LONDON: The Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said More parts of the east and south-east of England will be facing the toughest coronavirus rules from Saturday. Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Hertfordshire will be subject to tier three rules, as will parts of Surrey, East Sussex, Cambridgeshire and Hampshire.
Most areas that are already in tier three will remain there.
Bristol and North Somerset will move from tier three to tier two, and Herefordshire will move from tier two into tier one. The changes come into effect at 00:01 on Saturday. They mean that 68% of England’s population – 38 million people – will be living in tier three from the weekend. Some 30% of the population will be in tier two, while just 2% will be in tier one.
Announcing the outcome of the first formal review of the new tiering system in England, Mr Hancock said “no-one wants tougher restrictions any longer than necessary”.
However, he said “these are always the most difficult months for people’s health” and we “must keep suppressing this virus”.
Large swathes of southern England will be placed under Tier 3 restrictions from Saturday due to rising coronavirus levels.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock set out the findings of the first full review of England’s tier allocations, with very little good news for areas already under tough restrictions.
Instead he was forced to place more areas under the toughest measures, closing pubs, restaurants and cinemas.
The changes mean a total of 38 million people will be living in Tier 3 from Saturday – 68% of the population of England.
Mr Hancock said areas moving into Tier 3 are: Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Peterborough, the whole of Hertfordshire, Surrey with the exception of Waverley, Hastings and Rother on the Kent border of East Sussex, and Portsmouth, Gosport and Havant in Hampshire.
But Bristol and North Somerset will move from Tier 3 to Tier 2, while Herefordshire will move from Tier 2 to Tier 1.
Mr Hancock said the UK has “come so far” and “mustn’t blow it now”.
Making a statement in the Commons, he told MPs: “As we enter the coldest months we must be vigilant and keep this virus under control.” The cautious approach comes amid mounting concern about the prospect of a surge in cases following the easing of restrictions over the Christmas period.
Explaining the tougher measures Mr Hancock said case rates in the South East of England are up 46% in the last week while hospital admissions are up by more than a third. The latest Tier 3 areas come after London and parts of Hertfordshire and Essex were placed under the top level of restrictions earlier this week.
Mr Hancock said: “I know that Tier 3 measures are tough. But the best way for everyone to get out of them is to pull together, not just to follow the rules but do everything they possibly can to stop the spread of the virus.”
It was “vital that everyone sticks at it and does the right thing, especially over this Christmas period”.
Mr Hancock said that because a third of people with coronavirus had no symptoms it was a “silent disease” and “everyone, therefore, has a personal responsibility to play their part in keeping this pandemic under control”.