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article imageOver 75 percent of UK will be in Tier 4 lockdown on January 1

By Karen Graham     Dec 30, 2020 in Health
London - Over 75 percent of England will be under a Tier 4 lockdown - the strictest of COVID-19 restrictions - on New Year's Eve due to a surge in cases of a variant of the coronavirus in the past two weeks.
The UK's Health Secretary, Matt Hancock announced on Tuesday that another 21 million people - including all of the north-east of England, Greater Manchester, large parts of the Midlands and the south-west – would be in the strictest tier 4 rules beginning on Thursday morning, New Year's Eve.
This tightening of the lockdown comes about after the UK reported another 981 Covid-related deaths, the highest daily toll since April, and a further 50,023 infections, all in the last 24 hours, according to the BBC.
In a televised coronavirus briefing from Downing Street, Prime Minister Boris Johnson had this to tell the public: "I must ask you to follow the rules where you live tomorrow night and see in the new year safely at home."
"That means not meeting up with friends or family indoors unless they're in the same household or support bubble, and avoiding large gatherings of any kind." He added: "We are still in the tunnel of this pandemic."
The Tier 4 restrictions include the closure of all non-essential shops and strict one-to-one outdoor meeting limits between households. Everywhere else, other than the 2,224 people on the Isles of Scilly, will be in tier 3. Mainland Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland are already in Tier 4 restriction protocols.
The new restrictions will not affect children's education, with some secondary schools staggering their reopenings after the Christmas holiday, while a few primary schools, especially in the hardest-hit areas will not open at all, said Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, according to Reuters.
The prime minister said: "[The] message for all parents, except in the school areas which have been specifically identified as being where the epidemic is really surging the most... is schools are safe."
"The problem is not the schools... the issue is the spread from the mixing of households that naturally takes place in schools. That's what we're trying to combat in the very high infection rate areas," Johnson added.
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