Further restrictions as swathes of England put into Tier 4

More areas across the South of England will be placed under Tier 4 restrictions following a dramatic increase in coronavirus cases, Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced this afternoon.

The measures will enter into force on Boxing Day following a 57 per cent rise in coronavirus cases in the last week.

Tier 4 restrictions will be imposed within the counties of Sussex, Oxfordshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Essex and areas of Hampshire including Portsmouth and Southampton.

Bristol, Gloucestershire, Somerset, Swindon, the Isle of Wight, the New Forest and Northamptonshire have all been increased to Tier 3.

“This is not news that anybody wants to deliver and I’m truly sorry for the disruption that it causes”, Mr Hancock said at a press conference held this afternoon.

“But I think people know how important it is that we take decisions like this to keep people safe.”

The health secretary also set out new rules in relation to South Africa after experts detected a new strain of COVID-19 in two cases in the UK, believed to have originated from the African country. Mr Hancock announced that steps were being taken to place immediate restrictions on travel to or from South Africa, in addition to requesting that those who have returned from the country within the last two weeks must self-isolate.

The health secretary used today’s conference to also announce that the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine has submitted its full data package to the regulatory authority for approval.