The Mayor of Bedford is urging residents to continue playing their part in halting the spread of coronavirus as the county moves into more local restrictions.
From today (Wednesday) Bedford Borough, Central Bedfordshire and Luton will move into tier two restrictions, having spent the past month in the national lockdown.
In the last few weeks Bedfordshire has started to see the positive impact of people reducing their contact with others, with the number of new cases each week starting to reduce, although cases still remain very high in Luton.
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It is also expected to take some time before this impact is felt on reducing hospital admissions and, sadly, deaths.
Coronavirus remains a danger in communities across the county, prompting local leaders to urge Bedfordshire residents not to get complacent and keep up the good work.
Bedford Mayor Dave Hodgson said: “Coronavirus is spread through social contact - through us seeing people.
"That is why we are being asked to not mix indoors with other households that are not part of our support bubble, and to meet outdoors in groups of no more than six.
“In the run-up to Christmas, please continue to be cautious and do everything you can to keep slowing the spread of coronavirus.
“By minimising social contact with those outside of your household, by washing your hands regularly, wearing a face covering if you can, and keeping two metres apart from other people you will be helping to keep yourself, your friends and family, and your community safe.”
Tier two restrictions prevent people from meeting anyone they do not live with or are not in a support bubble with indoors.
The rule of six applies to socialising outdoors, as only six people from different households can meet in outdoor open spaces, including private gardens.
Shops and businesses can open in a Covid secure fashion, while pubs and restaurants can serve alcohol with substantial meals. They must stop taking orders at 10pm and close at 11pm.
People living in tier two areas must continue to follow these rules when they travel to a tier one area and avoid travel and overnight stays in tier three areas unless absolute necessary, such as for work, education or medical treatment.
Police will continue to run patrols to enforce the rules, working alongside local authority colleagues and particularly targeting areas identified as persistently breaching the restrictions.
Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway said: “If we want to make sure that our families and those closest to us are safe when we have increased freedom at Christmas to mix as up to three households, we’re going to have to take the greatest care as shops, hospitality, gyms and personal grooming businesses open up.
“I have to say that I’ve been really impressed by the way this county has adapted to mask-wearing, social distancing even when outside and showing one another real courtesy when inside in places like supermarkets.
“Let’s keep it up and enjoy the happy and safe Christmas that we - and all our relatives of whatever age - can enjoy. Goodness knows we all deserve a good one after a year like this!"