COVID-19: Three quarters of England will be in Tier 4 from tomorrow as rules extended

·5-min read

Millions more people are facing tighter restrictions after the government announced an extension of Tier 4 rules in England in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that although the changes will "place a significant burden on people, and especially on businesses affected", they were "absolutely necessary because of the number of cases that we've seen".

He told MPs: "Sharply rising cases and the hospitalisations that follow demonstrate the need to act where the virus is spreading."

Mr Hancock confirmed that the remaining parts of the South East currently not in Tier 4 will be under the new restrictions within hours, along with the North East, and large parts of the Midlands, the North West and the South West.

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He was speaking as concerns grow about a new variant of the virus, which appears to be more transmissible and which he said was "now spreading across most of England".

The changes will move an additional 20 million people into Tier 4, meaning a total of 44 million people (78% of England's population) will be in that toughest tier.

Tier 4 restrictions include a warning to stay at home, a limit on household mixing to two people outdoors, and the closure of non-essential shops, as well as hairdressers and gyms.

Areas that will be covered by the Tier 4 rules from 00.01am on Thursday are:

  • Leicester City

  • Leicestershire - Oadby and Wigston, Harborough, Hinckley and Bosworth, Blaby, Charnwood, North West Leicestershire, Melton

  • Lincolnshire - City of Lincoln, Boston, South Kesteven, West Lindsey, North Kesteven, South Holland, East Lindsey

  • Northamptonshire - Corby, Daventry, East Northamptonshire, Kettering, Northampton, South Northamptonshire, Wellingborough

  • Derby and Derbyshire - Derby, Amber Valley, South Derbyshire, Bolsover, North East Derbyshire, Chesterfield, Erewash, Derbyshire Dales, High Peak

  • Nottingham and Nottinghamshire - Gedling, Ashfield, Mansfield, Rushcliffe, Bassetlaw, Newark and Sherwood, Nottinghamshire, Broxtowe

  • Birmingham and Black Country - Dudley, Birmingham, Sandwell, Walsall, Wolverhampton

  • Coventry

  • Solihull

  • Warwickshire - Rugby, Nuneaton and Bedworth, Warwick, North Warwickshire, Stratford-upon-Avon

  • Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent - East Staffordshire, Stafford, South Staffordshire, Cannock Chase, Lichfield, Staffordshire Moorlands, Newcastle under Lyme, Tamworth, Stoke-on-Trent

  • Lancashire - Burnley, Pendle, Blackburn with Darwen, Ribble Valley, Blackpool, Preston, Hyndburn, Chorley, Fylde, Lancaster, Rossendale, South Ribble, West Lancashire, Wyre

  • Cheshire and Warrington - Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester, Warrington

  • Cumbria - Eden, Carlisle, South Lakeland, Barrow-in-Furness, Copeland, Allerdale

  • Greater Manchester - Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, Wigan

  • Tees Valley - Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, Stockton-on-Tees

  • North East - County Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside, Sunderland

  • Gloucestershire - Gloucester, Forest of Dean, Cotswolds, Tewkesbury, Stroud, Cheltenham

  • Somerset council - Mendip, Sedgemoor, Somerset West and Taunton, South Somerset

  • Swindon

  • Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole

  • Isle of Wight

  • New Forest

Also, the following areas will move to Tier 3 at the same time:

  • Rutland

  • Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin

  • Worcestershire (Bromsgrove, Malvern Hills, Redditch, Worcester, Wychavon, Wyre Forest)

  • Herefordshire

  • Liverpool City Region (Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, Sefton, Wirral, St Helens)

  • York & North Yorkshire (Scarborough, Hambleton, Richmondshire, Selby, Craven, Ryedale, Harrogate, City of York)

  • Bath and North East Somerset

  • Devon, Plymouth, Torbay (East Devon, Exeter, Mid Devon, North Devon, South Hams, Teignbridge, Torridge, West Devon, Plymouth, Torbay)

  • Cornwall

  • Dorset

  • Wiltshire

This will mean 12 million people will be in Tier 3 - 22% of England's population.

There will be no areas in Tier 2 and the Isles of Scilly will stay in Tier 1.

The changes come after two days when more than 50,000 new cases of the virus were reported - 50,023 on Wednesday and 53,135 on Tuesday.

Also on Wednesday, the government announced that a second COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for use and can be distributed from 4 January.

Mr Hancock said the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine "is our way out of the pandemic".

Earlier, he told Sky News: "It's very good news for accelerating the vaccine rollout. It brings forward the day we can get our lives back to normal."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that he hoped restrictions will be over by the spring, thanks to the vaccine programme.

He said: "If we're right and the vaccination programme does have the positive effects that we think it can have, and I stress these are ifs, then clearly a lot of the non pharmaceutical interventions...will recede into the past.

"We'll be able to do things very differently."

However, the focus on "basic disciplines" such as proper hand-washing and wearing masks might have to be done for "a while after".

Some MPs reacted angrily to the tier changes, Poole's Conservative MP Sir Robert Syms among them.

He said "health nutters" were "determined to ruin businesses", saying: "Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole have an infection rate of about 220 per 100,000. We're being moved up two tiers into Tier 4 with some areas like Thurrock that have seven times the infection rate.

"People turning up to spend New Year in Bournemouth hotels are being turned around with less than eight hours' notice and being sent home. This is a disaster for local businesses.

"If the health nutters are determined to ruin businesses in Dorset can they at least set out a clear criteria for why they are doing it?"

The 142,000 residents of the Isle of Wight will have moved from Tier 1 to Tier 4 in just a week after the number of infections rocketed.

In the seven days to 28 November the district recorded a rate of 31.0 cases per 100,000 people, but the most recent data for the week to 25 December shows a rate of 212.3.

The area was moved from Tier 1 to Tier 3 on Boxing Day and the leader of its council Dave Stewart said that "all of the good work we have been doing to protect our island community from this virus seems to have been undone in a very short space of time".