Northamptonshire goes into TIER THREE from one minute past midnight on Boxing Day

Health Secretary's announcement means pubs shut and sporting events behind closed doors — but shops and hairdressers stay open

By Kevin Nicholls
Wednesday, 23rd December 2020, 5:43 pm

Northamptonshire will be in Tier Three under the Government's Covid Winter Plan from a minute past midnight on Boxing Day morning.

Christmas Day mixing among families will be allowed but with a stern warning to minimise social contact.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock made the dramatic announcement in a 3pm news briefing, adding more areas to the highest tier of restrictions.

Matt Hancock confirmed Northamptonshire will be in Tier Three from Boxing Day

He said: "The vast majority of people understand what we need to do together to get through this.

"Cases are rising in places close to current Tier Four areas. Although those case rates are not as high, the direction is clear."

Northamptonshire is among several areas being elevated from Tier Two to Tier Three alongside Bristol, Gloucestershire, Somerset, Swindon, Isle of Wight, New Forest, Cheshire and Warrington.

Others will move from Tier Three to the highest level — including two more of Northants neighbours counties of Oxfordshire and Cambridgeshire.

How the rolling rate of positive Covid cases has risen since the lockdown ended on December 2, according to Government figures

Leicestershire and Warwickshire remain in Tier Three for now.

Mr Hancock said: "After all the efforts we have gone through to control this virus, just as we've got a tiered system in place that was able to control it, we discovered a new more contagious variant spreading at a dangerous rate.

"I know these actions have consequences but I know it is right to take this action. Cases have risen 57 per cent in last week, average hospital admissions are 1,019 a day — the highest since April. There are 18,943 people in hospital with Covid right now -- almost as many as at the peak.

"Yesterday, 691 deaths were reported — people who have died just before Christmas of this horrible disease.

"It is absolutely vital that we act as we cannot have kind of Christmas we all yearn for. We must minimise social contact to protect our loved ones and the whole country."

Our county remained in Tier Two following last week's review but the number of positive tests has soared since then.

Last night's daily bulletin revealed a record 388 positive tests across the county and nearly 1,800 in the last week.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson escalated neighbouring areas Milton Keynes, Peterborough and Bedford into Tier Four at the weekend after studying data on a new variant of the virus which speeds up transmission.

That forced non-essential shops to close in those areas, prompting a rush from Tier Four towns and cities to shops in Northamptonshire.

Tier Three restrictions mean no mixing with family and friends at home and only in groups of up to six in some public places outdoors, including children of any age.

Pubs and restaurants must close unless they are operating as takeaways only.

But non-essential retailers; businesses such as hair, beauty and nail salons; gyms, pools, and leisure facilities; public buildings such as libraries can stay open OPEN.

Northampton Saints Boxing Day fixture against Worcester and Northampton Town's League One clash with Gillingham on Tuesday night will both be played behind closed doors.

The clubs had been allowed to sell 2,000 tickets as long as the town remained in Tier Two — although Director of Public Health Lucy Warned yesterday she believed any such large gatherings would be "not sensible."