Tier review u-turn over fears Brits may have 'New Year's Eve blowout' before lockdown leaving police unable to cope
FEARS over Brits having a final "New Year's Eve blowout" before more of England is plunged into lockdown has sparked a Tier review U-turn.
The review was set to take place on December 30, but fears New Years parties may be harder to police on the eve of another major lockdown means the clampdown could come as soon as tomorrow, the Sun has learnt.
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Ministers and medics met on Tuesday night after the new Covid strain was detected "everywhere", including in the parts of the South West, Midlands and the North – areas all currently in Tier 2 or 3.
Tier decisions are normally implemented 48 hours later after the review, but there is concern parties on New Year's Eve may be harder to police on the eve of another lockdown, according to health sources.
"If you announce on the 30th that everyone is going into lockdown in two days' time then its obvious people will go over the top," a source said.
It comes as:
- More areas in England plunged into strict lockdown as soon as BOXING DAY as mutant Covid strain causes chaos
- Parents’ fury as 'schools may close for ALL of January' after experts claim mutant Covid strain spreads faster in kids
- Map reveals the places where Covid variant is spreading most rapidly across UK as mutant strain located in 57 places
- UK Covid cases see biggest ever daily rise with 36,804 infections and 691 deaths as positive tests double in a week
- Britain faces a ‘human disaster’ unless there’s a full Tier 4 lockdown everywhere by New Year, says expert
While plans for Christmas mixing in a limited manner are to go ahead, there will be a tough line on celebrating the new year.
Police have been told to strictly enforce Tier rules that night amid concerns large parties will spread the virus.
But a police chief warned Tier 4 rules "don't make sense" and they "won't be knocking on doors" to check Brits are following the lockdown rules.
Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, slammed the new restrictions as "baffling".
“We’re not going to be knocking on people's doors on Christmas Day. We have no power of entry," he told the MailOnline.
Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty has warned Boris Johnson that the number of patients in hospital with Covid is on course to match the April peak by New Year's Eve, the Daily Mail reports.
The latest clampdown came on a dark day of soaring covid cases and deaths.
Cases in the UK again saw their biggest ever daily rise after 36,804 new positive tests and 691 deaths.
The figures have increased by 37 per cent since last Tuesday’s figure of 506 fatalities, while positive tests have also nearly trebled since a fortnight ago, when 12,282 cases were recorded on December 8.
Meanwhile the total number of Covid patients in hospital climbed to 18,080 – the highest level since April 22.
The hospitalisation figure peaked during the first wave at 21,683 on April 12.
Which Tier 2 and Tier 3 areas have the highest infection rates?
Places in Tier 2 and Tier 3 with the highest infection rates:
Burnley, Tier 3: 438 cases per 100,000
Lincoln, Tier 3: 409 cases per 100,000
Boston, Tier 3: 406 cases per 100,000
Rushmoor, Tier 2: 378 cases per 100,000
Stoke-on-Trent, Tier 3: 341 cases per 100,000
Pendle, Tier 3: 338 cases per 100,000
Rugby, Tier 3: 337 cases per 100,000
East Staffordshire, Tier 3: 331 cases per 100,000
West Lindsey, Tier 3: 323 cases per 100,000
Wealden, Tier 2: 323 cases per 100,000
Uttlesford, Tier 2: 313 cases per 100,000
Wolverhampton, Tier 3: 300 cases per 100,000
Places in Tier 4 with the lowest infection rates:
Gosport: 159 cases per 100,000
Chiltern: 202 cases per 100,000
North Hertfordshire: 232 cases per 100,000
Welwyn Hatfield: 248 cases per 100,000
Mole Valley: 255 cases per 100,000
Guildford: 260 cases per 100,000
Windsor and Maidenhead: 273 cases per 100,000
Dacorum: 277 cases per 100,000
West Berkshire: 278 cases per 100,000
Wokingham: 300 cases per 100,000
East Hertfordshire: 305 cases per 100,000
Stevenage: 312 cases per 100,000
With the new mutant strain now feared to be present in every region of the UK, health bosses and government ministers are urging people living in Tier 4 areas not to travel to other parts of the country.
Sir Patrick Vallance said the new Covid strain was spreading at terrifying speed.
"It's more transmissible, we've absolutely got to make sure we've got the right level of restrictions in place," he said last night.
"I think it is likely that this will grow in numbers of the variant across the country, and I think its likely therefore that measures are going to need to be increased in some places, not reduced."
In a grave warning, Sir Patrick added: "I think it is a case that this will spread more."
He said it was already "everywhere" after other health experts confirmed it was now in every region of the country.
Cases in London have doubled in the last week alone.
And there are now eight places across the UK – from Medway to Boston – which have recorded more than 1000 cases per 100,000.
More of England will now be plunged into Tier 4 lockdown as soon as Boxing Day, the Sun understands.
An announcement on which areas face the clampdown could come as soon as tomorrow – with the measures to kick in immediately after Christmas.
Burnley, in Lancashire, has the highest Tier 3 infection rate, at 438 cases per 100,000 in the week to December 17.
It's four times higher than Gosport, in Hampshire, which has the lowest cases of all Tier 4 areas, at just 159 per 100,000.
Boston and Lincoln, both in Lincolnshire and under Tier 3, each have around 400 cases per 100,000 people.
But it's Rushmoor, on the border of locked down Surrey, that is of the most concern.
It's under Tier 2 but with an infection rate of 378 cases per 100,000 people – higher than at least 22 Tier 4 areas.
Also on the list of at-risk areas are Stoke-on-Trent and East Staffordshire, which each have more than 300 cases per 100,000, according to PA analysis of Public Health England data.
The Sun understands a "Gold Command" meeting of public health chiefs and ministers was meeting on Tuesday evening to sign off expanding the hardest lockdown measures beyond London and the South East.
Health sources said it would not affect all of England "but there are many areas that need tougher measures and are seeing dramatic cases numbers".
Meanwhile, Sage scientist Professor West, a psychologist at University College London, called for intensified efforts to stop the virus in its tracks.
He said an "economic human and social disaster" would follow unless the Government built up contact tracing systems similar to ones in East Asia.
Professor West told the Guardian: "We need to reset our strategy and move rapidly to a zero Covid strategy of the kind that many have been proposing.
"It sounds expensive but the alternative could well be a catastrophic collapse in confidence in the country's ability to control the virus and the economic, human and social disaster that would follow."
Another Sage scientist, Professor John Edmunds, told the Today programme: "Unfortunately, it does look like the virus is probably across the country already and so I do think that we might, unfortunately, have to impose tougher restrictions across the country."
'VERY DIFFERENT WORLD'
The Prime Minister, while denying suggestions a third national lockdown was imminent, acknowledged at Monday's Downing Street press conference, significant restrictions were likely to remain in place for months, but insisted it would be a "very different world'" by Easter.
Home Secretary Priti Patel also warned this morning ministers would take "all necessary steps" to contain the mutation – and would not rule out a fresh national lockdown.
When asked about whether a nationwide lockdown was inevitable, Ms Patel said: "I think it's important to remember, as we've seen this virus spread, grow and evolve, the Government, working with our scientific advisers, will take all the necessary steps to contain this."
Speaking to Sky News, she said: "This is a stronger strain of the virus, it's more transmittable. It's a bouncy virus, so obviously people can catch it in a much easier way."
The bug is blamed for 1.7 million deaths worldwide, including more than 68,000 in the UK, the second-highest death toll in Europe, behind Italy's 69,000.
It comes as the European Union said travel from the UK should be "discouraged" due to fears about the mutant strain of the virus, but bans on movement should be lifted.
EU justice commissioner Didier Reynders said: "Member states should take co-ordinated action to discourage non-essential travel between the UK and the EU."
But "at the same time, blanket travel bans should not prevent thousands of EU and UK citizens from returning to their homes".
Despite the European Commission recommendations, Ireland extended restrictions on travel from Great Britain until December 31, banning flights and sea crossings.
More than 40 countries around the world have banned flights from the UK due to the mutant variant of the bug.
The World Health Organisation's European chief Hans Kluge said limiting travel to contain the spread of the new variant was "prudent", but supply chains for "essential goods" and essential travel "should remain possible".
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