London to enter Tier 3 as UK government announces tougher Covid rules

London to enter Tier 3 as UK government announces tougher Covid rules

London to enter Tier 3 as UK government announces tougher Covid rules

Commuters walk along the Thames Path in view of Tower Bridge in London, U.K., on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020.

Hollie Adams | Bloomberg via Getty Images

LONDON — London will be placed into England’s toughest tier of coronavirus restrictions from Wednesday, following a rapid rise in Covid-19 infection rates.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock on Monday confirmed the move as he addressed lawmakers in the House of Commons. He said British authorities had identified a new variant of the virus that may be linked with the faster spread of cases in the south east of England.

“Initial analysis suggests that this variant is growing faster than the existing variants,” Hancock said, adding that, so far, 1,000 cases of the new variant have been identified in England.

“There is currently nothing to suggest that this variant is more likely to cause serious disease, and the latest clinical advice is it’s highly unlikely this mutation would fail to respond to a vaccine”

Earlier this month, the government imposed a three-tiered system of public health measures across England to try to curb the spread of the outbreak following a month-long lockdown.

Millions of people across the country were placed into “Tier 3” at the time, but the U.K.’s capital city was put into the second-highest tier of restrictions.

A nationwide review of the tiered-system had initially been scheduled for Dec. 16.

Alongside London, parts of Essex and Hertfordshire are also set to move into “Tier 3” from 00:01 London time on Wednesday.

Under Tier 3 restrictions, people cannot mix indoors, in private gardens or most outdoor venues. Shops, gyms and personal care services like hairdressers are allowed to stay open, but bars, pubs and restaurants must close except for takeaway.

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