Health secretary Matt Hancock has again praised the Isle of Wight population for its vigilance, as it became only one of three areas in England placed into the new lowest Tier One for Covid restrictions. 

Along with Cornwall and the Scilly Isles, the Isle of Wight has the lowest level of restrictions, allowing pubs to open and sports centres, shops and schools to function.

Mr Hancock told the House of Commons this morning: "The lowest case rates are in Cornwall, the Isle of Wight and the Isles of Scilly, which will go into Tier One.

"In all three areas, they've had very low case rates throughout. I want to thank residents for being so vigilant during the whole pandemic."

Mr Hancock has previously praised the Island for its role in the test and trace app trails, saying "Where the Isle of Wight leads, the rest of the country follows."

In a statement from Isle of Wight MP Bob Seely said he was grateful the government listened to arguments to treat the Island as an island and put residents in the lowest tier.

He said: "This is a sensible approach and a recognition of the fact that not only do we have relatively low infection rates on the Island, but our separation by sea from the mainland acts as a natural barrier to the spread of the virus.

"Island businesses have suffered as a result of the second lockdown. I hope those that have been forced to close will now reopen and I hope that for those Islanders now doing their Christmas shopping, we will do our best to support local Island-owned businesses. 

"I spoke with officials last night about the roll out of the vaccine on the Isle of Wight, which should start within a month.  I hope that this will mark the beginning of the end of the pandemic and we can look forward to Easter with optimism.

"I want to thank again the NHS and care home staff for their vital work over the last few months, and the Council for their work.

"It is clear that there are significant lessons to learn over how we have tackled the coronavirus pandemic, and how Government functions. For now, I am satisfied that we have been placed in tier one and that the Government has listened to us.  I am also hopeful that with the vaccines, there is light at the end of the tunnel in what has been a frankly wretched year.”