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Millions more people in England will move into tier 4 restrictions as coronavirus cases continue to rise in the country, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has confirmed.
Tier 4 restrictions will now apply to remaining parts of south east, large part of midlands, the north west and the north east of England, plunging three quarters of the country into the toughest restrictions.
As of midnight tonight, December 30, Leicester, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Derby and Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire, Birmingham and Black Country, Coventry, Solihull, Warwickshire, Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent, Lancashire, Cheshire and Warrington, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Tees Valley, the North East, Gloucestershire, Somerset council, Swindon, Bournemouth, the Isle of Wight and the New Forest will all be under tier 4 restrictions.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Hancock said the restrictions were to ‘demonstrate the need to act where the virus is spreading’.
Urging people to stick to the restrictions put in place, he said, ‘We must all stick at it during the difficult weeks ahead,’ adding that ‘we end 2020 still with great challenges but also with hope and confidence that in 2021 we have a brighter future ahead’.
It comes after the government revealed infection rates in many of the areas currently in the lower tiers of restrictions have soared in the past seven days.
Tier 4 restrictions mean that all non-essential shops must shut, while other businesses such as hairdressers and gyms are also forced to close their doors.
While speaking on BBC Breakfast, Hancock said the government did not ‘take the tiering decisions lightly’, but explained that the new variant of COVID-19 made ‘suppressing the virus much harder’.
Although some people have suggested that another national lockdown could be looming, the health secretary doubled-down on the notion that ‘not everywhere needs the same level of restrictions’.
It comes just hours after it was revealed the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine had been approved for use in the UK.
The government has already ordered 100 million doses of the vaccine, which is expected to be rolled out as soon as Monday, January 4.
In addition to the Pfizer/BioNTech jab, which has already begun being administered here in the UK, it’s believed the Oxford vaccine will cover every single person in the UK.
Boris Johnson described the moment as a ‘triumph for British science’, before adding that ‘we will now move to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible’.
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