MATT Hancock is expected to announce more areas will go into Tier 4 at a press conference at 3pm this afternoon.
The Health Secretary is expected to say that from Boxing Day, more swathes of the country will be plunged into even tighter restrictions as a result of the rapidly-spreading new variant of Covid.
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A Health Official said today: “Ministers have met today to assess what further action may be needed to address the rise in cases driven by the new variant.
“The Health Secretary will provide an update at a Downing Street press conference at 3pm.”
Dr Susan Hopkins from Public Health Englandand Jenny Harries are set to join him.
The Health Sec is likely to take immediate action as a result of spiraling hospital admissions and cases soaring over the past week across England – but the South East and London is the hardest hit.
As the House of Commons is on a Christmas break, there won't be a statement there.
Everyone in the South of England is expected to be bumped up to Tier 4, including possilble the East of England and Cumbria too.
Birmingham is also at risk, but thought to be able to escape the tougher rules.
Any new rues will likely come into place on Boxing Day or December 27.
The decisions will take place late this morning at a crunch Covid Operations meeting with top ministers in Whitehall.
They will examine the latest figures for the worst-hit areas where rates are creeping up.
At the moment people in Tier 4 can't see family and friends for Christmas – unless it's seeing their already-formed support bubble.
And anyone outside of Tier 4 is only able to spend time with people indoors for a 24 hour period on Christmas Day.
Mr Jenrick said today that there were no current plans to put all of England into another lockdown – but stressed more places may go into Tier 4 soon.
He told Sky News today: "We have now had time to think again about whether further action is required in other parts of the country.
"That is the decision the PM will need to take in the next couple of days.
"The question is whether we should take action now to try and head it off."
The Tier review was due to take place on December 30, but fears the mutant strain is now “everywhere” meant it was brought forward.
A government source said that “things are moving very quickly."
Professor of Operational Research at University College London Christina Pagel told Times Radio this morning that ministers need to place the whole of England in Tier 4 today.
She warned: "Things are getting rapidly worse….We are in an incredibly dangerous situation…
"We can't afford to wait for confirmation, because it is just rising so so rapidly… Tier 4 kind of sits in a sea of tier 2. Cases in those tier 2 areas have doubled in the last week. So it's seriously out of control there.
"If we just wait and we let it spread to the North, where things are much more under control, then the whole country is on fire and I just feel like we have to stop it now and protect the North from the South."
She added that waiting for Boxing Day would be "too slow and it's too reactive."
Which Tier 2 and Tier 3 areas have the highest infection rates?
Places in Tier 2 and Tier 3 with the highest infection rates:
Burnley, Tier 3: 438 cases per 100,000
Lincoln, Tier 3: 409 cases per 100,000
Boston, Tier 3: 406 cases per 100,000
Rushmoor, Tier 2: 378 cases per 100,000
Stoke-on-Trent, Tier 3: 341 cases per 100,000
Pendle, Tier 3: 338 cases per 100,000
Rugby, Tier 3: 337 cases per 100,000
East Staffordshire, Tier 3: 331 cases per 100,000
West Lindsey, Tier 3: 323 cases per 100,000
Wealden, Tier 2: 323 cases per 100,000
Uttlesford, Tier 2: 313 cases per 100,000
Wolverhampton, Tier 3: 300 cases per 100,000
Places in Tier 4 with the lowest infection rates:
Gosport: 159 cases per 100,000
Chiltern: 202 cases per 100,000
North Hertfordshire: 232 cases per 100,000
Welwyn Hatfield: 248 cases per 100,000
Mole Valley: 255 cases per 100,000
Guildford: 260 cases per 100,000
Windsor and Maidenhead: 273 cases per 100,000
Dacorum: 277 cases per 100,000
West Berkshire: 278 cases per 100,000
Wokingham: 300 cases per 100,000
East Hertfordshire: 305 cases per 100,000
Stevenage: 312 cases per 100,000
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