WAVERLEY and East Hampshire are to remain in ‘tier 2’ despite a tightening of Covid-19 restrictions across the South East.

A planned Christmas relaxation of Covid rules has been scrapped for large parts of the South East and cut to just Christmas Day for the rest of England and Wales.

But Waverley, which was confirmed as the only Surrey borough to avoid a tier 3 ’very high’ alert level, earlier this week, has escaped a scaling up of further restrictions and will remain in tier 2.

From midnight tonight, new tier 4 restrictions will apply in all areas in the South East currently in tier three, including Kent, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Surrey (excluding Waverley), Gosport, Havant, Portsmouth, Rother and Hastings.

Commenting on the announcement, the MP for South West Surrey, Mr Hunt, posted on Twitter: "Just spoken to [health secretary] Matt Hancock who has confirmed to me that Waverley is staying in tier 2 which will be a relief to many - but reassured him we will remain totally vigilant and play our part to keep virus under control.

"All advised to avoid household mixing at Christmas unless essential."

Waverley Borough Council deputy leader Paul Follows also confirmed Waverley is to retain its tier 2 status, but with a plea for residents to remain vigilant.

He said: "I must stress, that even though we are not in tier 4 here in Waverley my advice has to be caution and personal judgement over and above the specific rules here in Waverley.

Please, please do not be complacent. This would be the absolute worst time to do anything than to follow the public health advice to the letter."

Councillor Keith Mans, leader of Hampshire County Council, said: “Central Government has confirmed that the local authority areas of Havant Borough and Gosport Borough will come under Covid-19 tier 4 restrictions from tomorrow. This new tier will be broadly the same as the national restrictions in place in November. The rest of the Hampshire County Council local authority area will remain in tier 2 (High).

“As well as outlining these new tighter restrictions, the Prime Minister also announced changes to previous plans for the festive period. People now living in tier 4 areas should not mix with anyone outside their own household at Christmas, although support bubbles will remain in place for those at particular risk of loneliness or isolation. 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.

“While the announcement just days before Christmas may understandably come as a disappointment to many, 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.

“We must continue to work together, follow the rules and protect ourselves, our loved ones and our communities, especially with the threat of a new COVID-19 variant spreading much faster in Tier 4 areas, and the ongoing rise in infections in general across the country.”

The key restrictions for Tier 4 require:

* Residents to stay at home, apart from limited exemptions set out in law.

* Non-essential retail, indoor gyms and leisure facilities, and personal care services to close.

* People to work from home if they can but they may travel to work if this is not possible, for example in the construction and manufacturing sectors.

* People not to enter or leave Tier 4 areas, and Tier 4 residents must not stay overnight away from home. Individuals can only meet one person from another household in an outdoor public space.

* Unlike the November national restrictions, communal worship can continue to take place in Tier 4 areas.

In addition, remember ‘hands, face, space’ and, if you have symptoms, however mild, follow self-isolation guidance and get a test.

The full government rules and guidance for tier 2 can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/tier-2-high-alert

The next Government review of the tier system in England is still expected to take place on Wednesday, December 30.