Preston and Lancashire will remain in tier-3 restrictions as the government announced a major update to the tiers system.Advertisement
Large parts of the South East and East of England will move into tier-4 restrictions, which includes a ‘stay at home’ order, from 00.01 on Boxing Day.
Health secretary Matt Hancock announced the changes during a press conference on Wednesday (23 December).
No changes to the existing Christmas restrictions, which allow those in tier-3 to meet with up to three other households indoors on Christmas Day, were announced.
Read more: Lancashire public health chief warns of ‘Christmas mixing risks’
The health secretary said of Christmas: “We simply cannot have the kind of Christmas that we all yearn for.
“It’s the social contact that makes Xmas so special. It’s social contact that spreads the virus,
“It’s important we all minimise our social contact this Christmas. It will help protect ourselves, our loved ones and the whole country.
“We’ve got to keep our resolve. We’ve got to keep going.”
You can watch the full press conference below
Mr Hancock said the existing three-tier system had been effective at driving down the original coronavirus strain – ‘especially in Northern England’.
He said the fast rise in cases from the new mutation of the Covid virus meant more areas needed to go into tier-4 restrictions.
Read more: People arriving in Lancashire from tier-4 areas urged to get a Covid test
But he did not rule out a move to tier-4 if the number of cases of the new variant increased in Lancashire and elsewhere.
He said: “Tier-3 is not enough to control the new variant. It’s not a hypothesis, it’s a fact and we’ve seen it on the ground.”
See the latest coronavirus cases and information near you
England has seen a 57 per cent increase in Covid increases in the past week, more than 18,000 people are now in hospital across the country with coronavirus and 691 deaths were reported yesterday – moving back to levels not seen since the Spring peak.
The existing tier decisions were due to be reviewed on December 30.
Mr Hancock also gave worrying news about another new strain of coronavirus.
He said the virus appeared to have mutated further, beginning in South Africa. It’s understood to be more transmissible than the existing coronavirus.
Mr Hancock said anyone who is discovered with the South African mutation must quarantine as must close contacts of those identified with the virus.
Read more: Lancashire health chief says ‘new Covid variant’ is ‘highly likely’ to be in the county already
Anyone in England who has been in South Africa in the past fortnight, or in close contact with anyone who has been in South Africa, they must quarantine and restrict all contact with any other person.
He said laws were being changed to enforce anyone with the South African variant to comply with quarantine.
Community testing is due to be expanded to see care home workers receive two rapid tests per week.
Mr Hancock said more council areas would be receiving the rapid Covid tests to try and root out the one in three people who carry the virus without displaying any symptoms.
See where the Covid-19 vaccine is being administered near you
And he gave some good news on the Oxford Astrazenica virus, which doesn’t need to same level of cooling as the Pfizer vaccine, which has now been submitted to the medical regulators for approval.
Read more: See the latest Preston news and headlines