Public urged to follow regulations over New Year's Eve as Swindon and Wiltshire move up the tiers
People across Wiltshire and Swindon are being urged to limit their New Year's Eve celebrations to staying at home with members of their own household to try to stop the spread of Covid-19 over the festive period.
The Government has today outlined clear and increased restrictions which will remain in place over the new year and beyond and prevent people from mixing indoors, so please remember that parties are not allowed.
Chief Constable Kier Pritchard, chair of the Wiltshire and Swindon Local Resilience Forum, said he appreciated that it had been a difficult Christmas for many people but it was important to stay focused on the bigger picture.
He said: "Like most of 2020, New Year's Eve is going to be different this year and we all need to continue to play our part in trying to control the spread of Covid.
"The Government has been clear that the only relaxations to the Covid restrictions were for Christmas Day - restrictions remain in place for New Year's Eve and beyond. These restrictions are in place to protect us all.
"I would continue to urge everyone to understand and adhere to the restrictions in their area and take personal responsibility for your actions in light of the rapid rise in cases that are being seen all across the country.
"We will continue to have an increased policing presence within our communities, engaging and encouraging people to follow the restrictions in place, but my officers will not hesitate to act if there are any flagrant breaches to the rules."
As of 00.01hrs on Thursday 31 December, Swindon will move to the "Stay at Home" Tier 4 and Wiltshire into the "Very High Alert" Tier 3 level.
In Tier 3, you can only see friends and family you do not live with (or do not have a support bubble with) in some outdoor public places such as parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, public gardens in a group of up to 6. You must not meet socially in a private garden with anyone you do not live with or have a support bubble with.
In Tier 4, you must not leave or be outside of your home or garden except where you have a reasonable excuse. You can exercise outdoors or visit some public outdoor places, such as parks, the countryside accessible to the public, public gardens or outdoor sports facilities alone, with your household or support bubble. You can meet one other person from another household if you maintain social distancing - but you must not meet in a private garden.
We hope you understand the importance of marking the new year at home with the people you live with rather than organising further celebrations.
Councillor David Renard, Leader of Swindon Borough Council, said: "2020 has been a particularly challenging year for us all and while many will want to celebrate the New Year, Covid-19 will not disappear at the stroke of midnight. With our case numbers on the rise it is still incredibly important that we all follow the guidance to protect ourselves, our loved ones, our communities and the NHS.
"It's up to all of us to minimise the extra burden on our local health services and to protect our hospital so they can provide the medical care and treatment we depend on. With current guidance suggesting one in three people with Covid-19 don't show any symptoms, we have to act like any of us could be spreading the virus whether we have symptoms or not.
"If we let our guards down for one night that will result in more cases and more people in hospital with serious and potentially life-threatening illness.
"Please do not bend the rules this New Year's Eve and have a safe, Covid-free evening. We will have plenty of time to celebrate once the virus is under control."
Councillor Philip Whitehead, Leader of Wiltshire Council, said: "We know it's been a year of guidelines, rules and regulations but we really need people to continue their good work and play their part to help keep people safe.
"New Year's Eve, normally a time for great celebration, will have to be a quieter affair this year and we ask that everyone stays within their household to see in the start of 2021.
"Case numbers are on the rise again, so if we all make the right decisions and look out for one another, then that will certainly improve the prospects of 2021 being a lot better than this year.
"As always we thank everyone for their support. Happy New Year."