In my last update, I shared with you the grave concerns I had about imposing the national measures we have all just experienced. I understand the level of emotional and economic hardship this deadly virus has had on all our lives. The sacrifices we have all made. I have listened carefully to the many people in North East Hampshire who’ve written to me with their concerns over recent days, weeks and months.
National measures have ended and, as of 2nd December, we have been placed in Tier 2.
This decision is, of course, frustrating to many – especially those that live in parts of our constituency that currently don’t have the highest case numbers – but seeking to suppress the virus is the track we are on and we cannot go off the rails now.
Look at it the other way. There is good news. Schools remain open. All shops can reopen. Pubs and restaurants can reopen. We’re not in Tier 3, because the tough measures of the last month have worked here in Hampshire. And we will be able to see family over Christmas too.
There is a glimmer of hope in the distance. HM Government has secured 355 million doses of vaccine – more than any other country per capita. As this is rolled out through winter and into the spring – alongside mass testing – the need for even localised restrictions should gradually reduce, and life as we knew it will return once again. This is still in the distance though, so we need to stay on board and see this journey through. Guidance continues to evolve – and a full list can be found at gov.uk/coronavirus – but I have summarised the main changes below:
- Rule of six – Up to six people can socialise outside in a garden or public space, but you should not socialise indoors (unless in a support bubble).
- Business and venues can continue to operate in a COVID-secure manner – other than those required to close by law such as nightclubs.
- You can continue to travel to venues or amenities that are open, but should aim to reduce the number of journeys you make where possible.
- Pubs and bars operating as restaurants can open – but alcohol can only be served with substantial meals.
- Coffee shops can continue to operate in a COVID-secure manner.
- Public attendance at spectator sport and business events can resume inside and outside, subject to social contact rules that can be found on GOV.UK
- Churches remain open, but you must not socialise with people from outside of your household or support bubble while you are indoors there, unless a legal exemption applies.
- Weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on numbers of attendees – 15 people can attend wedding ceremonies and receptions, 30 people can attend funeral ceremonies, and 15 people can attend linked commemorative events such as wakes or stone settings.
- Organised outdoor sport, and physical activity and exercise classes can continue.
- Organised indoor sport, physical activity and exercise classes will only be permitted if it is possible for people to avoid mixing with people they do not live with (or share a support bubble with). There are exceptions for indoor disability sport, sport for educational purposes and supervised sport and physical activity for under-18s, which can take place with larger groups mixing.
Everything you are doing now will help make sure that hospitals, like ours here in north Hampshire, aren’t overwhelmed – and that patients can still receive amazing care from our dedicated doctors and nurses.
If you need any help or more information on current guidance or anything else, please do send me a message to: email@example.com