Millions more join tier 4 Covid restrictions in England from Boxing Day | World news

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Millions more people in England are set to be plunged into the toughest tier 4 restrictions from Boxing Day, it has been confirmed, as the government grapples to contain the new fast-spreading Covid variant.

After ministers met on Wednesday morning to hammer out plans to combat a rising number of infections, the health secretary, Matt Hancock, announced that Oxfordshire, most of Hampshire, West Sussex, the whole of East Sussex, as well as Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire – most parts of which are currently in tier 2 – would be placed under the toughest curbs on Saturday.

Parts of Essex not already in tier 4 and Waverley in Surrey will join them.

The areas join nearly 18 million people living in London, the south-east and east of England who have endured tier 4 “stay at home” restrictions – including the closure of non-essential shops and strict one-on-one meeting limits outside between households – since Sunday.

Ahead of the announcement, a briefing for MPs with the health minister Nadhim Zahawi descended into chaos when some were unable to join because of a 100-person limit on the Zoom call.

The announcement came as it emerged on Wednesday that the estimated “R” number – the average number of people to whom one infected person will go on to spread the virus – has risen from between 1.1 and 1.3, up from 1.1 and 1.2 last week.

Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have announced their own strict nationwide restrictions in recent days in an attempt to contain the new coronavirus variant, which is said to be up to 70% more infectious.

Earlier on Wednesday, the communities secretary, Robert Jenrick, said the government did not plan to impose a third national lockdown in England but that it wanted to make sure the tiered system was “sufficiently robust” to get the disease under control.

Uk coronavirus cases

Describing the new Covid variant as a “significant gamechanger”, Jenrick said it was now prevalent outside London and south-east England, although it was still much more concentrated in and around the capital.

“What we want to do now is just make sure that the tiered system is right, that it’s sufficiently robust, that it can withstand and do the job, which is to keep the virus under control, even in these new changed circumstances,” he added.

There are nearly 1.4 million people living in Hampshire, according to the Office for National Statistics’ mid-2019 estimate. A further 863,980 people live in West Sussex, 761, 359 in Suffolk, 691,667 in Oxfordshire and 557,229 in East Sussex, according to the same figures.

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Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Millions more join tier 4 Covid restrictions in England from Boxing Day | World news

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