18 December 2020 04:32
Tier 3 Covid restrictions will be extended across a huge swathe of east and south east England, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced. The latest change means from Saturday a total of 38 million people will be living under the toughest Covid restrictions - 68% of the population of England. The health secretary said cases are up 46% across the south east of England in the last week, while hospital admissions are up by a third. But the government decided to take a more cautious approach, perhaps due to the easing of restrictions over the Christmas period. The announcement that Manchester stays in Tier 3 is "bitterly disappointing", the city's council leader said.
Sir Richard Leese said: "Without a Covid-safe hospitality offer during Christmas week we now run the risk of people finding other ways to socialise which will only increase the number of infections." Manchester MP Andrew Gwynne says the region has become "arbitrarily" trapped in Tier 3 and is being "held back" due to the government's Christmas rules. Tier 1: Up to six people can meet indoors or outdoors. People can only meet outdoors in limited places such as parks and public gardens. People in all tiers to work from home where they can do so. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Wednesday there would be no changes to the Christmas rules, so three households can join together from December 23-27, but he urged the public to take personal responsibility.
The health secretary Matt Hancock has confirmed that Peterborough will enter Tier 3 restrictions from Saturday, December 19. Mr Hancock made the announcement to the House of Commons today (December 17) at just after 11.40am. Already many towns in Essex and Hertfordshire, as well as many London boroughs have been moved into Tier 3, and new tier changes are expected for other hard-hit regions. A number of places across the East of England, including Bedfordshire were also confirmed to be moved into stricter conditions this morning. The new tiers will come into affect at one minute past midnight on Saturday (December 19) morning.
It was expected that Peterborough would be moved into tougher restrictions as its current infection rate is higher than the 19 places moved into Tier 3 yesterday (December 16). Places that go into Tier 3 will see pubs and restaurants closing, although they can offer takeaway. In a speech yesterday, Boris Johnson said that the five-day relaxation of restrictions at Christmas would not be scrapped despite pressure to change the plan. In England people are allowed to form a Christmas bubble of up to three households from December 23 to 27 but Mr Johnson urged people to think of that as a maximum allowance and not a target to aim for. We'll have live updates on Matt Hancock's speech today, as well as further information on what Tier 3 could mean for Cambridgeshire below: The Government has today announced that Oxfordshire will remain in Tier 2 High Alert restrictions for coronavirus. "We think it's appropriate that we remain in Tier 2 for now, but it's worrying that cases are rising so quickly after lockdown. I am urging everyone in Oxford to be careful with the schools breaking up this week and throughout the Christmas period, if we are to avoid going into Tier 3 in the new year. People need to be especially careful in any indoor setting, stick to the rules on social groups, mask up and distance in shared spaces. Winter always kills, but this year more than ever we need to take care of the vulnerable." Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of Oxford City Council The Director of Public Health for Oxfordshire has also issued a warning that cases across the county have increased nearly 50% in the last week, and urged people to take personal responsibility. "Unless we all take personal responsibility as individuals and families throughout the coming weeks, we risk creating a situation in January that will see steeply rising numbers of cases at exactly the time of year when viruses thrive. "We therefore all need to be extra vigilant in the run-up to Christmas and to think carefully about our plans over the festive period. People across the county are also being urged to get a test if they think they have symptoms. Testing centres will be open all through the holiday period, the best way to stop the spread is to self-isolate if you have symptoms and get a test. During the Christmas period, the opening hours at regional, local and mobile testing units will be as follows: The regional testing centre at Oxford Parkway will close for 24 hours on 22 December for refurbishment work. Northamptonshire will remain in Tier Two under the Government's Covid Winter Plan... Health Secretary Matt Hancock revealed the county risk level can continue as 'high risk' — but experts will carry out a further review in another two weeks' time. But neighbouring areas of Peterborough, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire WILL be put into the 'very high risk' areas with Tier Three restrictions. The Government has said decisions on tier levels are based on a number of factors including case detection rates in all age groups and, in particular, among the over 60s. How quickly case rates are rising or falling will also be taken into account, as will local pressure on the NHS, including current and projected capacity. Northamptonshire was put into tier two when the Government carved up the country two weeks ago with a promise the tiers would be reviewed by December 16. Since then, the number of positive tests daily has risen significantly in Northampton — but not in other parts of the county. Health Secretary Matt Hancock made his announcement in the Commons today Northampton Borough Council leader Jonathan Nunn warned last week: "I have no prior knowledge of tiers at this stage, but just look at those numbers. "We almost have to be ready to expect to be in Tier Three as there is a very strong possibility. Here's how the number of positive Covid-19 tests has changed across Northamptonshire since the lockdown was announced A second review is now expected on December 23 — the day the Government's Christmas 'window' opens — with changes likely to come into effect on December 28. From December 23 to December 27, people can form one Christmas bubble made up of people from no more than three households although the PM yesterday warned this is a maximum number and not a target and advised "a smaller Christmas and a shorter Christmas is going to be a safer Christmas." Current Tier Two restrictions will continue to apply everywhere else — so pubs can only serve drinks to those eating substantial meals. If Northamptonshire is put into Tier Three, it would likely mean no households mixing with pubs and restaurants being forced to close or operate as takeaways only on New Year's Eve.