The Government has thrust millions of people in England into a new Tier 4 of Covid-19 restrictions in a bid to halt a concerning rise in coronavirus cases.
Speaking at a Downing Street press conference, Mr Hancock said: “From 00.01 on Boxing Day Sussex, Oxfordshire, Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire, those parts of Essex not yet in Tier 4, Waverley in Surrey and Hampshire including Portsmouth and Southampton but with the exception of the New Forest will all be escalated to Tier 4.”
– When do the new restrictions start?
The new measures will come into force at 00.01 on Boxing Day.
– In a nutshell, what does being in Tier 4 mean?
You must stay at home and only leave for a specific purpose or if you have a “reasonable excuse”.
This includes going to work if it cannot be done from home, shopping for essentials such as food and medicine, attending education or training, using registered childcare, outdoor exercise and for medical reasons.
– Who am I allowed to meet up with?
The rules are strict: you cannot meet other people indoors unless you live with them or they are part of your existing support bubble.
Outdoors, you can only meet one person from another household in a public place.
– Are support and childcare bubbles still allowed?
Yes, these can continue in Tier 4 areas.
Early years settings and childminders can remain open as normal, while nannies are also allowed to carry on providing services, including in the home.
– Do the Tier 4 restrictions apply over Christmas too?
Not in Hampshire, people are able to meet in a Christmas bubble – a maximum of three households – only on Christmas Day.
– Why is this happening now?
The Government has tightened the rules after experts identified a new mutant strain of coronavirus – known as VUI2020/01 – was spreading more quickly in the new Tier 4 areas.
Mr Johnson said the strain may be up to 70% more transmissible than the old variant and could drive up the reproductive rate of the virus.