RESIDENTS across Dorset are being urged to stick to the rules to boost the likelihood of moving to Tier 1 restrictions before Christmas.

The government has announced that the whole of Dorset will be subject to Tier 2 measures, which mean people can only mix with their own households or support bubbles indoors, following the second national lockdown next week.

In outdoor settings people will be able to meet in groups of up to six, in line with the High Alert level restrictions.

People can only go to restaurants with members of their household or support bubble and pubs can only operate as restaurants and serve alcohol to people who have ordered a "substantial meal".

Cllr Nicola Greene, BCP Council's cabinet member for covid resilience and public health, said: “We are disappointed to be placed in tier two, given the continuing fall in infection rates in our area, thanks to the positive behaviours of local people, who have been diligently following the rules and helping to control the virus.

"We must continue to do so, though, now and from 2 December, as this will give us hope of moving down a tier as soon as we can.

"This is vital to protect our older relatives, and increase the changes of a more flexible ‘normal’ in the near future.”

Sam Crowe, director of public health for Dorset and BCP Councils, said: “These measures are designed to help us bring infection and transmission rates down as quickly as possible. Over the last few months, we have seen rising cases where household mixing has led to more positive cases of COVID-19.

“To help stop the spread we need everyone to do their bit and limiting social mixing is one of the most effective way to this.”

A joint statement from Public Health Dorset, BCP and Dorset Councils, said throughout the pandemic public services in Dorset have worked together to tackle COVID-19 across the county.

Members of the Dorset Local Resilience Forum will continue working together to drive down rates so we can look to ease restrictions as soon as possible, the local authorities said.

Cllr Spencer Flower, leader of Dorset Council, said: “I am disappointed that the Dorset Council area will be in Tier 2 following the end of national restrictions on Wednesday 2 December.

"The rate of COVID infection here is falling and is one of the lowest in the country. The people of Dorset have worked hard and made sacrifices to comply with COVID restrictions over many months. As a result, the number of COVID cases here has been relatively low. However, I am optimistic that by continuing to observe measures to reduce spread of the virus we can return to Tier 1 when the Government conducts its review on 16 December.

"Once again, thank you for everything everyone is doing to stop the spread of the virus.”

The new rules come into effect on Wednesday 2 December.

The councils and Public Health Dorset are hosting an online Covid update broadcast from 7pm this evening (Thursday, November 26). To access the broadcast, which will be on Microsoft Teams, click here.