“The hard work of Herefordians over these past weeks has not been enough to allow us to come out of the national lockdown into Tier 1. We have asked our residents to sacrifice so much this year and I was hoping that, given the falling case rate in Herefordshire that we would be able to emerge into Tier 1. While I am disappointed, I note that only the very remotest parts of the Country are now in Tier 1. I am sure that the continued selflessness of our people will enable us to drop a tier as soon as possible.

Herefordshire is currently rated 160.3/100,000 which is falling, while Cornwall in tier 1 is on 62.4 cases per 100,000. While our rates continue to fall I am optimistic that lives will be saved until we are allowed to vaccinate. I will be questioning the statistics as I believe there are 23 Covid patients in Wye Valley Trust area and spare capacity in Hereford Hospital.

Nevertheless, I welcome the news that all shops will be permitted to open up once more.

Herefordshire has so many excellent independent retailers that will need Christmas footfall after an unimaginably tough year and we should all do our utmost to support them in a Covid-secure manner.

Today’s announcement will also be a boost to our many wonderful pubs who will now be able to re-open providing they offer a substantial meal – which is defined as a full breakfast, main lunchtime or evening meal!

Given the need to lift these restrictions on us all, it is excellent news that the vaccine being developed in Oxford is 90% effective when administered in two doses.

There are still final safety checks ahead, and so I asked the Prime Minister after his statement to the House if he will revisit the new tiered restrictions if the vaccine is approved in the coming days.

Until that time we must all remain safe and vigilant.”