His warning followed analysis from Government scientists that forecast the second wave of the pandemic this winter will be more deadly than the first. Local lockdowns are continuing to spread, with the whole of Nottinghamshire being put into Tier 3 – the highest level in the Covid Alert system – from a minute past midnight tomorrow. The restrictions, which are already in force in Nottingham and some nearby towns, include no household mixing indoors, in private gardens or in outdoor hospitality settings. Pubs and bars must shut unless they are serving substantial meals.
In the county, the weekly case rate has hit 364 people per 100,000.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “We have seen infection rates rising sharply across Nottinghamshire and, in close collaboration with local leaders, we have agreed on a package of local measures to stop this virus in its tracks.”
Meanwhile, Brighton and Hove are “very close” to being declared a Tier 2 region under the three-level regime. And in Manchester the newly reopened Nightingale hospital was accepting patients again as from yesterday.
An NHS spokeswoman said: “It will provide care for those who do not have COVID-19 but do need further support before they are able to go home, such as therapy and social-care assessments.”
Figures show, as of Monday, north-west hospitals had 2,407 patients with coronavirus – not far below the figure of 2,890 from the peak on April 13.
As the first patients were admitted to Nightingale Northwest, Mr Eustice made a series of broadcast interviews about the impact the virus will have on Christmas celebrations.
He told Times Radio: “We want to be in a position where people can meet with family. Will it be able to happen on a large scale? Well, that might be harder, if we’re honest. But we nevertheless want Christmas to be celebrated and for families to be able to celebrate and mark Christmas.
“It’s a very important family time.”
Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey for a “four nation summit” to agree standard rules covering Christmas for the whole of the UK.
Mr Eustice said: “We can’t say at this point exactly what the restrictions will be at Christmas. I think the Liberal Democrat proposal to have a road map for Christmas is the wrong way of looking at this, when we actually need a road map to address the virus, which is what we’re trying to do.”
Mr Eustice said social mixing between families who live in areas with different tiers is “not provided for currently”.
He added: “This is a rapidly developing situation and we are making judgments all the time.”