Swindon and Wiltshire have maintained their Tier 2 Covid alert status over Christmas.
There had been speculation that Swindon would move into the higher Tier 3 – where businesses face tougher trading restrictions – after cases increased by 10 percent in the space of a week.
The latest available figures suggest the case rate is 267 people per 100,000 in Swindon, and 77 people per 100,000 in Wiltshire.
Health secretary Matt Hancock told Parliament today: "No one wants tougher restrictions any longer than necessary. But where they are necessary, we must put them in place to prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed and protect life.
Tier 2 status means that:
- Businesses and venues can remain open in a COVID secure manner, other than those that are closed by law
- Pubs and bars may not provide alcohol for consumption on the premises, unless with a substantial meal, so they are operating as a restaurant. They may remain open for takeaway services
- Hospitality businesses selling food or drink for consumption on their premises are required to provide table service only. In premises that sell alcohol, they need to close between 11pm and 5am with some exemptions, and stop taking orders after 10pm
- Hospitality venues that do not serve alcohol may allow someone to order from the counter, but they must still consume their meal from a seat if eating in
- Leisure centres and libraries will remain open
- Outdoor street markets will continue to sell full range of items
Cllr Philip Whitehead, leader of Wiltshire Council, said: "Thanks to everyone's efforts, the Covid-19 case numbers in Wiltshire have been heading in the right direction over the last few weeks, and remaining in Tier 2 gives us the opportunity to maintain that progress.
"Christmas will be a crucial time and we really want to avoid a surge in cases come the new year, so we ask people to be as sensible as they can and that will put us in good stead as we head towards a more hopeful and brighter 2021."
Much of the south-east has gone into the more restrictive Tier 3, joining the Midlands and the North. With the exception of South Gloucestershire, most of the South West – including Bristol – remains or moves into Tier 2.