As it stands, just under half of the UK’s population is living under the most stringent coronavirus control measures in Tier 4. Government scientists have told Prime Minister Boris Johnson he needs to implement stricter measures to stop the virus from spiralling out of control. The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) has told the Prime Minister that because of the new, faster-spreading Covid variant, the R-Rate would soar to above one in January.
A senior Whitehall source said: “We are ruling nothing out, the new strain is of serious concern. Tier 4 appears to not be strong enough.”
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick accepted “it may be necessary to take further action” in a bid to stop infection rates rising further.
Covid hospital admissions in England have risen exponentially in the last few weeks, surging past the peak in April.
The number of people now being treated for the coronavirus in hospitals in England alone is 20,426, compared to 18,974 patients recorded during the peak of the outbreak on April 12.
READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon to give lockdown update as Boris considers tier change
The Prime Minister has refused to rule out a third lockdown as the death toll has surpassed 70,000 in Britain.
Despite no confirmation from the Government, speculation suggests Tier 5 could mean a total ban from leaving the house for non-essential reasons, akin to a full-scale lockdown.
Under Tier 4, households can still mix with a support bubble, but if Tier 5 was to be brought in this luxury would likely stop.
Health experts have reportedly advised Mr Johnson to assert stronger measures, including closing secondary schools as well as pubs and non-essential shops.
Will Essex, Hertfordshire and Kent go into Tier 5?
Essex, Hertfordshire and Kent have among the highest rates of infection in the country.
In the seven days to December 23, Hertfordshire recorded 7,108 new cases of coronavirus, which puts it will above the national average.
Essex recorded even higher rates of infection, with 13,385 new cases of Covid being reported in the county during the same time period.
Brentwood in Essex has the highest rate of infection in the whole country, recording 1,111 new cases – equating 1,442.5 cases per 100,000 people.
Tier 5: Will London go into Tier 5? How strict could Tier 5 be? [INSIGHT]
Ministers vow to reopen schools next week despite scientists’ warning [REPORT]
Boris Johnson urged to delay school reopening to stop Covid surge [ANALYSIS]
Kent sits somewhere in between the two counties with 11,600 cases having been declared in the seven days leading up to December 23.
The latest data shows a total of 282, equivalent to 90 percent, of England’s 315 local areas saw an increase in infections in the same week.
The next formal review of the Tier system will take place on December 30, and it will determine whether or not the current measures will continue into the New Year.
Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove did not rule out putting the whole country under Tier 4 measures.
If the Government decides to introduce stricter measures to stop the spread of the virus, whether that’s in the form of Tier 5 or something else, it seems likely Kent, Hertfordshire and Essex will all be subject.
The Government said it “keeps the data under constant review” and is not afraid to act “to protect local communities”.
The Government wrote: “Data assessed includes how quickly case rates are going up or down, cases in the over 60s, pressure on the NHS and local circumstances.
“Where regions are densely populated with lots of people travelling between areas, Tiers must be targeted at the appropriate level to protect people and control transmission.”