The Prime Minister has announced tougher restrictions for large parts of South East England, including Bedfordshire, with a new Tier 4: ‘Stay at Home’ alert level.
The decision follows a rapid rise in infections attributed to the rapid spread of a new variant of COVID-19.
Based on preliminary modelling data, the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) now consider that the new strain can spread significantly more quickly and could increase R by 0.4 or more. New and existing data will continue to be analysed as we learn more about the variant.
In Tier 4 the ‘Stay At Home’ message will be put in law. As previously, there will be exemptions. Including travelling for work or education, for childcare purposes, and for exercise.
People should not enter or leave Tier 4 areas, and Tier 4 residents must not stay overnight away from home. Where people cannot work from home, they should still travel to work, for example in the construction and manufacturing sectors.
Non-essential retail, indoor leisure [such as swimming pools and gyms], indoor entertainment [such as cinemas, bowling alleys and casinos], and personal care sectors [such as nail bars, barbers and hairdressers] must all close.
Tighter social contact restrictions will also be introduced, meaning one person can meet with one other person in an outside public space. Rules on support bubbles and childcare bubbles will remain as currently, and communal worship can continue to take place.
For the clinically extremely vulnerable, the same advice as in November applies in Tier 4 areas. This says that those who are clinically extremely vulnerable, which includes people with certain types of cancer, people on immunosuppression therapy, and people with severe respiratory conditions, shouldn’t go to work and should limit time outside the home, and take exercise outside at less busy times.
Tier 4 rules will be reviewed on 30 December, as part of the wider review of all restrictions.