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The health secretary will today outline which, if any, regions in England will change tiers before the relaxation of COVID rules over the festive period.

Speaking to Sky News ahead of Matt Hancock’s statement to MPs, which is expected around 11.30am, Priti Patel said the message from the government was for people to “have a smaller, more local and safer” Christmas if they can.

“Don’t travel if you don’t need to, don’t stay overnight somewhere else where you don’t need to, stay at home effectively, with your small support bubble,” the home secretary said.

She added: “We want everyone to have a wonderful Christmas, we really do. But in a smaller, safer way, a localised way. I think the public understand that.”

Pressed on whether people should travel to different parts of the UK over Christmas, the home secretary said the government would “urge people to exercise their judgement”, adding: “We would not advise people to travel – certainly from low tier to high tier or high tier into low tier. That would clearly put coronavirus at risk in terms of spreading the virus.”

The health secretary is expected to only make “minor changes” to England’s COVID-19 tier allocations when he faces MPs, according to the Press Association.

In his statement, Mr Hancock will also explain plans to extend mass community testing to Tier 2 areas with high rates of coronavirus.

Currently, only Tier 3 areas are eligible for the localised testing scheme and the additional rollout signifies a desire to help local councils prevent their area from moving up the scale.

Some locations could see community testing up and running before Christmas.

Today’s tier review was promised when the system was brought in at the beginning of the month, but its significance was undermined by the announcement on Monday that London and parts of Essex and Hertfordshire would be moving into the top tier because of rising case numbers.

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