England could enter into a country-wide lockdown in the New Year

England could enter into a lockdown in the new year, after the government’s chief scientific adviser said an extension of the highest level of restrictions could be needed across the whole country.

London and parts of the southeast entered into Tier 4 restrictions on Sunday (20 Dec), due to the highly transmissible new variant of Covid, and this could be extended across England after the next government review takes place on 30 December.

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‘We absolutely need to make sure we have the right level of restrictions in place’

The government’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, said in the Downing Street briefing on Monday (21 Dec) that the new highly transmissible variant of Covid had spread across the nation, and that further restrictions could come into place as a result.

Sir Vallance said, "The evidence on this virus is that it spreads easily.

"It's more transmissible, we absolutely need to make sure we have the right level of restrictions in place.

"I think it is likely that this will grow in numbers of the variant across the country and I think it's likely, therefore, that measures will need to be increased in some places, in due course, not reduced."

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The scientific advisers added that the new variant requires “more action in order to keep it down and that's why Tier 4 is important.”

Addressing the new Covid-19 variant, Home Secretary Priti Patel told Sky News on Tuesday morning (22 Dec), "It's a stronger strain of the virus in the sense that it's more transmittable, it's a bouncy virus.

“Of course, if the virus continues to spread then we will take stronger measures.”

Who is currently in Tier 4 and what are the rules?

Currently, London, Kent and Medway, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Surrey (excluding Waverley), Hastings and Rother, Havant, Gosport and Portsmouth, Hertfordshire, Essex (excluding Tendring, Uttlesford and Colchester), Central Bedfordshire, Bedford, Milton Keynes, Luton, and Peterborough are all in Tier 4.

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Those in Tier 4 must stay at home, apart from limited exemptions set out in law.

Non-essential retail, indoor gyms and leisure facilities, and personal care services in these areas have now closed, and people must work from home if they can.

Alongside this, residents should not enter or leave Tier 4 areas, and must not stay overnight away from home.

Those in Tier 4 cannot meet other households indoors or in private gardens, but individuals can meet one other person in an outdoor public space. Exemptions for support bubbles apply.