Boris Johnson will address the nation at 8pm today (January 4) about stricter lockdown measures in light of rising coronavirus cases. Presently around three-quarters of England’s population are under Tier 4 measures, which require people to stay at home apart from in essential circumstances.
However the Government has signalled these measures could be tightened further, or possibly replaced with Tier 5 measures or another national lockdown.
A No 10 spokesman said: “The spread of the new variant of Covid-19 has led to rapidly escalating case numbers across the country.
“The Prime Minister is clear that further steps must now be taken to arrest this rise and to protect the NHS and save lives.”
As of January 4, the latest data shows a further 58,784 cases of Covid-19 have been reported in the UK, and there have been another 407 deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid test.
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In a joint statement, the GMB, NAHT, NASUWT, NEU, Unison and Unite unions warned there is a “serious risk” of staff falling ill while the rate of infection is so high.
A statement from the unions said: “Bringing all pupils back into classrooms while the rate of infection is so high is exposing education sector workers to serious risk of ill-health and could fuel the pandemic.”
The introduction of Tier 5 measures could also see further restrictions on travel and meeting others.
Under the lockdown in March 2020, there were also stricter restrictions on exercising outdoors, which may be reintroduced.
Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt has called for immediate action to close schools, shut borders and ban household mixing.
He said: “In the face of exponential growth even waiting an extra day causes many avoidable deaths so these plans must now be urgently accelerated.”