Christmas for many people was effectively cancelled when all of London and most of Essex moved into the new Tier 4 of the Government’s COVID-19 restrictions last weekend.
This is a challenging end to a challenging year, particularly at a time when many were planning to see loved ones after a long period of enforced separation.
The new strain of the virus is reported to be fast-spreading and some people may be infected without displaying symptoms.
Essex Police will be on duty over the Christmas and New Year period, and they will be following the latest regulations. Officers will also continue to respond to clear and blatant breaches.
The new rules in place mean the following:
- You must stay at home, except for the reasons outlined by the Government (www.gov.uk/guidance/tier-4-stay-at-home).
- All non-essential retail will have to close, along with personal care services such as hairdressers and nail bars, and indoor entertainment venues.
- You can leave home to buy things at shops which are permitted to open in your area, but you should stay local
- Gyms and indoor leisure facilities will close
- You should work from home unless you are unable to do so
- Don’t mix indoors with anyone from outside of your household/bubble
- You can only meet one other person from another household/bubble, outdoors in a public place
- Christmas bubbles have been cancelled for tier 4 areas and you cannot join a Christmas bubble in a lower tier area.
The new rules do not affect support bubbles or the exemptions in place to allow children from separated parents to travel between two homes.
Cllr Trevor Harp, cabinet member for adult social care and health at Southend Council, said: “The announcement made by the Government demonstrates the rapid rise of this terrible disease across London, the south east and the east of England and the need for us all to adhere to the significant new restrictions that are now in place.
“Throughout the pandemic we have urged local people to follow the rules and our rates have been low until the recent and worrying rise across all age groups.
“As rates and hospital admissions across south Essex and the wider area continue to increase and we understand more about this new strain it is clear that we must all do all we can to protect our families, protect our community and protect the NHS.
“Please, please, follow the new restrictions in place, stay at home unless for the reasons specified, limit your contact with others and remember hands, face, space.”
Cllr Ian Gilbert, leader of the council, said: “We know the impact this will have on local people and for those that were looking forward to forming Christmas bubbles.
“But the message nationally and the scientific evidence is clear. We must not mix indoors with anyone outside our household or support bubble whilst we are in tier 4 restrictions, and we can only meet one other person outdoors.
“This will be tough on so many, but the virus thrives on human contact and by reducing that we can reduce the spread of this disease that we all want to see the back of and help protect the NHS which is already under severe pressure and demand.
“We will continue to support the most vulnerable in our community and would urge people to use the community connections and the action line that we have in place if you need support.
“Please do adhere to the restrictions and finally please also continue to get tested and use the increased community testing that we have in place. Although contact with others is now restricted further, it will still help to identify and help prevent the spread of the virus.”
If you break the rules, the police can take action against you if you meet in larger groups. This includes breaking up illegal gatherings and issuing fines (fixed penalty notices). You can be given a Fixed Penalty Notice of £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400.
If you hold, or are involved in holding, an illegal gathering of over 30 people, the police can issue fines of £10,000.
The measures will be formally reviewed on December 30.