RESTRICTIONS will remain in place at Southampton's biggest hospital despite the lifting of Government rules on Monday.

Staff, patients and visitors will still be required to wear face coverings in all areas of University Hospital Southampton, unless they are exempt, from July 19.

This hospital has confirmed that the numbers of visitors to UHS will also remain restricted except in defined and exceptional circumstances.

The policy will be "continually reviewed" and updates will be given as the local situation changes.

The measures, in line with guidance from Public Health England and rules being enforced by our healthcare partners across the county, are needed as community cases of the highly transmissible Delta variant continue to rise sharply in the wider Southampton area.

In the past seven days there were 830 new cases recorded in the city, an increase of 282 in the past week.

The UHS has said that rising number of cases combined with the city having a relatively low vaccine uptake "presents a clear and present danger" that could not only see hospital admissions rise but also "compromise hospital services".

They added that the low vaccine uptake in the city is "in part due to a younger population" within Southampton.

Gail Byrne, chief nursing officer at University Hospital Southampton, said: “We are a hospital providing care to vulnerable and immunocompromised patients which is why our COVID ZERO campaign to stop transmission to patients and protect our workforce remains paramount.

“This week has seen a further rise in the number of positive cases within the community and we must do all we can to ensure our staff are able to continue to carry out the vital work of caring for the sickest among us.

“Despite the wider easing of restrictions from Monday (July 19) there is still a vital need for protective measures to remain in place in our hospital so we can continue to recover our vital services and tackle the backlog of increased waiting lists, that have been a tragic outcome of the pandemic.”

Gail added: “We are all in this together and have come a long way – but we are far from out of the woods yet. It is the continued actions of each and every one of us that collectively will make the difference.”