More areas of England to enter Tier 4 on Boxing Day
Thousands more hospitality businesses will have to close from one minute past midnight on Boxing Day when further areas of England enter tougher coronavirus tier restrictions.
At a press conference yesterday (23 December) health secretary Matt Hancock said cases across the country had risen 57% in the past week, while average Covid hospital admissions were at the highest level since mid-April.
From 26 December, Sussex, Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Oxfordshire, parts of Essex not already in the highest tier, Waverley in Surrey and Hampshire (including Southampton but not the New Forest) will move into Tier 4.
Under Tier 4 rules all hospitality must close, but can offer takeaway until 11pm as well as delivery and click and collect.
People are also required to stay at home unless they have a "reasonable excuse".
Bristol, Gloucestershire, Somerset, Swindon, the Isle of Wight, the New Forest, Northamptonshire, Cheshire and Warrington will go into Tier 3. This means hospitality must shut, except for takeaway and delivery.
Cornwall and Herefordshire, where rates are rising "sharply", will enter Tier 2.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the creation of Tier 4 on Saturday in response to a new coronavirus variant which was credited with pushing up infection rates.
Hancock added that two cases of another "more transmissible" strain linked to South Africa had been found in the UK.
He said: "Just as we'd got a tiered system in place able to control the virus, we discovered a new, more contagious variant that is spreading at a dangerous rate.
"Tier 3 is not enough to control the new variant of coronavirus. This is not a hypothesis, it is a fact. We've seen it on the ground."
Following the announcement UKHospitality has called on the government to provide 'urgent' financial support to businesses, warning many are on the brink of 'commercial failure'.
UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: "Many more pubs, restaurants, bars, cafes and hotels, having invested so much to make their venues safe, are now looking at indefinite and total loss of trading. They need an immediate message that at the very least, the 5% VAT rate and business rates holiday will remain throughout next year, supported by an urgent package of survival grants, so that they can try to plan strategies to save their businesses."