The Government is taking action after the emergence of a new, more contagious coronavirus strain, which most likely originated in Kent. An health official said: “Ministers have met today to assess what further action may be needed to address the rise in cases driven by the new variant.”
Fresh restrictions will probably come into effect on Boxing Day, with the whole of Essex, Sussex, Surrey, Oxfordshire and Hampshire likely to go into Tier 4, tweeted Times deputy political correspondent Steve Swinford.
Mr Swinford said he had not yet heard whether decisions had been made on Burnley, Lincolnshire and parts of Lancashire but that Birmingham would NOT be going into Tier 4.
The rate at which coronavirus is spreading has increased, adding to pressure on ministers to impose Tier 4 lockdowns on more parts of England.
The Cabinet’s Covid operations committee met today to consider the latest data on the spread of the virus.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick earlier acknowledged “it may be necessary to take further action” to curb rising case numbers.
The latest estimate of the R value, the average number of people someone with coronavirus infects, has increased to 1.1 to 1.3, up from 1.1 to 1.2 a week ago.
Mr Hancock will be joined at the briefing by Dr Susan Hopkins from Public Health England and SAGE’s Jenny Harries.
(More to follow)