Islanders should not travel to Portsmouth, Havant and Gosport under new coronavirus rules which come into force today (Sunday).
The city, along with London and other parts of the South East, moved into stricter Tier 4 restrictions amid a surge in what the government believes to be a new, more infectious strain of coronavirus.
People in those areas must stay at home, cannot join or form a Christmas bubble and must not leave or be outside their home except for specific purposes.
As well as outlining these new tighter restrictions, the Prime Minister last night also announced changes to previous plans for the festive period.
Across Tiers 1 to 3, the Christmas bubble rules allowing up to three households to meet will now be limited to Christmas Day only – and not the five days from 23 to 27 December, as previously set out.
Following the announcement, Isle of Wight Council leader, Dave Stewart, said it was extremely important that Islanders followed the latest restrictions, making sure to stay local and minimise travel wherever possible.
He said: “The rules are very clear: people must not go into Tier 4 areas unless they are travelling for essential reasons, such as work, education, caring for vulnerable people and to attend medical/hospital appointments.
“People in Tier 4 must not travel to the Isle of Wight for non-essential reasons and must not stay away overnight.
“We are already speaking to ferry operators with regards to the implications for cross-Solent travel, although neither they nor the council have the ability to enforce the no travel rule.
“We can see now the significant impact on our daily lives that a Tier 4 designation brings so we should not take our own Tier 1 freedoms for granted.
“It is vitally important everyone on the Island adheres to the new rules and continues to live with caution to #keeptheislandsafe. I would also ask that you think very carefully about your Christmas plans this year and stay local. If you had planned visitors from a Tier 4 area in your Christmas bubble then they are not allowed to visit with you.
“It’s crucial that we all take the necessary steps to protect the public’s health – particularly those who are elderly or clinically extremely vulnerable. It’s the right thing to do.
“This new strain of the virus seems to spread very quickly so we must be wary; making these sacrifices now could prevent an even larger spike of cases in January and February, keeping us all safer until we can get vaccinated.
“Our message today is clear – #keeptheIslandsafe. It needs you to make the right choice this Christmas and live within the guidelines.”
The tighter restrictions come after a “dramatic increase” in infections in the South East and London where in some areas, most of the new COVID-19 cases are thought to be the new variant of the virus.
Councillor Stewart added: “We haven’t been told anything about how prevalent the new strain is in Portsmouth but I know the city council is urgently seeking this information from the government.”
Councillor Stewart also reminded those intending to visit the Island over the Christmas and New Year period that their tier restrictions travelled with them and police can take enforcement action should those restrictions be breached.
“To those living in Tier 2 and 3 areas, please do not try to side-step the tighter restrictions in your area by visiting the Island for a day or night out,” he said.
“If you do, you may inadvertently bring the virus in with you and increase the chance of transmission to local residents.”
Tier 4 guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/tier-4-stay-at-home
For further information on coronavirus on the Island, visit keeptheislandsafe.org