Tougher Covid restrictions could be rolled out – what could new rules look like?

Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine begins rollout in the UK

This morning Health Secretary Matt Hancock refused to rule out another national lockdown and harsher restrictions amid the heightened spread of the new variant of Covid-19. The latest data shows a 33 percent rise in the number of confirmed patients in hospital with the virus in England between Christmas Day and January 2.

He told Sky News: “We don’t rule anything out, and we’ve shown repeatedly that we will look at the public health advice and we will take the public health advice in terms of what is needed to control the spread of the disease.

“This new variant is much easier to catch, it is much more transmissible, and we’re now seeing the effect of that in lots of different parts of the country, unfortunately.

“And it means that whereas the old Tier 3 was able to contain the old variant, that is proving increasingly difficult in all parts of the country.”

His comments come amid speculation that schools will soon be closed after millions of primary age children headed back into classrooms this morning.

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What could the new rules be?

Any new restrictions, whether it be a full national lockdown or an extra Tier for the worst affected areas, coming from the Government are likely to resemble those of the first lockdown.

New measures are likely to include the closure of schools and universities, with the official advice returning to only leaving your home if it is absolutely essential.

In Tier 4, primary schools are remaining open for now, aside from in some areas where infection rates are high, such as London, and secondary school returns are staggered across the country.

Even with hospitality closed and shops shut in Tier 4, stricter limits on going out and socializing with others could also be likely.

The next step is likely to ban mixing outside of households unless in an emergency, caring or work environment.

Currently, those in Tier 4 can meet one other from outside their household in an outdoor public space, and those in Tier 3 can gather with those they do not live with in groups of six.

There could also be a limit on how long people are allowed out for a day.

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Across the UK there is no limit to how long you can spend outside of your house.

However, during the spring lockdown, you were only permitted to leave your house for one hour a day for exercise or to buy essentials, such as food and medicine.

Working from home could also become mandatory if your job can be done at home.

Currently, working from home is advised if it possible – but offices have been allowed to remain open.

Visits to care homes could also be banned – currently, relatives and friends can visit those in care homes with heavy safety measures in place – but this could be ruled out altogether.

Travelling to second/holiday homes is also likely to be banned again.

Playgrounds could also close as well as all public leisure facilities.

Outdoor playgrounds are currently open in Tier 4 and below.

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