Millions more people in the east and south east of England are to enter tier four on Boxing Day, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced.
Somerset moves up to Tier 3 and Cornwall to Tier 2 but apparently no change in Devon – Owl
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The places moving into the highest level of restrictions – which include a “stay at home” order – border the areas already in tier four.
A number of areas will also move up into tiers three and two.
Mr Hancock also revealed that another new coronavirus variant from South Africa has been detected in the UK.
He said anyone who had been there in the last two weeks must quarantine immediately.
The health secretary told the Downing Street briefing the old tiering system was not enough to control the new variant of the virus.
He said cases had been rising in some of the places close to where the current tier four restrictions are, such as East Anglia, which had seen a “significant number” of the new fast-spreading variant.
“It is therefore necessary to put more of the East and South East of England into tier four.”
Areas moving to tier four are: Sussex, Oxfordshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Hampshire, with the exception of the New Forest, and the parts of Essex and Surrey not already in the toughest restrictions.
Mr Hancock also announced that other areas would move into higher tiers.
Areas moving to tier three are: Bristol, Gloucestershire, Somerset, including the North Somerset council area, Swindon, the Isle of Wight, the New Forest and Northamptonshire as well as Cheshire and Warrington.
Cornwall and Herefordshire will move into tier 2.
The health secretary also said two cases have been detected of another new variant of the coronavirus in the UK.
Both were contacts of cases who have travelled from South Africa over the past few weeks, he said.
He said: “This new variant is highly concerning because it is yet more transmissible and it appears to have mutated further than the new variant that has been discovered in the UK.”
The health secretary said both cases and close contacts of the cases have been quarantined.
There are immediate restrictions on travel from South Africa and the government is telling those who have been in contact with anyone who has been in South Africa in the last fortnight that they must quarantine.
He added: “These measures are temporary while we investigate further this new strain which is shortly to be analysed at Porton Down.”