Three-quarters of England in Tier 4 from last night including all of North East and huge part of Midlands

 

As Covid-19 virus ravages US, the country’s leaders are not leaving any stone unturned in a frantic effort to keep their balance.

The news report of Sun says that three quarter of England will be plunged into Tier 4 from last night with most of the country now living in some form of lockdown.

Matt Hancock yeseday put a further 20 million people into the toughest Tier 4 and upgraded millions to Tier 3. No areas will remain Tier 2.

It comes after a worrying 981 people died yesterday of coronavirus, with 50,023 new infections.

Only 2,000 people living on the Isles of Scilly will remain in Tier 1. 

In a huge blow to the hospitality industry, it means ALL pubs - except on Scilly - will be forced to close from tonight.

A total of 44 million people will now be in Tier 4, or 78% of the population of England.

The lockdown rules will come in with just a few hours notice, meaning people won't be able to grab a last-minute New Year's pint.

All of the North-East of England - including Cumbria, Cheshire, Warrington, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Blackpool, and Blackburn with Darwen - will be thrown into Tier 4 from midnight.

Most of the West Midlands and all of the East Midlands, except Rutland will be put into Tier 4.

Areas in the South-East that were not already under Tier 4 restrictions, will also be given the tougher rules.

Mr Hancock said the draconian measures - which will close non-essential shops, all hospitality, and gyms and leisure centres - were "absolutely necessary".

Cornwall, Bath, North East Somerset, Liverpool and North Yorkshire will all be put under Tier 3.

Mr Hancock told MPs most new cases are from the new variant, which is as much as 56 per cent more contagious.

He said: "Yesterday alone, 52, 135 new cases were registered, the majority of which are believed to be the new variant.

"Unfortunately this new variant is spreading across most of England."

The Health Secretary warned "case rates are doubling fast" and there are "significant" challenges to the NHS.

"There are over 21,000 people in hospital with coronavirus right now," he said.

"And we can see the impact that this is having - the threat to life from this virus is real, and the pressures on the NHS is real too."

The number of people in hospital with coronavirus has now surpassed the April peak.

Almost 2,000 people were admitted on Christmas Day, and hospitals across the country are close to or at surge capacity.

But he confirmed he would not be introducing a Tier 5 today - though didn't rule one out in future.

Mr Hancock also vowed that the Government would follow a tiered system and avoid a third national lockdown as far as possible.

"Where it is possible to keep some of the freedoms we all cherish, we should," he told the House of Commons.

When pushed if he would introduce a level above the highest Tier 4 restrictions, he insisted: "I'm not announcing anything above Tier 4 today, no."

Nationally, Essex is the worst-affected region of England.

It came as:

A Downing Street press conference is expected this afternoon

The Oxford University/AstraZenca vaccine was approved by regulators today - with a million doses a week to be rolled out from next week

And a change in strategy is expected to take place so people can get the vaccine sooner - with ministers to prioritise the first jab and give the second within 12 weeks

More than 53,000 cases of the virus were reported yesterday

A major incident was declared in Essex over Covid as hospitals struggle to cope with demand

School pupils in some years are likely to be delayed to returning to the classroom thanks to the spike in cases


Nine councils and local leaders form the North East of England have demanded the Government consider a national lockdown - as most of the country was thrown into Tier 4.

They said: "Our view is that the Government should consider a national lockdown now to ensure the spread of the new variant is slowed and efforts can be focussed on the crucial roll-out of the vaccine.

"This is a national problem and a national solution is required now."

They added: "After a disrupted Christmas the last thing any of us wanted was further restrictions as we enter 2021 but sadly we feel this is the only sensible option to protect our health and care services and the most vulnerable in our communities."

VACCINE BOOST

Today Mr Hancock said the UK had enough coronavirus jabs ordered to vaccinate "the whole population".

Giving a glimmer of hope this morning, he said said the vaccine will help Britain out of the pandemic by spring, as cases surge across the country.

And he said the jab would "save us", as he urged everyone to follow the rules while the NHS rushed to roll out the vaccine to as many people as possible.

The UK has ordered 100 million doses of the vaccine - enough to vaccinate 50 million people.

Matt Hancock said the approval was "fantastic news" and confirmed its rollout would begin on January 4.

The Health Secretary refused to say how many people could be inoculated in the new year, but confirmed two dosed of the jab would be given 12 weeks apart.

SCHOOL'S OUT

In addition, school pupils in Years 11 and 13 are likely to be delayed from returning until Monday January 11.

Other secondary pupils have already been told their returns will be staggered to give headteachers time to install mass testing regimes in classrooms.

Ministers had previously insisted exam-year pupils in England would return to school on January 4.

Those kids are now poised to join all secondary years in starting the term remotely.

But primary schools are likely to reopen as planned as part of a compromise plan in the education sector.



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