Could Suffolk go into Tier 3 or 4 on Boxing Day?
- Credit: Archant
Parts of the country could move up a tier as early as Boxing Day as ministers meet to decide whether tougher restrictions are needed in areas where infections are rising.
It is understood that ministers will meet in Whitehall later today to discuss the tier system, as cases continue to grow across the nation.
The decision to review the system comes as a new mutated surge of the virus – which has been confirmed in Suffolk – is seeing rates rise rapidly.
Communities secretary Robert Jenrick said there is no "immediate plan" to widen coronavirus restrictions on Boxing Day but that the government would be meeting today to review the situation and "make a judgment".
He said: "We don't have an immediate plan to take action, but the number of cases is rising and the (new coronavirus) variant is spreading to other parts of the country, so we will see whether it's necessary to do more and make sure that the tiered system is sufficiently robust for the new circumstances.
"Because remember, the tiered system was designed before we knew the full ferocity of the new variant, and so we do have to make sure it's sufficiently robust to be able to withstand this and to stop cases just rising at the very worrying levels they are now in parts of the country."
Council leaders and MPs have warned that Suffolk could move up a tier as a result of the rises locally, which have seen two parts of Suffolk record a seven-day infection rate higher than 200 cases per 100,000.
Babergh currently has the highest infection rate in the county after 239 new cases took the rate there to 259.7 per 100,000. Ipswich is slightly lower at a rate of 244.0 per 100,000.
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All other areas of the county, which had recorded rates of less than 100 per 100,000 last week, are now well into the mid to high 100s.
Both Mid Suffolk and West Suffolk had been among the very lowest in England for their Covid case rates, however figures there now stand at 186.7 per 100,000 and 183.2 per 100,000 respectively.
In East Suffolk, the rate now stands at 150.3 per 100,000.
Should Suffolk move up a tier, it is unknown whether the surging case rates would be enough to see the county enter the toughest Tier 4 restrictions, currently in place in the majority of Essex.