Coronavirus: Tier 4 to expand as new strain spreads
Boxing Day lockdown for more of southern and eastern England
Millions of Britons will wake up to a Christmas hangover this weekend as Tier 4 Covid rules are extended to the east and west of London.
The strict measures, which ban household mixing and force restaurants, bars, gyms and hairdressers to close, were announced on Saturday for the area around the capital, in which a new and highly infectious strain of Covid-19 has taken hold.
“The new variant of the virus is focused in the South East and East of England, but has spread to all corners of the UK,” says The Sun.
From one minute past midnight on Boxing Day, Tier 4 restrictions will apply to Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Oxfordshire, Sussex, Waverley in Surrey, Hampshire apart from the New Forest and the parts of Essex not already included.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick had said this morning that a decision was imminent. “We've now had time to think again about whether further action is required in other parts of the country,” he told Sky News. “That’s the decision the prime minister and other ministers will need to take.”
According to The Times, ministers “brought forward the review of rules from 30 December as alarm mounts about the growing infection rate across the country”.
A record 36,804 people tested positive for Covid-19 yesterday, the largest daily figure recorded yet. However, the infection rate was almost certainly higher in the spring, when testing was more limited.
Labour leader Keir Starmer, who ordered his MPs to abstain when the tier system was reintroduced earlier this month, said his party would now back tighter controls, including a national lockdown if necessary. Boris Johnson should act without delay, he added. “If you’re advised to take tougher action, take it, do it, act with speed,” he told BBC Breakfast. “Don't be behind the curve again.”