Coronavirus: North Devon and Torridge escape tier change but millions locked down

Health Secretary Matt Hancock during a media briefing on coronavirus (COVID-19) in Downing Street, L

Health Secretary Matt Hancock during a media briefing on coronavirus (COVID-19) in Downing Street, London. - Credit: PA

North Devon and Torridge have remained in Tier 2 as the Government announced a further tightening of Covid-19 restrictions across the country today (Wednesday, December 23). 

From Boxing Day, millions more people from the east of England to Berkshire will be in Tier 4, the highest category – essentially a national lockdown with a ‘stay at home’ order.

Locally, the whole of Devon remains in Tier 2, as it has from the beginning of the tier system, but Cornwall has now also been placed in Tier 2, up from its former Tier 1 status. 

The whole of Somerset, most of the Midlands and all the north of England is now in Tier 3. 

It follows the announcement of a mutated strain of coronavirus that has been spreading much faster then its predecessor. 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the variant coronavirus was spreading at a "dangerous rate" as he announced the fresh Tier 4 restrictions. 

He also said cases of another new mutant coronavirus linked to South Africa had been found in the UK and placed travel restrictions on the country. 

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Mr Hancock told a Downing Street press conference: "Just as we had got a tiered system in place that was able to control this virus we have discovered a new, more contagious virus - a variant that is spreading at a dangerous rate." 

The Health Secretary set out details on the discovery of the South African variant in the UK. 

He said the two cases were contacts of people who have travelled from South Africa over the past few weeks. 

"This new variant is highly concerning because it is yet more transmissible and it appears to have mutated further than the new variant that has been discovered in the UK," he said. 

The Health Secretary said the cases and their close contacts have been quarantined. 

He announced immediate restrictions on travel from South Africa and the Government is telling those who have been to the country in the last fortnight and their close contacts to quarantine immediately. 

The law will be changed to make that enforceable, he added. 

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