Tier 4: Jenrick says he can’t ‘prejudge’ possible extra steps
Over the weekend Boris Johnson introduced a new tier to England’s lockdown system. Tier 4 measures are equivalent to the national lockdown introduced in November, and have so far only been applied to parts of London and the South East. But as a new strain of Covid-19 is rapidly spreading in some areas, reports suggest other areas of England could be facing Tier 4 restrictions very soon.
When will more Tier 4 restrictions be announced?
Health Secretary Matt Hancock is due to speak at a Downing Street press briefing later today (Wednesday, December 23), and it is believed the briefing will be at 3pm.
The Daily Mirror reported this week that a Gold Command meeting was held to discuss the possibility of placing Birmingham, which is already in Tier 3, into Tier 4 before Christmas.
The possibility of another full national lockdown after Christmas Day was also said to be discussed.
One source in the meeting told the publication: “The situation is developing quickly so we need to respond at the same pace.
READ MORE: Christmas rules to remain unchanged as Jenrick urges ‘caution’
Tier 4 announcement: When will more areas be plunged into Tier 4?
Tier 4 announcement: Birmingham is currently in Tier 3
“It’s more likely that other parts of England could be put into Tier 4 from Boxing Day”.
BirminghamLive reported this week that more than 10 percent of cases in the West Midlands have been believed to be the new strain of the virus.
The tier review is due on December 30, but according to reports the announcement of a post-Christmas lockdown could come as soon as today (December 23).
However today Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick insisted there will be no changes to the current Christmas plans.
Tier 4 announcement: Boris Johnson announced Tier 4 measures for several areas on December 19
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We know it’s very heavily concentrated in London and the East of England and the South East, but it’s not exclusively so, it’s also present more widely – that’s a source of concern.
But “tomorrow is Christmas Eve, we don’t have any intention of changing the guidelines with respect to Christmas”.
He added: “We are not going to change people’s plans 24, 48 hours ahead of Christmas.
“However, the Prime Minister and others have been very clear that, even outside of Tier 4, there is a strong degree of personal judgment to be exercised here.
“It’s still up to people to come to a conclusion as to how many members of their family or other households they want to bring together on Christmas Day.
“The strong advice is to keep it small, to keep it short and therefore to be safe.”
However, when asked if wider measures would be brought in the day after Christmas on December 26, he said: “We don’t have an immediate plan to take action but the number of cases is rising and the variant is spreading to other parts of the country.
“So, we will see whether it’s necessary to do more, and make sure that the tiered system is sufficiently robust for the new circumstances.”
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Tier 4 announcement: England’s four-tier lockdown system
Which areas could go up a tier?
In the South East, the rate of new cases in Wealden has jumped week-on-week from 153.0 per 100,000 people to 351.8 – which is higher than other areas in the south-east that are in Tier 4.
Other parts of East Sussex that are still in Tier 2 (Brighton & Hove, Eastbourne and Lewes) could also be placed up a tier as rates are also rising.
All of the West Midlands is currently in Tier 3 apart from Shropshire and Worcestershire, and the regional rate has gone up from 181.4 to 222.7 per 100,000 people.
In Hampshire, Rushmoor looks set to move up from Tier 2, following a sharp rise in rates from 191.3 to 410.2.
In Oxfordshire, Cherwell (where rates are currently 334.2) and Oxford (288.6) may move up from Tier 2, as could Crawley (260.7) and Mid Sussex (285.4) in West Sussex.
Most of Essex is in Tier 4, the exceptions being Colchester, Tendring and Uttlesford. Cases are rising in all these areas, especially Uttlesford (up from 165.4 to 341.8), and it is likely all three will be moved up from Tier 2.
Babergh (259.7), Norwich (249.0) and Ipswich (244.0) are also seeing rising cases.
In parts of the East Midlands, parts of Northamptonshire such as Northampton (where rates stand at 283.6) and Wellingborough (271.0) could be facing a move into Tier 3.
In the West Midlands, in Rugby (Tier 3) the rate has jumped week-on-week from 151.5 to 377.3, while in Redditch (Tier 2) it has risen from 105.6 to 224.0.
In the South West, the rate of new cases in South Gloucestershire is up from 155.4 to 191.5 – though this is below the current rates in Gloucester (242.4) and Forest of Dean (203.9), two areas that may soon be joining South Gloucestershire in Tier 3.
Some of the areas in Tier 3 in Yorkshire and the Humber currently have very low rates, such as Wakefield (147.3), Leeds (142.6) and North East Lincolnshire (104.7).
In the North East, in Hartlepool the rate is currently 323.5, up from 225.3, while in Redcar and Cleveland is it 132.0, down from 137.8.
In the North West, Fylde in Tier 3 currently has a very low rate of 108.9, while for Eden in Tier 2 the figure is 294.8.
Burnley has seen its rate jump sharply from 309.3 to 446.5 and might be facing a move from Tier 3 to Tier 4.
Pendle is another candidate for Tier 4, where the rate has risen from 267.1 to 345.2.
On December 22, the UK reported 36,804 new cases of Covid-19.
In the last seven days the UK has reported 222,199 cases, up by 84,323 from the previous seven days.
On December 22, 691 deaths within 28 days of a positive test were recorded.