New Tier 4 and Christmas bubble changes: What Boris Johnson announcement means for Leeds and new rules in full

People in Leeds will see Christmas plans thwarted as Boris Johnson toughens festive household mixing plans across England.
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The Prime Minister has cancelled Christmas for millions of people across London and south-east England after scientists said that a new coronavirus variant is spreading more rapidly.

From Sunday areas in the South East currently in Tier 3 will be moved into a new Tier 4 – effectively returning to the lockdown rules of November.

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The rest of England, including Leeds, will see changes to the Christmas “bubble” policy.

Everything you need to know about the new changes in LeedsEverything you need to know about the new changes in Leeds
Everything you need to know about the new changes in Leeds

What does the Tier 4 announcement mean for Leeds?

Latest figures from the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) showed the R number for the UK was estimated to have risen to between 1.1 and 1.2 – which means the disease is growing again.

Much of the the latest focus is on the South and East of England where the new variant is thought to be most prevalent.

The areas with the highest rates of infection will be moved into a new Tier 4 – effectively returning to the lockdown rules of November.

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Non-essential shops, gyms, cinemas, hairdressers and bowling alleys will be forced to close for two weeks – while people will be restricted to meeting one other person from another household in an outdoor public space.

The infection rate across most areas in Yorkshire is falling, bucking the national trend.

The rate in Leeds has risen slightly in the last seven days, up from 139.2 to 140.5, but remains lower than many Tier 2 areas across the country.

If the rate in Leeds remains stable or begins to fall again, it is unlikely that the city will see stricter measures introduced.

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Will people in Leeds be able to travel to London and the South East over Christmas?

No - under the new “stay at home” order, people in Tier 4 will be told they should not stay away from home overnight.

People from outside will be advised not to visit Tier 4 areas.

People throughout England are advised to “stay local” and avoid overseas travel, while those in Tier 4 will only be able to go abroad for essential business.

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The new Tier 4 restrictions will apply in all Tier 3 areas in the South East – covering Kent, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Surrey (excluding Waverley), Gosport, Havant, Portsmouth, Rother and Hastings.

It will also apply in London (all 32 boroughs and the City of London) and the East of England – Bedford, Central Bedford, Milton Keynes, Luton, Peterborough, Hertfordshire and Essex (excluding Colchester, Uttlesford and Tendring).

What are the changes to Christmas bubble rules in Leeds?

The festive bubble policy across Tier 1, 2 and 3 areas of England will be dramatically scaled back to just Christmas Day, the Prime Minister said.

So any plans made in the five days around Christmas will have to be cancelled.

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People in Leeds can now only mix with people outside their household or support bubble indoors on Christmas Day.

What is the new variant of coronavirus and does it make people sicker?

The new variant strain of the virus which causes Covid-19 may be up to 70% more transmissible and could increase the R value by 0.4, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.

Professor Chris Whitty said there had been a “really dramatic increase in the proportion of cases” seen with the new variant.

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Screening tests suggested that in the South East 43% of the virus was now the new variant, in the East of England it is 59% and in London 62%.

Sir Patrick said that there was no evidence that the new variant “causes more trouble” and would make people sicker.

He added there were “theoretical reasons” to suggest that it may alter an immune response though there was no evidence for this.

“Our working assumption from all the scientists is that the vaccine response should be adequate for this virus,” he told the Downing Street press conference.

“We need to keep vigilant about this.”

What is the guidance on shielding?

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Professor Chris Whitty suggested the guidance around shielding was being reviewed.

England’s chief medical officer told a Downing Street news conference: “The shielding patterns are actually being re-looked at.

“The view about shielding is that, in the first wave, shielding did many things that were useful but also did many things that were actually actively harmful.

“And we therefore changed the model of shielding since the first wave, and that includes people being able to get out more in many situations, and also areas around work.

“But this is something which people are keeping on looking at, to try and get the optimal balance between isolating people too much and isolating them enough from the virus. “