Cornwall to move in to Tier 2 from Boxing Day as coronavirus cases rise

St Ives, in Cornwall.

Cornwall will be moved from Tier 1 to Tier 2 as of Boxing Day.

The Government announced the tougher restrictions on Wednesday 23 December, amid rising coronavirus rates in the county.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said there are "early signs" of the new variant in parts of the South West.

"We are also taking action in parts of the South West where there are some early signs of the new variants and where cases are rising.

"Even though case rates in some of these areas are not as high as they are in the areas badly affected - in London and in Kent - the direction is quite clear and in many cases quite stark."

The Health Secretary said Cornwall has seen "sharply rising rates".

Cornwall was the only part of the UK mainland to be placed under the lowest possible set of restrictions and has remained in Tier 1 ever since the system was introduced.

While rates are rising, they are still low compared to the rest of the country.

The current rate of infection is around 63.1 per 100,000 - up from 20.6 in the seven days leading up to December 10.

The rate for the South West is 122.5 per 100,000 - the lowest rate in the country.

Elsewhere in the West Country, Bristol, Gloucestershire, Somerset - including North Somerset - Swindon will all be moved up to Tier 3.

Matt Hancock said: "We know that the three-tiered system worked to control the old variant and is working now in large parts of the country especially in the north of the country.

"But we also know that Tier 3 is not enough to control the new variant. It is not a hypothesis, it is a fact, and we've seen it in the ground."

How have the rules changed?

Under Tier 1, people in Cornwall have been able to meet up both indoors and outdoors as long as they followed the rule of six. Pubs and restaurants could also open - with last orders at 10pm and closing at 11pm.

But Tier 2 peoples people can not mix indoors - apart from if they are in a support bubble.

Up to six people can still meet outdoors.

Pubs and restaurants can open, with last orders at 10pm and closing at 11pm - but alcohol can only be served with a substantial meal.

Reaction from local leaders

Director of public health for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly Rachel Wigglesworth said: “Unfortunately, we’re now seeing a steep rise in case numbers across the country – including here in Cornwall. Changing tier means stricter rules, but if we all stick to them it will help prevent the virus from spreading further.

“It is absolutely vital that we continue to follow the guidelines to keep one another safe.

“Testing facilities will be open over the festive period, so if you have any symptoms – a persistent cough, a high temperature or a loss of taste or smell - please remember to self-isolate straight away and book a test.”

Cornwall Council Deputy Leader Adam Paynter said: “I know how hard people in Cornwall have worked to stick to the rules, but this steep rise in case numbers demands urgent action. Moving up a tier will introduce some additional rules aimed at stopping the virus from spreading as freely in our communities.

 “I can’t stress how important it is that we all stick to these new rules and follow the public health guidance. We must safeguard the most vulnerable among us and protect our NHS through what is likely to be an incredibly difficult few weeks for all of us."

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