Bedfordshire’s local authorities, Police and health bosses have joined up to urge residents to ‘play their part’ and abide by Tier 4 restrictions over the Christmas period, following a steep rise in new COVID-19 cases and hospital admissions in the area.
Tier 4 restrictions mean that residents in Bedfordshire must stay at home, apart from limited exceptions. Within Tier 4 people cannot meet indoors with people from other households, including over the Christmas and New Year period.
Unless they are part of a support bubble – you cannot form a Christmas bubble in Tier 4. Outdoors, people can only meet one person from another household in a public space.
Dr Nicola Smith, clinical chair for NHS Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Clinical Commissioning Groups, said:
“The increase in infections is a significant cause for concern locally. We’re already seeing more patients that need urgent care as a result of Covid-19. By acting now and following the guidance, you can help reduce the spread of the virus and help keep Covid-19 hospital admissions down.
“We know that residents have made many significant sacrifices in recent times and to have restrictions in force over the Christmas period is extremely difficult for many families, but this is the best way to protect your friends, family and loved ones.”
Chief Superintendent John Murphy said:
“We know how difficult and upsetting it must be for people who have been making plans to see loved ones this Christmas, particularly after all the sacrifices they have already made this year. Many of our officers and staff also live in Bedfordshire so personally share that disappointment, but we must remember this is a public health emergency and the rules have been put in place to keep us all safe.
“The number of cases across Bedfordshire continue to rise at a concerning rate and the pressure on our local hospitals and NHS is stark. So it is more important than ever for people to follow the guidance, stay home and ultimately help save lives.
“We really don’t want to have to fine people for trying to see loved ones at this special time of year, which is why we are asking everyone to once again play their part – which means delaying your celebrations until it is safe, or thinking of alternative ways of connecting with family and friends.
“The only way we will beat this deadly virus is by a collective effort to stop the spread.”
Cllr James Jamieson, leader of Central Bedfordshire Council, said:
“Coronavirus cases have been increasing rapidly in our area over recent weeks and we are also seeing an increasing number of people needing hospital treatment due to covid.
“Our hospitals and other NHS and care services, are always under greater pressure in the winter than at other times of the year. Everyone must play their part in protecting the NHS and saving lives by staying at home and not mixing with people they don’t live with.”
Mayor of Bedford Borough, Dave Hodgson, said:
“Cases of COVID-19 are rising at an alarming rate in Bedford Borough with latest figures showing that cases here are doubling every week.
“We know that many people were hoping to see family and friends over this time, and having to change plans is a real blow in what has already been a very difficult year.
“But, urgent action is needed as we try to contain the spread of this virus.
“Our Environmental Health team, the COVID marshals and the Police visited businesses to provide advice and support following the Tier Four announcement at the weekend. They will continue to be a presence in town and at supermarkets to assist and ensure people continue to follow the rules in place to keep us all safe.
“The ‘stay at home’ order in tier four is now law and we need everyone to play their part.”
Anyone with symptoms must immediately self-isolate for seven days and should only leave the house to access a test.
Regional and local test sites will operate on slightly reduced hours on some public holidays as well as on Christmas and New Year’s Eve but will be open as normal on other days.
To book a site test or a home test go to www.gov.uk/coronavirus or if you don’t have internet access contact the telephone call centre on 119 between 7am and 11pm.