PEOPLE have been told to abide by the rules to "keep Herefordshire open" during the coronavirus pandemic.

As more areas face tighter restrictions to limit the spread of coronavirus, the leader of Herefordshire Council has said the future of the county is "in our hands".

Councillor David Hitchiner said: "This is a critical stage of the pandemic in England and I encourage everyone in Herefordshire to continue playing their part in keeping the impact of Covid on our communities as low as possible.

"Even if cases in counties around us rise, we must keep the infection rate as low as possible here in Herefordshire to protect the high proportion of older residents and limit the pressure on our hospital.

"The picture is changing daily however our current level of cases reflects a number of factors.

"These include the rural nature of the county, community resilience, the way the public sector partners work together to provide a response unique to Herefordshire and the public's adherence to the guidance."

He said he wanted to ensure schools stay open, care home residents are kept safe and hospitals can treat all patients. Coun Hitchiner also said he wanted to see the economy stay as strong as possible.

"We can keep Herefordshire open and we can emerge from the pandemic with as little damage as possible – if we all play our part," he added.

"We can help the county progress to a bright future but we must keep the virus in check and also support local businesses. Every action, however small, to achieve this adds to our combined effort.

"Please continue to follow the guidance on regular hand washing, social distancing (keeping two metres apart), meeting in groups of no more than six people, and using face coverings in shops and other enclosed spaces outside the home.

"If you are contacted by NHS Test and Trace, it is vital to our community that you self-isolate.

"The future of the county is in our hands."