More Tier 4 Restrictions 'May Be Necessary' As Ministers Meet To Review Covid Data

Communities secretary Robert Jenrick has said the new variant is "prevalent probably in most regions of the country”.

More areas of England could be placed under tier 4 restrictions as the cabinet’s Covid operations committee meets on Wednesday to consider the latest data on the spread of the virus.

Communities secretary Robert Jenrick acknowledged “it may be necessary to take further action” to curb rising case numbers, thought to be due to a new and more infectious strain of the virus.

The current tier levels in England are due to be reviewed on December 30 but that could be accelerated due to the latest developments.

Genomic researchers have found that the new variant, which is said to be up to 70% more infectious than previous strains, has already spread around the UK, with cases identified in Wales and Scotland.

Reports suggested local leaders and health officials met on Tuesday night to discuss the possibility of Birmingham being moved into a tier 4 lockdown, while areas in lower tiers could be moved up to tier 3.

Health chiefs in Cumbria have said the new variant is in the county and could be behind sharp increases in new cases, while Lancashire’s director of public health said there is a “high likelihood” that the new variant is there, too.

Jenrick told Sky News: “We don’t have a timetable for that. The government’s Covid operations committee is meeting later today to review further evidence.

“We keep this under review, we are constantly hearing from our scientific advisers about what we should do.”

The new variant is “very concerning” and is “prevalent probably in most regions of the country”, he acknowledged.

He also said it was “extremely unlikely” that plans allowing for households to meet on Christmas Day will change.

Meanwhile, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has written to Boris Johnson to say his party will back any government moves to tighten restrictions if that is what scientists recommend.


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