ESSEX and York are among the areas moving into tougher tier two lockdown restrictions, Matt Hancock has announced today.
The Health Secretary made the announcement at the Commons this morning as he confirmed that London will also see stricter measures.
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During a speech, he said more areas – including Essex, Elmbridge in Surrey, York, Chesterfield, Barrow-in-Furness, north-east Derbyshire and Erewash in east Derbyshire – will also move into the second tier.
It means that people living in each of the areas won't be able to see friends and family indoors – unless they belong to the same household.
In a statement to MPs, Mr Hancock said: "Working with local leaders in Essex and Elmbridge, we're also moving them into local alert level high.
"I want to pay tribute to the leadership of Essex County Council and in Elmbridge where they have been working so hard to suppress the virus.
"Infection rates are also rising sharply in Barrow-in-Furness, in York, in North East Derbyshire, in Erewash and Chesterfield.
"In all of these places, cases are doubling in less than a fortnight.
"For all of the areas entering the high alert level, the change will come into effect one minute past midnight on Saturday morning and this includes Barrow-in-Furness, York, North East Derbyshire, Erewash and Chesterfield too."
Areas in tier two – where there is a high risk of coronavirus – are banned from mixing with other households indoors, including in pubs.
When meeting outside, only two households will be able to mix.
Current social distancing measures, the "rule of six" outdoors and the 10pm curfew will continue in this tier.
However, all businesses and venues can continue to operate, in a Covid-secure way, unless they're closed by law – such as clubs and adult entertainment venues.
London has also been ordered to comply with tier two restrictions from midnight on Friday under Boris Johnson's new three-step shutdown plan.
What are the exceptions to the rule on meeting indoors?
Gatherings within indoor settings, as well as your home or garden, can still take place for these specific purposes:
- where everyone in the gathering lives together or is in the same support bubble
- to attend a birth at the mother’s request
- to visit a person who is dying
- to fulfil a legal obligation
- for work purposes, or for the provision of voluntary or charitable services
- for the purposes of education or training
- for the purposes of childcare provided by a registered provider and informal childcare as part of a childcare bubble
- to provide emergency assistance
- to enable one or more people in the gathering to avoid injury or illness or to escape a risk of harm
- to facilitate a house move
- to provide care or assistance to a vulnerable person
- to continue existing arrangements for access to, and contact between, parents and children where the children do not live in the same household as their parents, or one of their parents.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said this morning: "The virus is spreading rapidly in every corner of our city.
"Hospital admissions are up, more patients are going into intensive care units, and sadly the number of Londoners dying is increasing again."
Mr Khan also repeated his demands for a national "circuit breaker" lockdown.
He said: "I believe we also need action on a national scale, just as the Government's own scientific advisers have recommended.
"This is why I continue to call for a short national circuit breaker."
David Finch, leader of Essex County Council, welcomed Mr Hancock's announcement.
He had called for the county to get tougher restrictions.
In a statement, he said: "We think the government has decided correctly, guided by the science and the fact is that the number of cases in Essex is rising exponentially."
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