WORCESTERSHIRE will move into tier 3 tomorrow, December 31.
The new restrictions will come into effect at one minute past midnight following an announcement by Health Secretary Matt Hancock in parliament this afternoon.
It means the county will remain in tier 2 for only a few hours more, a decision taken following a sharp rise in cases.
Non-essential shops can stay open, as can gyms, hairdressers and other personal care businesses in Tier 3.
Hospitality venues such as pubs and restaurants must close, except if they offer a delivery or takeaway service.
Hotels and other accommodation providers must also close, except for specific work purposes where people cannot return home.
People are asked not meet others socially indoors or in most outdoor places with anybody they do not live with.
This includes in any private garden or at most outdoor venues.
Confirmed cases in the county have increased by 40 per cent over the last seven days with 212 per 100,000 people now testing positive for Coronavirus.
Dr Kathryn Cobain, Director for Public Health for Worcestershire said everyone needed to follow the new stricter measures which had been put in place to protect the public.
“We are in a position where our trajectory shows if we don’t do something now, our cases in the county are likely to double within two weeks.
“With the increase in cases and a with the new faster spreading variant being identified in areas of the country, these stricter measures are being brought into place to stop the spread of the virus. It won’t be easy for the residents of Worcestershire, but we can pull together to reduce the number of Covid-19 cases.
“It is up to us all to keep to follow the new rules and to continue to follow social distancing guidelines, wear a face covering, wash our hands regularly and limit our travel and contacts as these remain the best ways to fight against the virus.”
Coun John Smith, Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing and Chairman of the Health and Wellbeing Board added: “These new measures will be tougher but are needed to help the case numbers rising and stop the further spread of the virus in our county.
“We have all seen the good news about the vaccination programme but while the vaccines are being rolled out we must keep working together to reduce the transmission of the virus. If we all play our part and follow the new rules, we will keep the people of Worcestershire safe.”
West Mercia Police Deputy Chief Constable Julian Moss said: “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.
“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.”
For the latest information on the restrictions, please visit the dedicated Coronavirus webpage on the County Council’s website
It means the only area in Tier 1 is the Scilly Isles, off the coast of Cornwall, there are no Tier 2 areas and the rest of England is in either Tier 3 or 4.