Millions more people in England will face Tier 4 restrictions from 00:01 on Boxing Day, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced.
Speaking at a live press conference from Downing Street on Wednesday afternoon, Mr Hancock announced changes to the tier allocations in England that will be effective from Boxing Day.
Announcing the changes, Mr Hancock said that ‘Tier 3 is not enough to control the new variant’ of COVID-19 but said that the three-tier system is currently working well in Northern England. The Health Secretary said that it is ‘vital’ for action to be taken, as cases of COVID-19 have risen by 57% across the country in the last week and hospital admissions are now at their highest level since April.
The changes to the tier allocations will see some areas jump up two tiers, such as Norfolk which is currently in Tier 2, but moving into Tier 4. Under Tier 4, people must stay at home except for a limited number of reasons set out in law. All hospitality and entertainment venues, non-essential retail outlets and personal care services will be closed.
Changes to tier allocations from 00:01 on Boxing Day
The following areas will move into higher tiers of Coronavirus restrictions in England from 00:01 on Boxing Day;
- Norfolk, Sussex, Essex, Surrey, Oxfordshire and Hampshire will move into Tier 4
- Bristol, Somerset, Swindon, Isle of Wight, New Forest, Northamptonshire, Cheshire and Warrington will move into Tier 3
- Cornwall and Herefordshire will move into Tier 2
The announcement of changes to the tier allocations comes just before Christmas and ahead of the planned review date for the tiers on 30 December.
Recent rises in COVID-19 cases have been linked with a new variant of the virus, which is understood to be up to 70% more transmissible than the previous variant. Concerns over a rapid increase in cases of the virus led to Prime Minister Boris Johnson announcing a new ‘Tier 4’ on Saturday. Around 16 million people are already in Tier 4, which has been likened to the national lockdown measures present in England in November.
Matt Hancock reminded people to minimise their social contact over Christmas and urged the public to ‘keep our resolve’, saying that the start of 2021 ‘will be tough’, but ‘we mustn’t give up now’.