The Isle of Wight is in Tier One of the new Covid restrictions, it has been announced today (Thursday) - one of only thee places in England.

Earlier, government health secretary Matt Hancock thanked Island residents for their 'vigilance' in keeping down the coronavirus infection rate.

Isle of Wight MP Bob Seely has revealed that he expects a vaccine to roll out on the Island within a month.

The new restrictions, which come into force from Wednesday, are the most lenient of all.

Tier One is considered 'medium risk'. Much of the country is in either the 'high' or very high' tiers (two and three).

What will it mean?

The rule of six is back, for gatherings outside your household.

Pubs and restaurants can serve up to 10pm, and will close by 11pm.

Retail, gyms and accommodation will be open. 

Isle of Wight County Press:

The Island, Cornwall and the Scilly Isles the only areas of England in Tier One.

People can still travel to the Island from Tier Two (which includes Portsmouth Southampton, Hampshire and Bournemouth, although those in Tier Three are advised not to leave their area.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Wightlink told the Isle of Wight County Press that there was no update, in light of the disparity. Its FastCats are currently suspended and its car ferries continue to operate, between Portsmouth and the Island.

Red Funnel said: “Ahead of the current national lockdown restrictions ending next week, and following today’s announcement on local restrictions with regional tiers, we are carefully reviewing the latest government guidelines and information. As always, the safety of our customers and staff will be our main priority, and we will provide a full update to customers regarding any changes to our service or operation in the coming days.”

Isle of Wight County Press:

Matt Hancock told the House of Commons earlier: "We've taken the view travel restrictions [between tiers] should be in guidance, because there are all sorts of complicated circumstances under which people might need to travel."

During his speech he thanked Island residents.

Mr Hancock said: "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."

Isle of Wight County Press:

Mr Hancock, speaking earlier today (Thursday)

"Light at the end of the tunnel"

Island MP Bob Seely has welcomed the news.

He said: “I am grateful that the Government has listened to arguments put forward by myself and others that first, the Island should be treated as an island, and second, that we should be in the lowest tier.

“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 that 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 am also hopeful that with the vaccines, there is light at the end of the tunnel in what has been a frankly wretched year.”

"Gives us back some more freedom"

Cllr Dave Stewart, leader of the IW Council, said: ""Being in Tier One gives us back some more of the freedoms we have all battled to secure in everything we are doing to reduce the transmission of the disease.

"The gradual introduction of vaccines and testing in the coming months will assist us in this challenge."