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South East’s Christmas ‘Bubble’ Bursts As Millions Moved Into Tougher Tier 4

Published on: 19 Dec, 2020
Updated on: 19 Dec, 2020

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announces the new lockdown for the South East and East of England

The expected Christmas “bubble” has burst for many. Much of South East England comes under a new Tier 4 level of Covid-19 restrictions from tomorrow morning, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced today (December 19). This cancels the Christmas relaxation.

The new restrictions, which apply to all of Surrey, excluding the Borough of Waverley, will be broadly equivalent to those introduced in England under “Lockdown 2”, Mr Johnson said.

Residents must stay at home, with limited exemptions. Non-essential retails and indoors gyms must close;

People should work from home when they can, and should not enter or leave Tier 4 areas;

Communal worship may continue;

People should not travel into a Tier 4 area, though support bubbles remain unaffected as do the exemptions for separated parents and their children; and

The restrictions will last two weeks and be reviewed on 30 December.

The prime minister said the spread of the virus in many parts of South East England is now “being driven by the new variant of the virus”. About 43% of new cases detected in the South East are the variant.

He said there’s no evidence it causes more severe illness or higher mortality.

“It may be up to 70% more transmissible than the old variant,” he added, although the early data is subject to review.

Angela Richardson speaking in the House of Commons in November.

Angela Richardson commented shortly after the announcement: “Concerning to hear today that the variant strain of the virus is up to 70% more transmissible and can increase the R number by 0.4% or more.

“It will be frustrating to many residents of Guildford Borough to find themselves moved so quickly from Tier 2 to 4 with abrupt changes to their Christmas plans already made. I am also deeply concerned about the impact on our non-essential retail, gyms and beauty businesses and will be asking for further support.

“For many, it will be a comfort that communal worship can continue. Please do continue to show resolve in what continues to be incredibly challenging circumstances for all.”

Cllr Joss Bigmore

Leader of Guildford Borough Council, Cllr Joss Bigmore said: “Of course today’s news is distressing for people all over the country.  Seeing family and friends at Christmas was providing light and hope to many at the end of this unprecedented year, but because the rate of infection is increasing, those plans will have to change.

“We must now follow the new restrictions.  The virus mutation seems to be far easier to pass to one another so we must reduce social interactions further to keep it under control and avoid overwhelming our hospitals.

“We know this is difficult but urge you to please be vigilant and continue to look after each other by following the rules.  Remember that many are being vaccinated every day, there is hope and although today maybe dark and comes as a blow to our festive spirit, I think Churchill said: “it’s always darkest before the dawn” – if we follow the guidance now we can get through this together.

“If you need us [at GBC], please get in touch. We are here for all of our residents and businesses, visit guidlford.gov.uk or call 01483 44 44 00 on Monday.

Cllr Tim Oliver

And Tim Oliver, leader of Surrey County Council, added: “I know this will come as a blow to residents and businesses across Surrey, but it is absolutely necessary that we act fast to save lives.

“We are essentially heading back into the lockdown restrictions the whole country was under in November, and unfortunately, we will not be having the Christmas that we all hoped for.

“It is tough to take, after a really difficult year but we must keep up the fight. Let’s not let our guard down, let’s all play our part and keep Surrey safe.

“Surrey’s Local Resilience Forum, including the county council, will continue our work to ensure that help is available for those in need and our Public Health team will continue to monitor local data every single day to track this virus and stop the spread.

“We will continue to support our NHS colleagues in rolling out the vaccine as fast as possible across Surrey – this is our hope of returning to normal life and we will do everything we can to make this happen.”

Government statistics show increased infection numbers in all of Surrey’s boroughs and districts except Runnymede, in the past week.

And the Covid infection map shows that one of the highest current rates of recent infection, 400 plus, is in a largely rural part of Waverley borough south of Godalming, around Witley. Waverley Borough was excluded from Tier 3 restrictions just three days ago and now remains in Tier 2.

Click on image to enlarge.

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