It was announced today that Portsmouth will be put in to tier two restrictions, after lockdown ends next week, meaning pubs and restaurants will be able to open until 11pm, hairdressers and shops can welcome people in but households still won’t be able to mix indoors.
It is hoped the restrictions will help the city continue to drop its Covid-19 infection rate – which has gone from 313 to 203 in seven days – before rules are relaxed between December 23 and December 27, allowing three households to come together for Christmas.
Helen Atkinson, director of public health at Portsmouth City Council, has welcomed today’s announcement but has been left torn over the Christmas break in rules.
Speaking to The News she said: ‘For me tier two will give some freedom back, I do recognise people are really frustrated and they are really tired.
‘It will give freedom back to allow them to see people but still encourages them not to have lots of interactions as we head into Christmas and I think if we can just ask residents to continue to abide by the restrictions and be aware of the rules of tier two so they know what they need to and that will get us up to Christmas.
‘As much as I am really pleased to hear the government have given people some freedom over Christmas, because I think people are tired now, unfortunately we will see an increase in rate I suspect in January.
‘It is a difficult one as the director of public health I feel very torn because you are always trying to balance out the fact you want the infection rate down to protect the most vulnerable people but you also have to recognise that there is a mental health and emotional wellbeing impact and you also have the economic impact which also has an impact of people’s health and wellbeing.’
In Portsmouth 52 new cases were confirmed on Thursday and in total there have been 4,237 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the city since the start of the pandemic.
Ms Atkinson added: ‘It is about three weeks into the national restrictions of lockdown and the evidence shows it takes about three weeks for those restrictions with people having less contact to make a direct impact on the infection rate going down and that is what we are seeing.
‘I know people will be really pleased to have the relaxation for a few days at Christmas because everyone is fed up and nobody wants to be in this situation and hopefully in the new year with the vaccination programme starting, particularly in our more vulnerable population, we will see a continued improvement but it is not over yet.’