Residents are being urged to not “go silly” over the Christmas period to avoid a “major problem” and the possibility of harsher coronavirus restrictions in January.

Romsey, as well as much of the South East, is now under Tier 2 rules, in spite of its very low case rates.

This means indoor mixing between households is not allowed (apart from support bubbles) and pubs, bars and restaurants can only provide alcohol with a substantial meal.

However, for a local councillor, the worry is not so much about the tier system but rather how people will behave over Christmas.

Cllr Alan Dowden, who represents Baddesley on the county council, said: “The last thing I would like to see is for people to come together too much during Christmas resulting in Covid escalating and potentially another lockdown in January which is the last thing any of us can afford not only on a financial basis but also for health reasons.

“There are some restrictions and we’ll continue to have restrictions but I hope people won’t go silly and create a major problem in the new year. We want to try and suppress this once and for all.”

Non-essential retail in the town and everywhere else in England has now reopened and opening hours Monday to Saturday have been extended to support struggling high streets.

Cllr Dowden says he welcomes the move as it gives people the chance to shop at times where stores might be a bit quieter, limiting the number of shoppers they will come into contact with.

Cllr Dowden also added shoppers should consider wearing a mask when they are outside to make the town’s streets even safer.

“Particularly with a vaccine which is heading our way, it would be rather silly to throw everything away,” he said.

Talking about Romsey being placed in Tier 2, MP Caroline Nokes said: “Obviously I am disappointed we have been placed in Tier 2, and alongside other Hampshire MPs I have been lobbying Ministers to see tiers determined along Borough / District boundaries rather than as a whole counties.

“We have seen good progress with the infection rate dropping in Southampton and I would like to pay tribute to Professor Godfrey and his team for the roll out of the saliva testing pilot which has clearly played a significant role in the city.

“It looks like the Hampshire “hotspot” is Portsmouth and Havant, which perhaps could be separated from the rest of the county as Slough has been from Berkshire.”

The tier system will be in place until December 23 when members of the public will be allowed to form a Christmas bubble with two other households until December 27.