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Covid: London to move into tier 3 as infections rise

 

London will move into England’s highest tier of Covid restrictions from 00:01 GMT on Wednesday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said.

 

Parts of Essex and parts of Hertfordshire will also enter tier three at the same time.

 

A new variant of coronavirus has been identified “which may be associated with the faster spread in the south of England”, Mr Hancock told the Commons.

 

Pubs and restaurants in tier three must close except for takeaway and delivery.

 

Also under the rules, sports fans cannot attend events in stadiums, and indoor entertainment venues – such as bowling alleys and cinemas – must remain shut.

 

The health secretary told MPs that action had to be taken immediately – before the next scheduled review of England’s three-tier system on Wednesday – to slow “sharp, exponential rises” in infection, adding that in some areas the virus was doubling around every seven days.

 

Hospitals across the capital, Essex and Kent were already “under pressure”, he warned.

 

He said there was “currently nothing to suggest” that the new variant was more likely to cause serious disease and advice was that it’s “highly unlikely” the mutation would fail to respond to a vaccine.

 

But he urged vigilance and said “everyone needs to take personal responsibility not to spread this virus”.

 

With Kent, Medway and Slough already under tier three rules, it means large parts of south-east England will soon join much of the Midlands, north-west England and north-east England under the strictest curbs on social contacts.

 

More than 34 million people will be in tier three when the changes come into effect, 21.5 million in tier two and about 700,000 in tier one.

 

Read full story on BBC NEWS

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