I am extremely sorry to announce that from 6am on Sunday 20 December West Berkshire enters the new Tier 4.
I have just concluded a call with Matt Hancock and Jonathan Van Tam who have given MPs in London and the South East the following information:
- The decision is determined by the new variant. JVT said: "Variants occur all the time. Usually these are just random mutations that confer no particular advantage. This is not the case with the current variant. It gives the Coronavirus an advantage in the form of a greater ability to enter the host and multiply. This variant is a distinct quantum change from any previous variant - it is a new branch of the family tree of the virus."
- The characteristics of the variant were confirmed by Porton Down laboratory who have been conducting tests on it this week.
- At present it is believed that the new variant is no more or less deadly than previous strains but it is much more contagious. JVT thinks it is up to 70% more contagious than previous strains.
- All areas entering into Tier 4 are showing "significant ingress of the new variant." West Berkshire is a strong example of this where our rate of infection has spiked like never before in the last fortnight.
I will post the full rules under Tier 4 below.
More information around Government support is to be published tomorrow but just to clarify a few points:
- Children team sports can continue
- Adults can continue to exercise outdoor with one other person. That means you can go for a walk with someone from outside your household.
- Places of worship will remain open during the Christmas period.
- Support bubbles can remain.
I know how disappointing this decision will be particularly because of Christmas.
I want to reassure you that the Pfizer vaccine is now making solid progress and it is believed that the Oxford Vaccine is now days away from receiving approval which will make a massive difference to the speed and extent of the vaccine rollout. I will continue to update you with information as it is made available to me.