England has been put on notice for a New Year lockdown after the government’s chief scientific adviser warned that an extension of Tier 4 restrictions may be needed.
With the new variant now surging across the UK, an announcement that large areas of England will join London and parts of southeast England in Tier 4 is expected on Wednesday, 30 December, when the next review of the tier system is due.
The clampdown is expected to come into force in the New Year.
The rapid spread of the virus means the COVID-19 crisis facing Boris Johnson is dramatically escalating, with the chaos at Channel ports caused by the French travel ban expected to last at least until Christmas Eve.
The executive is also urging anyone arriving in Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK to self-isolate for 10 days.
The looming Tier 4 extension in England follows a warning from England’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance on Monday during a Downing Street news conference alongside the prime minister.
Although he said a decision on Tier 4 areas was for politicians, Sir Patrick said cases had spread “everywhere” and warned the country to brace itself for further restrictions.
“The evidence on this virus is that it spreads easily,” he said. “It’s more transmissible, we absolutely need to make sure we have the right level of restrictions in place.
“I think it is likely that this will grow in numbers of the variant across the country and I think it’s likely, therefore, that measures will need to be increased in some places, in due course, not reduced.”
And on Tier 4 measures, he urged the public to take the new COVID variant “incredibly seriously” and said it required “more action in order to keep it down and that’s why Tier 4 is important”.
More to follow…