COVID restrictions have tightened in Herefordshire, including in Ledbury, with the county moving from Tier 2 to Tier 3.

The new Government restrictions from Tier 2 (High Alert) to Tier 3 (Very High Alert) came into affect on from 0.01am Thursday December 31, and the move has been welcomed by Herefordshire Council, because of rising Covid cases in the county.

The latest Government figures (in the seven days to December 24) show there were 195 cases per 100,000 people in Herefordshire. This is an increase of 106.6% on the previous week.

Herefordshire’s Acting Director of Public Health Dr Rebecca Howell-Jones said:

“We are very concerned about the rapid rise in the infection rate in Herefordshire in the past few weeks and we need to do all we can to get this under control. We therefore welcome the Government’s decision to move Herefordshire up a level to Tier 3.

“Herefordshire residents have done a brilliant job throughout the pandemic to keep Covid-19 cases low and everyone has a role to play in keeping themselves and their loved ones safe, while helping to make sure our health and care services do not become overwhelmed.

“It has never been more important to keep doing all we can to reduce transmission of infections. The country is now dealing with new rapidly spreading variants of Covid-19 and it is crucial people continue to follow the guidance. We are asking people to think very carefully about social mixing and whether they need to go out.

“Strict social distancing, always wearing a face covering in indoor public settings and regular thorough handwashing are still key in our battle against the virus.”

Meanwhile, West Mercia Police, which covers the county, including Ledbury, is urging people to have a safe New Year.

And extra officers will be on patrol, looking out for the rule breakers.

Deputy Chief Constable Julian Moss said of the Tier 3 restrictions: "We understand this will be disappointing, particularly as for some it will mean changing New Year's Eve plans, but we are asking the public to be responsible and to mark the end of 2020 in line with the restrictions.

“As much as many people may want to be out celebrating the end of the year we all need to follow the restrictions a bit longer and have our New Year celebrations the ‘2020 way’ to help us get back to “normal” as soon as possible."

He added: “We are sure that the vast majority of our communities will respect the rules, as they have since March, and we continue to be thankful for their support, community spirit and care for those around them.

“Those that put others at risk of this deadly virus by committing serious breaches, such as organising large gatherings and parties for New Year’s Eve, can expect a visit from our officers and a £10,000 fine. Each year we have additional resources in place for New Year’s Eve to support our communities in enjoying the celebrations safely. In that respect, this year is no different and extra officers will be on patrol throughout the evening and early hours.”

Main Tier 3 restrictions are as follows:

You must not socialise indoors, in a private garden and at most outdoor public venues with anyone outside your household or support bubble

You can meet in groups of up to 6 friends and family at parks, beaches, countryside, forests, public gardens, allotments, outdoor sports courts/facilities and playgrounds

Hospitality settings, such as bars (including shisha bars), pubs, cafes, restaurants, and social clubs must close except for takeaway, delivery and click and collect services.

Businesses and venues selling alcohol for consumption off the premises can continue to do so as long as this is through takeaway, delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-through

Accommodation such as hotels, B&Bs, campsites, holiday lets and guest houses must close.

Indoor play centres, trampolining parks, amusement arcades, nightclubs, cinemas, theatres concert halls and snooker halls must close

A range of indoor and outdoor entertainment venues must close. They include zoos, museums and galleries, heritage sites and animal attractions such as farms

The full Tier 3 restrictions can be found on the Government website.

The Government reviews the Covid-19 Tiers every 14 days and the results of the next review are expected to be announced on Wednesday January 13.