‘Tier 4’ restrictions for South East confirmed by Prime Minister

PM Boris Johnson

The South East, London and East of England has been moved into new Tier 4 restrictions with a reversal of the relaxing of measures over Christmas and the closure of non-essential shops, indoor gyms, leisure and personal/beauty services from tomorrow morning (December 20 – 00.01am).

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the tougher restrictions today (December 19) following an emergency Cabinet meeting earlier in the day.

The Tier measure, applies to areas including Kent, London, Berkshire, Surrey (excluding Waverley), Gosport, Havant, Portsmouth, Rother and Hastings as well as Bedford, Milton Keynes, Luton, Peterborough, Hertfordshire, Essex (excluding Colchester, Uttlesford and Tendring).

What are the Tier 4 measures?

Non-essential shops will close again Photo Carl Hudson

Tier 4 is essentially the same rules as November lockdown.

Residents must stay at home, apart from limited exemptions set out in law such as travelling to work or education.

Non-essential retail, indoor gyms and leisure facilities, and personal care services must close.

People must work from home if they can, but may travel to work if this is not possible, for example in the construction and manufacturing sectors.

People should not enter or leave tier 4 areas, and tier 4 residents must not stay overnight away from home. Individuals can only meet one person from another household in an outdoor public space.

Unlike the November national restrictions, communal worship can continue to take place in tier 4 areas.

Those in tier 4 areas will not be permitted to travel abroad apart from limited exceptions, such as for work purposes.

The Christmas relaxation measures are reversed in Tier 4 and across England the relaxation is now only in place for Christmas Day.

It means those living in tier 4 areas should not mix with anyone outside their own household at Christmas, though support bubbles will remain in place for those at particular risk of loneliness or isolation.

Across the rest of the country, the Christmas rules allowing up to three households to meet will now be limited to Christmas Day only, rather than the five days as previously set out.

This will be reviewed on December 30.

The PM was joined at the briefing by England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty and the UK’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.

Why has Tier 4 been brought in?

The measures are prompted by the new strain of coronavirus which has been spreading rapidly throughout London and Kent and, scientists say, is up to 70% more contagious than any previously detected.

Ahead of the conference, Chief Medical Officer for England, Professor Chris Whitty said: “As announced on Monday, the UK has identified a new variant of Covid-19 through Public Health England’s genomic surveillance.

“As a result of the rapid spread of the new variant, preliminary modelling data and rapidly rising incidence rates in the South East, the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) now consider that the new strain can spread more quickly.

“We have alerted the World Health Organisation and are continuing to analyse the available data to improve our understanding.

“There is no current evidence to suggest the new strain causes a higher mortality rate or that it affects vaccines and treatments although urgent work is underway to confirm this.

“Given this latest development it is now more vital than ever that the public continue to take action in their area to reduce transmission.”

What is the new strain?

The strain was identified due to Public Health England’s (PHE) monitoring following the increase in cases in Kent and London.

It has been named VUI – 202012/01 and contains 23 different variants. The variant is thought to have first occurred in London or Kent in September and is now becoming the dominant variant, said Prof Chris Whitty.

PHE says high numbers of cases of the variant virus have been observed in some areas where there is also a high incidence of COVID-19.

It is not uncommon for viruses to undergo mutations; seasonal influenza mutates every year. Variants of SARS-CoV-2 have been observed in other countries, such as Spain.

This variant includes a mutation in the ‘spike’ protein. Changes in this part of the spike protein result in the virus becoming more infectious and spreading more easily between people.

Early analysis suggests the new variant could increase R by 0.4 or greater. Although there is considerable uncertainty, it may be up to 70% more transmissible than the old variant.

Dr Susan Hopkins, Test and Trace and PHE Joint Medical Advisor, said: “We are investigating a new strain of SARS-CoV-2, predominantly in Kent and the surrounding areas. It is not unexpected that the virus should evolve and it’s important that we spot any changes quickly to understand the potential risk any variant may pose.”

Rising hospital cases

Covid care Photo EKHUFT

Weekly data from NHS England shows a large rise in the number of covid patients being cared for by East Kent Hospitals (Margate, Ashford and Canterbury).

The latest data shows 349 beds in use for covid patients under the trust on December 15.

This is a rise of some 122 from the previous week when the Trust had recorded  227 covid patients as of December 8,.

The data also shows a rise of mechanical ventilation beds in use for patients with confirmed positive covid tests from 18 on December 8 to 26 on December 15.

The trust has recorded 669 covid related deaths across its hospitals since the pandemic began up to December 17 although data between December 13-17 – recording 40 losses- is provisional and could be updated.

A statement from the Kent & Medway Clinical Commissioning Group says: “All hospitals across Kent and Medway continue to be under significant pressure due to the high rates of infection in the local communities.

“We have opened more critical care beds to support Covid-19 patients, and will be opening more. We’re continuing to provide cancer and other urgent operations. However, we are now pausing non-urgent elective services. This will allow staff to move to support the increased number of Covid-19 patients.

“We will keep this under weekly review and will contact individual patients where appointments need to be rescheduled.”

Data obtained by Shepway Vox also shows some 1,544 QEQM Hospital staff self-isolating due to the virus since March. For December that figure currently stands at 62.

Thanet data

Latest government data (published December 19 and displaying the rate for the week up to December 14), shows rises in the positive case rate per 100,000 people across Kent.

The figure for Thanet has started to rise again although the district is now among the lower rates in the county, standing at 536.9 per 100,000 according to government data. Kent County Council data, for week ending December 15, has Thanet at a much higher rate of 596.8.

The data shows 75 new positive cases reported for Thanet today (December 19) making a seven day total of 760, up 27.3% on the preceding seven days. A total of 5,800 positive tests have been recorded for Thanet.

The total number of people recorded who have died within 28 days of testing positive for Coronavirus as of 18 December was 215 (loss of life within 28 days of a positive test). Covid-19 is mentioned on the death certificate but may not be the primary cause of death.


Kenneth Lamb receiving the vaccine from Kirsty Rison, Occupational Health Nurse at William Harvey Hospital (Photo EKHUFT)

The NHS is carrying out its vaccination programme with the Pfizer/BioTech vaccine. Sites include three GP surgeries in Thanet and William Harvey Hospital in Ashford.

More practices will be included on a phased basis during December and in the coming months.

People aged 80 and over as well as care home workers have been first to receive the jab, along with NHS workers who are at higher risk.

To date some 350,000 people have had vaccinations.

The GP sites providing Covid-19 vaccinations in Thanet

Asymptomatic testing

Targeted asymptomatic testing launched in Kent on Friday (December 18), with the first sites in Swale and Thanet to be followed by a rolling programme across the county to try to reduce the rates of Covid-19.

KCC has been working closely with Thanet District Council to identify a site for Ramsgate Port.

The site is in addition to the DHSC run regional and local test sites for people who have symptoms, including those at Manston and Margate. The asymptomatic testing will find people who don’t currently have symptoms who may be unknowingly spreading the virus.

People will be invited to testing by a letter or email.

Residents attending this testing will undergo a lateral flow swab test and will receive their result within half an hour of attending the test. If they are positive, they will be told to self-isolate, follow the national guidance and they will be instructed to have a PCR test to confirm their positive result.

If they are negative, they must still continue to observe social distancing guidelines, wear a mask in public and regularly wash hands.

Staff have been recruited to the asymptomatic testing sites using funding from central Government.

Weekly covid rates (up to December 14)  per 100,000 (government data)

England 240.5

Epping Forest724.4
Barking and Dagenham673.5
Castle Point573.2
Waltham Forest565.4
Folkestone and Hythe560.2
Tonbridge and Malling558.4

Other Kent areas

Tunbridge Wells339.4

The figures are updated daily, although there is some time lag on some statistics. They can be found on the government dashboard here and here and on the KCC website here


  1. At last he has seen sense .
    To many people flaunting the rules .
    Well now pay the price no shops at all .
    No non essential travel and no households mixing .
    He should put if you flout rules you will be prosecuted.

  2. We are reaping what we sow. Refusing to take this seriously. Still see so many maskless people who don’t care, so this is what happens.

    • Totally agree .
      It’s caused by selfish people not obeying rules .
      If you flout the rules you should be prosecuted simple .

      • Can we prosecute the fat and obese for being similarly selfish by choosing to eat as they do and expecting society to deal with the consequences , which with covid are amplified.
        Or perhaps we should call those , that expect the vast majority to be locked down to protect a minority who can be protected by isolating themselves ,selfish instead.

          • Oh I’m not scared of it, I’m not happy about being locked down, but it is attitudes like yours that put us in this mess.

            Every right has a responsibility. Want to go places during a pandemic, that’s fine wear a mask. Can’t handle the responsibility, then you don’t get the rights.

          • The freedoms to do what? Is going to a pub really that important that it is worth catching this & even if it doesn’t affect those catching it how about the others they come into contact with? You can go to the supermarket & buy all the booze you like, or even get it delivered to your door. Is getting bladdered with others in a pub or bar really worth more than human life?

          • Thanet egg, i wear a mask where required, its hardly a big deal, but pretty pointless when there are so many that won’t , futile having rules for which there is no sanction if brocken , what with the politically correct notion that no one has to prove they are exempt the whole thing is a waste of time.

        • Do you smoke ? Take illegal drugs? drink too much alcohol? not exercise enough? or is your only vice being nasty? Why are there so many sanctimonious arses around these days?

          • Thats not my,point, it was in response to the calls of selfishness and need to protect the nhs , which if taken at a logical level extends to being obese, no you can’t catch it its basically a choice which makes it something easily avoided.
            Before covid the nhs was spending 16 billion a year treating the effects of being overweight , halve that and the nhs has no funding issues and plenty left over to go towards social care.
            Quite why a few facts and figures about the chices some people make iis nasty i don’t understand. Please enlighten me.

        • Local chap. Sometimes you speak a lot of sense, on this occasion your spouting rubbish.

          People who need to be shielded generally need care and are assisted by an army of carers, social workers, doctors, nurses and chemists. Are you seriously denying the vulnerable the right to care and medical professionals ?

          The vulnerable can’t just lock themselves away, they still require care. If the rest of society just carry’s on as though there is no pandemic then all the carers, doctors, nurses and chemists etc are no longer able to visit and attend to the needs of the vulnerable because they would be in contact with an out of control highly contagious disease every single day. Unless every carer, doctor nurse chemist etc shielded along with the vulnerable your plan for life continuing as normal falls flat on its face.

          I know 2 people in Thanet that have died of this disease (admittedly old) and several other people people who have been hit hard by this deadly disease and a couple of men (early 50s) who have been hospitalised for several days and required help breathing . These men who were hospitalised are not overweight, they are build like tanks. I also know 2 people who are now suffering the effects of long COVID, with one of them an ex marathon runner who up until now was one of the healthiest people I have ever met.

          You argue that overweight people bring illness on themselves, then the same can be said for smokers, alcohol drinkers and even meat eaters. Should these people (that’s the vast vast majority of the population) be denied treatment on the NHS because of lifestyle choices ? People who work shift work die earlier because of their irregular hours, should they also be excluded from medical help because of their jobs? Should people who have big families be penalised for using up more resources ?

          Yes people need to be accountable for their actions but when it comes to a deadly highly contagious disease then compassion comes ahead of blame.

          The point of lockdowns isn’t necessarily because of the risk of death by this deadly disease, it’s to do with the fact that the hospitals become overrun with patients. Yes 99% of them will recover but they are still taking up precious beds and overwhelming the Heath service.

          • Good evening, i’ve obviously put my point across badly, i agree largely with what you say, however (as i’ve said many times) ask a frontline nhs worker the common factor with the patients under their care for covid, it’ll be excess weight , this fact is hidden by the diseases associated with excess weight being the named issues.
            Even 30 years ago the numbers of those overweight was a fraction of todays, the trend shows no sign of slowing. The current burden on the nhs from covid is one of our own making. If the problem of excess weight were not what it is the nhs would cope with covid very nicely and still be able to offer more of its normal services.
            Even drug addicts are more resilient to covid than the obese. Everone is obsessed with the notion of dieing , but for the vast majority its very unlikely . Yes people will trot out examples of the statistical outliers to show that it can get anyone, but thats more a case of the exceptions provimg the rule.
            How a nation came to the point that 10 year olds are scared of being killed by covid is a huge failing of the education system, they should be told that they have very little to fear and that for most their grandparents too are safe , but that they should avoid meeting their great grand parents and speak on the phone more.
            We have a vaccine that we don’t know stops us being able to spread covid, so only protects the person having it for sure, but 99.9 odd percent of the population have nothing to fear anyway, so vaccinate the old and vulnerable and anyone that wants it. Though given we’re told that there have been and still are huge numbers who’ve has or have covid without knowing it , do we not accept that they’ve had the best vaccine of all (the virus for real).
            Screwfix at one time just did click and collect, worked a dream , in and out in no time. But now they allow counter service, so lots of people dithering over the “have you got a thingamejig that does” often no mask and a catalogue being passed back and forth between staff and customer. The company won’t turn away customers and too many people are just plain lazy or unable to organise their lives. A real nuisance as each visit now takes 10 times longer than it should.
            I put the fat in the same group , lazy and want the easy option and unable to organise their lives ( yes i accept their are a small minority with genuine issues, but not a third plus of the nation).
            It may be an uncomfortable truth but its still a truth.

      • You absolute imbecile, yes let’s lock everybody up for trying to hold on to their freedoms, honestly, lock yourself up if your so damn bothered but do not force your fears on to those of us that wish to live life and not curtail to the governments overreaction.

      • Went in to the range and there were people no mask and one person behind me said to his wife oh don’t bother sanitising,and no mask shop manager should pick up on these people with no mask ,my husband and I have a shop and will not let them without a mask and if they don’t have one they have to buy one .too many people not taking it seriously

      • Which is probably a miniscule percentage.. not whole families, not the vast majority of children, not those that feel its ruining their street cred. Not those that thought a day at the seaside or a party was more important. Grow up. If everyone had done the right thing we would not be in the mess we are this Christmas.

  3. I find it disappointing to read so much rubbishing of the local community. People adhere, or fail to adhere, to the same degree up and down this country.

    We’re very much affected by commuting and other factors including a more infectious strain in Kent.

    Yes some flout rules, but that’s the same everywhere. Low rates don’t necessarily mean better behaviour.

  4. Due to the selfish people some who think they are invincible, the covid curse still controls the human race.so all you half wits that are in denial, and do not abide by the rules. Wake up get a grip maybe you dont value your life but I do mine, by all means die if you want to but don’t take everyone else with you.

  5. Surely its a case of working out what your own risk factor is and behaving accordingly and making sure you avoid those at a higher risk. For something that is not going to cause the vast majority of people any real harm, the levels of fear and the restrictions are just absurd.

    • And that sadly is the attitude that has us in this situation. Too many idiots who considered they are not at risk or a risk to anyone else. Well done all for ruining it for those that have tried to get this area clear of this disease.

      • I completely agree.
        I am really quite angry over the attitude of some people (sadly, far too many) to coronavirus.
        Suppose those of you who think it’s a trivial nuisance equip yourselves with a sort of un-MediAlert bracelet: one which makes it quite clear that should you succumb to the virus, you give up the right to NHS treatment?
        More than 500 NHS staff have died of C19. None needed to. I dont see why one more should put their lives and the livelihoods of their families on the line for the likes of Local Chap and Adam Eavy.

        • Many of those nhs workers put their lives on the line as a result of the lifestyles they chose to do mothing about. Covid in itself kills such a small number of people that its negligible, what it does do is affect those whose bodies are already weakened through old age or underlying issues.
          That the average age of a “covid” fatality is greater than the average uk life expectancy surely says something.
          When the second lockdown occurred there was not a single person being treated for covid in intensive care, people there listened made informed choices and got on with life.
          Life is not risk free and never will or should be, the current course of action ( in my opinion ) is going to do far more harm to the country , than targeted vaccination and shielding. The politicians only take these measures because they’ll be judged as wrong if they ignore just one piece of advice that results in someone passing away.
          Do,inic cummings got a slating for his actions but at least stood by his beliefs and refused to aplogise, Rosie Duffield made a simpering apology and was forgiven , both broke the rules why does a grovelling apology make a difference?

          • “Many of those nhs workers put their lives on the line as a result of the lifestyles they chose to do mothing about”
            Are you suggesting that the > 500 doctors and nurses and other care staff who’ve died of C19 did so because of life style choice? Are you actually denying the fact that these selfless people died because, in the line of duty, in service to their communities and fellow men, they contracted C19 and as a consequence died?

          • Andrew, no i accept that they caught covid most likely whilst at work. Bit like the majority or working age people that have died from covid, many were overweight and unfit. Workingmin healthcare they most certainly knew about the benefits of being a healthy weight and takiing exercise. However they and many others in the population chose not to do so. Had the 500 being healthier the vast majority would have survived, nhs workers were going to be the most exposed , yet the figures were ( they well have changed ) that workers in the transport industries were the ones that suffered proportionately the greatest number of fatalities.
            Some stats regarding staff in the East Kent Hospital trust.


            And no doubt many more staff had covid at some point , but the decision not to test (as the powers that be didn’t want to send home asymptomatic staff at a time they were desperately needed) means we’ll never know.

            As it currently stands of all those covered by the East kent Hospitals there have been a fraction under a fatality rate of 0.01 %, though this is bound to rise as time passes.

      • Really, read what i said. If you work out your own risk and take measures to protect yourself, you are effectively keeping yoursellf away from those likely to give it to you ( so minimising the chances of passing it on) I then go on to say you make efforts to avoid those more vulnerable than yourself, so that means extra effort.
        Quite what is wrong in this?

  6. Sensibly Thanet could be locked down totally with all roads leading in and out being restricted by the military with the police and Covid-19 inspectors enforcing the rules and regulations inside Thanet.

    The length of time concerning the lockdown is also crucial. Some districts in Australia were in lockdown for up to four months if this were the case in Thanet it would allow sufficient time for all residents who chose to have the vaccination to be vaccinated.

    • Yet in one area in australia the lockdown was cancelled when it was discovered that a covid sufferer had lied to the authorities, in that he’d actually been working at a pizza parlour rather than having just gone to pick up a pizza. We live in a country where there is little fear of sanction for many actions and as a result we have too many who have no intention of doing anything they are told/asked to do.
      Locking people into thanet with no way out is never going to happen nor should it. We have the society we’ve created , i don’t see the electorate voting for harsher pumishments in future and unless the mood changes norhing will happen.

  7. About time, especially seeing as it was this buffoon who came up with this crazy five day super-spreader event idea. Please don’t review it on December 30th, keep it in place until at least the end of January.

  8. So critical workers still have to go to work while all the idiots who caused the rise by not obeying the rules can sit on there arse at home .
    Well I deliver food for a major supermarket maybe I won’t go to work as why should I put my self at risk for people who couldn’t give a toss about rules . The delivery’s should now be for vulnerable and elderly only .

  9. Why can’t we go in to teir 4 after boxing day so all have a good Xmas and boxing day why soil our Xmas just because of this

  10. The government’s Behavioural Insight Team certainly knows how to scare the masses judging by comments here. (a group of psychologists has just written to complain to them about this weaponisation of fear). Get some perspective. These Tier 4 arrangements are not enshrined in law, they are guidance sneaked in after parliament shut for xmas. Some MPs are demanding parliament is recalled to debate this. Quite right. The tests are throwing up many false positives as had been documented many times. Dying within 28 days of having a covid test may mean you have other serious health conditions. The average age of death from the virus is OLDER than the national average age of death. Survival rate is around 99.7 per cent. More deaths will be caused by lockdowns and draconian tiers than the virus itself. Excellent article from timeforrecovery.org last night challenging the government re; the real facts on the so called mutant strain for those who care to research. So many medical and scientific experts challenging the official narrative now, and so much propaganda being spun. Solstice energies could throw up some interesting unexpected consequences. Long live real humanity. Gain some inner peace as it will are good for your immune system.

    • “Survival rate is around 99.7 per cent. More deaths will be caused by lockdowns and draconian tiers than the virus itself.”
      No. This isn’t true.
      It might be true to say that only 0.3% of the population has died from C19 (so far). This is not the same as saying that the “survival rate” is 99.7%. It’s not.
      The survival rate is the number of previously infected people who survived compared with the total number of infected in a particular population, not the whole population.
      On that measure, without intervention such as lockdowns or tiers, something like 2,250,000 UK citizens would die of C19.
      Where is your evidence that lockdown will kill more people than it saves?

      “Solstice energies could throw up some interesting unexpected consequences.”
      Oh! I’ve only just read that bit.
      Now I understand. I had thought that you were serious, but misguided.
      No I realize that you are a nutter.

      • Currently in the East kent Hospital trust area total covid deaths are at just under 0.1% that 669 people out of 720,000 people, take the uk population as 65 million and that translates to around 65,000 so we’re pretty representative . To get to your 0.3% we’d need about another 130,000 to pass away which is pretty unlikely.

        Over the next 5 years there will likely be more than 65,000 additional deaths as a result of people being unable or unwilling to access the health service, untold numbers will have their quality of life spoiled due to posponed operations and treatments. But thats the gamble th governement has taken , in that suffering over long term makes for better headlines than more deths now.

      • Anyone who resorts to slurs is intellectually and psychology challenged. Rotten for your immune system as well Andrew. Extensive reports on the dangers of lockdowns killing more than the virus right across the world. Including from UK MPs. I guess you don’t read or research very widely. However, unlike you, many do, and are likely be more mentally and physically fit… have a good one, you will need it.

    • “These Tier 4 arrangements are not enshrined in law, …”
      Wrong (again). The covid restrictions (whether lockdown or tiers) are enshrined in law.

  11. Guidance is not LAW
    Only Tier’s 1-3 are enshrined in UK law.
    The actual law states – the Christmas “grace period” is 5 days, not the 1 day Boris announced it was changing to today.
    The Government has 2 weeks to seek parliamentary approval and make Tier 4 law with parliament in Christmas recess and is currently not confirmed to return till the 7th January. That means the 2 week deadline will have passed.

    • Oh! That’s all right, then. Lots more opportunity for idiots to ignore the rules, as they’re only “guidance”. Lots more opportunity for the new mutation of CV to infect and kill many more people.
      Good to know, Mr Sheep.

  12. I think it’s wrong to assume that most people are living in fear.

    “Solstice energies”?

    I’m not going to rely on “inner peace”, I’m going to keep taking my Vitamin D tablets.

    • There’s a long running theory that governements use fear to control populations, hitler and jews, america and communism, aids, terrorism, cold war, and now covid. People are more compliant if they are scared.
      Vitamin D will certainly do you no harm and there’s a reasonable body of evidence that it offers benefits in respect of covid, so a sensible course of action.
      And in regard to “cancelling xmas” its really no different to the restrictions placed on the midlands towrds the end of rammadan ( excuse spelling if incorrect) and i’d have been amazed if there had not been an area of the uk which had xmas camcelled, just as its turned out its a big area.

      • There is no “reasonable” body of opinion that vitamin D has any effect on covid whatsoever.
        Vitamin D, along with all the other vitamins, are important to your well being.
        But it is a mistake to think that vitamin D and a covid vaccine are similarly effective. They’re not.

        • And where did i say they were similarly effective? The words used were “offered benefits”, the body of evidence drawn from observations that many of those most adversely affected by covid had low vitamin D levels, nothing proven but no harm in taking a supplement if tou so wish.

    • If you’re going to do it well Marva have vitamin D3 with K2, and vitamin C and zinc, and elderberry syrup or similar. And people without inner peace are prone to all sorts of illnesses. Lots of studies on that one. Have a good one.

  13. I still think it’s wrong to assume that most people are living in fear.

    And how on earth do you “cancel” Christmas? It’s a religious festival. If you’re a Christian, you can worship alone, surely? If not, you can do what you want on Christmas Day, so long as it’s legal. But this year, you shouldn’t do anything to put others at risk of getting coronavirus. What’s so difficult about that?

  14. Great news for Brexiteers! Because of the new mutant strain of CV, Europe has closed its borders with the UK.
    Thus Coronavirus has achieved in a couple of days what the government couldn’t manage in 4 years!
    What a wonderful opportunity for us all, now that we’ve regained control of our borders and our Sovereignty to make Britain great again.

    Someone had better come up with a plan pdq or we’ll all be starving.

    • Phyllis, the playbook’s already written. Don’t you realise? But also liable to change. That’s the good news, for those not rammed too deeply down the negativity abyss.

  15. Andrew, get yourself booked in to see a doctor. You need medical help immediately, please for the sake of Thanet..

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