A COMMUNITY leader has revealed it is a “great shame” Romsey and Test Valley will be thrown into Tier 2 after lockdown ends next week.

The Government announced on Thursday the county would be plunged into the ‘High Alert’ tier, meaning households cannot mix indoors, apart from support bubbles, and a maximum of six people can meet outdoors.

The new restrictions say pubs and bars must close, unless they are operating as restaurants serving ‘substantial meals’ with alcohol and venues must stop taking orders at 10pm and close by 11pm.

However, the tiers will be regularly reviewed, with the first review scheduled for December 16. This comes after the county was placed into the less restrictive Tier 1 when the three-tiered system was first introduced across England back in October.

READ: What is Tier 2? Here are all the restrictions in place from December 2 >>>

Cllr Mark Cooper, who represents Romsey Tadburn on Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC), said he was disappointed the Government chose a county-wide approach when deciding the toughened system, rather than examining the different infection rates in each local authority.

He said: “I fully support the tiered system and it is very important to stay safe, especially when we are getting nearer to the point vaccines will be available, but I would have hoped the tiers would be a little more subtle.

“It does seem like Portsmouth and Southampton have a greater number of cases than Test Valley, so it is unfortunate we have been lumped in with the urban areas.

Romsey Advertiser: Cllr Mark CooperCllr Mark Cooper

“But, I suppose it is the fact we happen to live near a city and I just hope there is a degree of flexibility here so Tier 2 does not go on for too long.”

He added: “I feel very sorry for young people who are effectively having to shield in order to protect older people from catching the disease.”

READ: Christmas Covid-19 rules - here's what you need to know >>>

Leader of TVBC, Cllr Nick Adams-King, said: “It is certainly disappointing for our hospitality businesses, but I understand why the Government has taken the county-wide approach.

“Our case rates have been consistently below the rest of the country, so I hope that will be recognised when they review the tiers on December 16.”

However, two community leaders backed the harsher restrictions, believing it will help motivate the public to drive down coronavirus cases.

Cllr Dorothy Baverstock, who represents the Romsey Cupernham ward, said: “I think we are in the right tier because we have not had a huge rise in cases like in other parts of the country, but I do think it would be wrong for us to be in Tier 1 because that would make us very complacent and we are not out of the woods yet.

“I think these restrictions will help keep people’s minds focused and if we want to get down to Tier 1 we will have to make a mammoth effort to get our R rate down in the area.”

Romsey Advertiser: Cllr Dorothy BaverstockCllr Dorothy Baverstock

READ: Map reveals coronavirus infection rates in and around Romsey >>>

Cllr Alan Dowden, who represents the Valley Park ward, said: “I prefer to have a more stringent tier to be perfectly honest, because if we relax the rules so much I know what will happen.

“People want to be with their families at Christmas, but with a vaccine on the horizon the last thing we want is another lockdown - for everybody’s safety I prefer Tier 2.”