The tighter measures come into play from midnight

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced that Greater Manchester will enter Tier 4 - along with much of the country - from midnight tonight. 

Following the rapid spread of a highly infectious mutant strain of the virus in the South West, large swathes of the country will be under the new restrictions from New Year's Eve, putting a dampener on the usual celebratory spirit.

This comes on the back of the news that the Oxford/Zeneca vaccine has been approved and it is hoped that these measures combined with a rapid program of vaccination will get the virus under control.

Time spent outside your home must be minimised and you must only meet with one person from another household

Tier Four is subtitled 'Stay At Home' and means the closure of all non-essential retail, leisure facilities - such as gyms, and personal care - such as hairdressers. This is in addition to the existing rules of Tier 3 in which hospitality, hotels and theatres are closed.

Restaurants and cafes may continue to offer a takeaway, click and collect or delivery service.

If you live in a Tier 4 area, you must not leave or be outside of your home or garden except where you have a ‘reasonable excuse’. Reasonable excuses include work (if it cannot be done from home), volunteering or buying food or medicine. Time spent outside your home must be minimised and you must only meet with one person from another household at a time while staying 2 metres apart. More in-depth rules are outlined on the Government website.

2020 12 30 Tier 4 Ghosttown 2
Usually busy parts of the city are already empty

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council issued a comment in response to the news, he said: 

“The new strain of coronavirus is cause for concern and the enhanced restrictions should be followed judiciously to limit the spread of the variant, which we know passes more readily between people.

“The prospect of Tier 4 will be received once again as a critical blow to the city’s hospitality industry – along with wider retailers who will also now need to close - and whose resilience to the economic impact of the virus is wearing ever thin.

“It is clear that businesses will not be able to survive indefinitely if they are forced to close. Remember that Manchester has been living with enhanced restrictions since March with little respite, and the key question is what further support can businesses expect from Government if they are asked to continue to shut up shop at a crucial time in their trading year.”

2020 12 30 Empty Streets
We can't wait til we can join our friends for a beer again

David Regan, Director of Public Health for Manchester, added: 

"Although there is no evidence that this new variant of the virus causes people to be more ill than previous strains, the fact that it can spread from one person to another more easily is cause for concern.

"However, we already know the best ways of protecting ourselves and loved ones from the virus. And it remains as important as it ever was to follow the rules in place to keep us safe - by washing hands, keeping a distance from others, and wear[ing] a face covering. If you do have symptoms, book a test immediately. And if you’re contacted to receive the vaccine, please attend your appointment."

Joanne Roney OBE, Chief Executive of Manchester City Council, said: 

"I know this will be disappointing news for our residents and for so many of our local businesses who must once again close their doors. But we must remain focused. To keep one another safe we must follow the rules and the guidance. It is only then can we expect to see the positive changes we need to help Manchester move out of this highest tier."

UPDATE: The change in restrictions will also affect students in Tier 4 areas (now 75% of the country) as education secretary Gavin Williamson has today announced that secondary schools will remain closed to most pupils for the first two weeks of term. University students in the highest restricted areas will also face delays in returning to their face to face classes. 

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