When the national lockdown comes to an end next week, Bristol will be in Tier 3, the highest level of restrictions. A summary of what this means is below.

I know it will be very difficult for anyone desperate to visit friends and family or wanting to get back to previous routines. I also know from talking to many of you over the last months that this will be very hard for businesses, including hundreds of pubs and restaurants in Bristol, which cannot open. I am particularly concerned for the people whose jobs rely on this trade.

Although we are all tired of this situation, the arguments for following health guidance are stronger than ever.

COVID-19 infection rates were relatively low in Bristol during the summer, but that has now changed. Cases have increased fast in recent weeks, particularly in older people but also in other groups, so we need to be more careful than ever.

The evidence from other regions is that being in Tier 3 does bring down the rates of infection and reduces the strain on the NHs . This is vital for us all.

We will soon have the vaccine – vaccines in fact, as there are three now coming towards the final testing stages and the NHS is now planning the roll-out, starting with the key workers and most vulnerable people. That gives us hope, but we are not there yet and in any case this process may take months, so we need to keep helping each other to stay safe and to reduce risk.

I know most people want to be able to spend time with wider families this Christmas, especially after the difficult year we have had. To make this special time and the coming months safer and to help make sure we can get businesses open and people back to work soon, please follow the rules over this next month and do whatever you can to avoid unsafe contact with others. If transmission levels are kept low, we may avoid a deadly third wave in the New Year.

If you have questions about the science of COVID-19, I recommend watching this Q&A I recently held with internationally renowned experts at the University of Bristol. I asked them a wide range of questions suggested by constituents, including questions on vaccines, lockdowns, how to avoid the virus and how safe schools are.

I’ll also be posting information about how you can support local businesses and jobs, and how you can volunteer to support people who are isolated this winter, on my blog over the coming days.

Please take care, stay safe and help each other.

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