Eight local authorities in England will be moved up into the highest tier of its CCP virus alert system from Saturday, with a few moving down the tiers, Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced on Thursday.
The announcement came after a review of England’s tier-allocation on Wednesday, the first formal review since the toughened tiered restriction system came into effect on Dec. 2.
In the updated list, two local authorities in East England will move from Tier 2 to Tier 3: Peterborough as well as Bedford, Central Bedfordshire, Luton, and Milton Keynes, which are one local authority.
The same goes for six local authorities in South East England: Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hastings and Rother, Hertfordshire, Surrey (excluding Waverley), as well as Gosport, Havant, and Portsmouth, which are one local authority.
Three local authorities are moving down a tier on Saturday, including Bristol and North Somerset in South West England, which are moving from Tier 3 to Tier 2; and Herefordshire from West Midlands, which is moving from Tier 2 to Tier 1.
All changes will take effect at 00:01 a.m. on Saturday, Hancock said in the announcement.
He said the changes in the East and South East of England were necessary due to the increased number of cases and hospital admissions.
“In the South East of England, cases are up 46 percent in the last week. Hospital admissions are up by more than a third,” Hancock said.
“In the East of England, cases are up two thirds in the last week and hospital admissions are up by nearly half.”
Before the formal review on Wednesday, the government held an emergency review over the weekend, which resulted in London moving to Tier 3 from Wednesday.
Hancock said that the decisions on tiers are made based on five published indicators, including case rates, case rates amongst the over 60s, test positivity, rate of change, and hospital pressure.
For five days between Dec. 23 and Dec. 27, CCP virus restrictions will be relaxed across the UK, meaning three households can form a “Christmas bubble” to meet in private homes and gardens, places of worship, or public outdoor spaces. Travel across different tiers and nations to meet with your Christmas bubble will also be temporarily allowed during the five days.
Hancock had told Parliament on Monday that a new variant of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus has been observed, and it “may be associated” with the faster spread of the virus in the South of England.
According to Public Health England, there is currently no evidence to suggest that the new variant has any impact on disease severity, antibody response, or vaccine efficacy.