Almost eight out of ten people in England will stay home from New Year’s Eve, the government has confirmed The new variant of Covid-19 contributed to a record increase in infections across the country

Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that an additional 21 million people – including all of North East England, Greater Manchester, much of the Midlands and the South West – would be subject to the strictest Tier 4 rules Thursday morning

The UK reported an additional 981 Covid-related deaths, the highest daily number since April, and an additional 50023 Infections in the past 24 hours The sharp increase in deaths may be due in part to a delay in reporting deaths during the Christmas season

The new measures mean 78% of England will be covered by the toughest home-stay restrictions, including closing non-essential stores and tough one-on-one restrictions on inter-household households, except anywhere else from 2224 people in the Isles of Scilly, will be Tier 3

The entire Scottish mainland, Wales and Northern Ireland are already under the toughest restrictions, closing down hospitality and non-essential retailing

The extent of the new restrictions in England has baffled many MPs and Council Chairs and came just 10 days after Tier 4 first rolled out in London and parts of the Southeast in response to the rapidly expanding variant

Leaders in the north east of England called for a national lockdown to curb the spread of the disease and focus efforts on introducing two vaccines. “This is a national problem and now a national solution is needed,” they said after Hancock had announced the new measures in the House of Commons

The infection rate in England rose by a third in the week leading up to Christmas Eve, while the number of Covid patients hospitalized rose 8% the week before to 14915 people rose

The number of Covid patients in English hospitals exceeded the high of the first wave on Sunday Tuesday morning was 21787 people are hospitalized with the disease and the number is expected to continue to rise as the number of cases increases

On Tuesday, the cases reached 53135 a record high in the UK, including 47164 in England The variant of Covid discovered earlier this month accounted for a large proportion of all new cases in London, the southeast and east of England, Hancock said on Wednesday

The areas moved to Level 4 include all of the Midlands except Worcestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin, and Rutland, which are all classified in Level 3 in the North West are Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Blackpool and Blackburn with Darwen, Cheshire, Warrington and Cumbria being in Tier 4 Liverpool is being advanced to Tier 3

In the southwest, Gloucestershire, Swindon, Somerset, Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole will be in Level 4, while the rest of the region – including Cornwall, Devon and Dorset – will be moved to Level 3

Hancock told the Commons Wednesday was “a day of mixed feelings” as the new restrictions were announced hours after the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine was approved by the UK regulator

He told MPs: “It brings up the day when we can lift the restrictions that no one in this House wants to see any longer than is strictly necessary. But we must act now to quell the virus, not least because the new variant makes the time between now and then even more difficult

“While we have the good news today about the vaccine, we also have some tough decisions to make”

Hancock said he knew the measures would put a significant strain on businesses and livelihoods but that it was “absolutely necessary given the number of cases we have seen”

Andy Street, the Conservative Mayor of West Midlands, said Tier 3 rules hadn’t stopped an increase in cases across the region. He said he would continue to push the Treasury Department to get more financial support for businesses and added, “I will continue to bring the case to the government loudly and not back down until we have a breakthrough”

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World News – UK – Covid: eight out of ten people in England to be in Tier 4 from New Year’s Eve