The whole of Dorset will remain under Tier 2 Covid restrictions amid concerns about the level of coronavirus cases in the area.
Both the Dorset Council and Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council will be kept under high alert measures following a review that saw several regions of England enter Tier 3.
As part of the Dorset Council area, this means Swanage and Purbeck is still in Tier 2.
Factors that led to the decision included the infection rate among older people and the ongoing strain upon hospitals and the care sector.
Sam Crowe, Director of Public Health for Dorset and BCP Councils said:
“I understand people may feel frustrated and disappointed by this decision. Locally, we have seen the reduction in case rates level off and plateau in recent days and our hospital system remains under pressure.
“Tier one restrictions would not be enough to continue to bring our rates down, and we would risk having to go back into tougher measures.
“Most people have been doing a really good job in complying with the measures and I’d urge everyone not to drop their guard, and to keep social contact to a minimum, particularly over the five days of reduced restrictions over Christmas.”
Sam Crowe, Director of Public Health for Dorset and BCP Councils
Dorset residents “worked really hard and made sacrifices”
Before Dorset can move down into Tier 1 – which would mean an easing of restrictions – there will need to be a substantial fall in cases.
Councillor Spencer Flower, Leader of Dorset Council, said:
“I am disappointed that the Dorset Council area will remain in Tier 2, as we know the rate of COVID infection here is one of the lowest in the country. However, with it being so close to Christmas bubble restrictions coming into force, I understand the concerns the Government has and certainly wouldn’t want to see cases rise.
“The people of Dorset have worked really hard and made sacrifices over many months. I’d like to thank them once again for their efforts. If we can continue what we are doing now, we can hopefully go back into Tier 1 in the very near future.”
Councillor Nicola Greene, cabinet member for covid resilience and public health said:
“I share the disappointment of all those who were hoping for our area to be moved to a tier one alert level. Everyone has clearly worked so hard to reduce the spread of the virus locally but we must all keep at it a little longer.
“And let’s focus on the thing we can do safely – shops are open and you can head out with your household or bubble for a meal or a coffee, or grab a takeaway and meet family and friends outside as long as you follow the rule of six. Our businesses really need our support at the moment – so if you can safely support them, please do.”
Although the Tier 2 measures are still in place, residents can have cause for hope as Dorset GP surgeries begin to offer local Covid vaccination services.
The vaccine is currently being administered to those in the highest risk categories. Residents are being asked not to phone their GP but to wait until they are contacted by their surgery.
Dorset County Hospital in Dorchester started vaccinating those over 80 years old and care home workers on Tuesday 8th December 2020.
The rollout via GP hubs has begun to the east and west of the county. There is no update on when Purbeck surgeries are going to start offering the vaccine to their patients, although it is expected that Wareham Hospital will be the local vaccination hub for the Purbeck Primary Care Network (PCN). This includes Swanage Medical Practice, Corfe Castle Surgery, Wareham Surgery, Bere Regis Surgery, Sandford Surgery and The Wellbridge Practice.
List of Dorset GP hub vaccination sites
- Christchurch PCN – Stour Surgery
- North Bournemouth PCN – Talbot Medical Centre
- Shore Medical PCN – Heatherview Medical Centre, Parkstone
- Wimborne and Ferndown PCN and Crane Valley PCN – Saint Leonard’s Hospital, Ferndown
- Weymouth and Portland PCN – Weymouth Community Hospital
- Jurassic Coast PCN – Bridport Medical Centre