every 14 days.

When doing this the Government considers five key indicators, which are:

•Case detection rates in all age groups

•Case detection rates in the over-60s

•The rate at which cases are rising or falling

•Positivity rate (the number of positive cases detected as a percentage of tests taken)

•Pressure on the NHS

The indicators are designed to provide a full picture of what is happening with the virus in any area so that suitable action can be taken.

Across all tiers everyone:

•Must wear a face covering in most indoor public settings, unless they have an exemption

•Should follow the rules on meeting others safely

•Should attend school or college as normal, unless they are self-isolating. Schools, universities, colleges and early years settings remain open in all tiers

•Should walk or cycle where possible, plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes when travelling

Dr Howell-Jones added: “I want to thank the residents of Herefordshire for their fantastic efforts in following the Covid-19 guidance and helping to reduce transmission of the virus.

“Although the county has moved into Tier 1, it is so important that everyone remains committed to following the rules and going that extra mile to ensure the Covid-19 rates are kept as low as possible and most importantly that we protect our loved ones. The virus is still in our communities and infection rates can accelerate very quickly if people relax their behaviour.

“We still have a long way to go in the fight against this virus. Social distancing, wearing a face covering in most indoor public settings away from home and regular handwashing are as important now as they were during the peak of the pandemic. Following the guidance is vital if we are to prevent a surge in cases during January and February.”