It has been confirmed today that Greater Manchester will be placed into Tier 4 restrictions following the second official review of the UK government’s tier system.
The new classification was announced by Health Secretary Matt Hancock during a direct address to MPs in the House of Commons a few moments ago.
These changes will take effect at 0.01am tomorrow.
Announcing the new classifications, Mr Hancock said: “Unfortunately, this new variant is now spreading across most of England and cases are doubling fast [and] it is therefore necessary to apply Tier 4 measures to a wider area, including the remaining parts of the South East, as well as large parts of the Midlands, the North West, the North East and the South West.”
Lancashire, Cheshire, Warrington, Blackpool and Blackburn with Darwen will also move from Tier 3 restrictions into Tier 4.
Liverpool City Region will move from Tier 2 restrictions into Tier 3, while Cumbria will from Tier 2 into Tier 4.
It comes after coronavirus (COVID-19) infection rates have continued to rise across the region – with nine out of the ten boroughs seeing increases – and the latest data now showing the region-wide infection rate looking set to top 200 cases per 100,000 people again for the first time since last month.
Greater Manchester had previously remained under Tier 3 restrictions since the country came out of the national second lockdown at the start of December, with no changes in almost four weeks.
The new tier 4 restrictions will see Greater Manchester residents told to “stay at home” and not leave or be outside of their home except for specific purposes.
No household mixing is allowed – aside from support bubbles and two people meeting in public outdoor spaces – all hospitality and non-essential retail must close, except for takeaway, drive-through or delivery services, and all indoor leisure and entertainment venues must too close.
Travel is only permitted for work, education or other legally permitted reasons, and residents must not leave a Tier 4 area or stay overnight away from home.
Residents in Tiers 1 – 3 should also not enter Tier 4 areas.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson is now due to make a follow-up announcement regarding the return to school ahead of the new term for millions of children across the country at 3:30pm.
The review follows widespread reports by a number of major news outlets that have been emerging over the past week or so to suggest that England could immediately head into a full lockdown, or even see additional ‘Tier 5’ restrictions imposed following the confirmation by Health Secretary Matt Hancock earlier this month that a “new variant” of coronavirus has been detected in the UK, which first forced London and large parts of the South East into Tier 4 “stay at home” measures over the festive period.
It also comes after millions more people were then moved into tougher restrictions on Boxing Day, with some six million people entering Tier 4, and a further four million people placed into Tier 3.
This thus brought the total of people in Tier 4 to 24 million, which was 43% of the population.
The latest review also follows the confirmation this morning that the UK medicine regulator has approved use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
The approval of the new vaccine is set to accelerate UK’s immunisation campaign – with 100 million doses of the Oxford jab already ordered – and is has prompted Matt Hancock to express confidence the country could now “get out of the pandemic by spring”.
Two shots will be required for maximum effect, and the rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is scheduled for 4th January.
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For the latest information, guidance and support during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the UK, please do refer to official sources at gov.uk/coronavirus.