On the afternoon of 19 December 2020, the Prime Minister gave a Press Conference on the present situation in England; additionally, the Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty issued a statement about the new strain of Covid-19, and the DHSC has published new Tier 4: Stay at Home. More specific guidance for the four tiers has also been produced.
These are summarized below.
The full text of the Prime Minister’s Press Conference is available here. With regard to Christmas, he said [emphasis added]:
“In England, those living in tier 4 areas should not mix with anyone outside their own household at Christmas, though support bubbles will remain in place for those at particular risk of loneliness or isolation.
Across the rest of the country, the Christmas rules allowing up to three households to meet will now be limited to Christmas Day only, rather than the five days as previously set out.
As before, there will be no relaxation on 31 December, so people must not break the rules at New Year.
The BBC summarized the key announcements in a live feed, as follows:
- London, the South East and parts of eastern England are moving into a new tier four level of restrictions
- From midnight, residents in tier four must stay at home, with limited exceptions. Non-essential retail, gyms and personal care centres must close. Hospitality venues are already closed under tier three rules
- Household mixing indoors is banned – people can meet one other person from another household in an outdoor space only
- Travel into and out of tier four is not allowed, unless essential
- The “support bubbles” for adults living alone will continue
- The planned relaxation of Covid rules for Christmas has been scrapped for tier four areas
- For the rest of England, the rules allowing three households to meet will be reduced to Christmas Day only
- The new rules follow evidence that a new variant of the virus is spreading fast in the areas moved into tier four
- The new variant is responsible for an increase in hospitalisations, but there is no evidence to suggest it causes a more severe disease than the old variant or will be resistant to vaccines
- Boris Johnson says he made the decision with a “heavy heart” but “when the virus changes its method of attack, we must change our method of defence”
- Prof Whitty says it is important people in tier four areas don’t travel so they don’t spread the variant to other parts of the UK
- Sir Patrick says that while this is a “horrible moment, it is controllable and there is light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccinations having started”
- You can read more here
New strain of Covid-19 reported to World Health Organisation