BORIS Johnson has addressed the nation as millions more plunge into Tier 4, schools stay shut and UK sees almost 1,000 more deaths.
But what was the Prime Minister's speech about?
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What has Boris Johnson announced?
Boris Johnson made an announcement at 5pm this afternoon.
He led the Downing Street press conference after a very busy day – which included the Brexit deal being voted on by MPs, the Oxford vaccine being approved for use, and the decision being made about reopening schools.
The Prime Minister has welcomed the "good news" about the approval of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine in the UK.
He notes there is a new prioritisation of first doses – with the second dose given 12 weeks later – which will protect "many more people" in the coming weeks.
Yesterday, a record 53,135 cases were recorded as hospital admissions go well past the April peak.
The Prime Minister has urged Brits to be responsible head of New Year and stay at home to help an overwhelmed NHS and ease pressure on hospitals across the country.
The Prime Minister's speech at 5pm followed Education Secretary Gavin Williamson's announcement on schools in Tier 4 areas staying shut for at least two extra weeks.
The PM's address to the nation also followed Health Secretary Matt Hancock's tier update, which has seen three-quarters of England going into Tier 4 lockdown on December 31.
What was announced today?
Mr Hancock confirmed millions more Brits will be plunged into Tier 4 in the days to come – thanks to the mutant virus which is spreading even more quickly across the country.
Millions more people in the North West, Midlands and South West would be plunged into Tier 3 and 4 from tomorrow.
They will remain in place for at least two weeks, with a review to come to see if it needs to be extended.
For those affected, Tier 4 will essentially be a return to the full lockdown which ended in England on December 2.
NEW YEAR, NEW TIER: Areas across England moving to tougher Tiers
To move into Tier 4:
- Leicester City
- Leicestershire (Oadby and Wigston, Harborough, Hinckley and Bosworth, Blaby, Charnwood, North West Leicestershire, Melton)
- Lincolnshire (City of Lincoln, Boston, South Kesteven, West Lindsey, North Kesteven, South Holland, East Lindsey)
- Northamptonshire (Corby, Daventry, East Northamptonshire, Kettering, Northampton, South Northamptonshire, Wellingborough)
- Derby and Derbyshire (Derby, Amber Valley, South Derbyshire, Bolsover, North East Derbyshire, Chesterfield, Erewash, Derbyshire Dales, High Peak)
- Nottingham and Nottinghamshire (Gedling, Ashfield, Mansfield, Rushcliffe, Bassetlaw, Newark and Sherwood, Nottinghamshire, Broxtowe)
- Birmingham and Black Country (Dudley, Birmingham, Sandwell, Walsall, Wolverhampton)
- Warwickshire (Rugby, Nuneaton and Bedworth, Warwick, North Warwickshire, Stratford-upon-Avon)
- Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent (East Staffordshire, Stafford, South Staffordshire, Cannock Chase, Lichfield, Staffordshire Moorlands, Newcastle under Lyme, Tamworth, Stoke-on-Trent)
- Lancashire (Burnley, Pendle, Blackburn with Darwen, Ribble Valley, Blackpool, Preston, Hyndburn, Chorley, Fylde, Lancaster, Rossendale, South Ribble, West Lancashire, Wyre)
- Cheshire and Warrington (Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester, Warrington)
- Cumbria (Eden, Carlisle, South Lakeland, Barrow-in-Furness, Copeland, Allerdale)
- Greater Manchester (Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, Wigan)
- Tees Valley (Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, Stockton-on-Tees )
- North East (County Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside, Sunderland)
- Gloucestershire (Gloucester, Forest of Dean, Cotswolds, Tewkesbury, Stroud, Cheltenham)
- Somerset Council (Mendip, Sedgemoor, Somerset West and Taunton, South Somerset)
- Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole
- Isle of Wight
- New Forest
The following local authority areas will move to Tier 3:
- Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin
- Worcestershire (Bromsgrove, Malvern Hills, Redditch, Worcester, Wychavon, Wyre Forest)
- Liverpool City Region (Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, Sefton, Wirral, St Helens)
- York & North Yorkshire (Scarborough, Hambleton, Richmondshire, Selby, Craven, Ryedale, Harrogate, City of York)
- Bath and North East Somerset
- Devon, Plymouth, Torbay (East Devon, Exeter, Mid Devon, North Devon, South Hams, Teignbridge, Torridge, West Devon, Plymouth, Torbay)
The Education Secretary has set out the plans for children returning to schools in a statement to the House of Commons this afternoon.
Primary and secondary schools in the worst-hit areas will stay shut for at least an extra two weeks.
Gavin Williamson confirmed that schools in the hardest-hit Covid areas will remain closed because of spiralling cases – except for vulnerable kids and children of key workers.
The full list of areas where schools will remain shut until at least January 18 has not yet been revealed – but will include Tier 4 hotspots with the worst infection rates.
Only key worker kids, vulnerable students and specific others will go back as planned.
This includes parts – but not all – of London, Kent, Hertfordshire and Essex and the plans will be reviewed in two weeks.
Expected return dates for schools
January 4: All primary schools will return as planned – except for Covid hotspot areas which will remain closed
January 11: Secondary school kids set to sit key exams this year
January 18: All secondary school kids – except for Covid hotspot areas which will be reviewed regularly
Primary schools in the Tier 4 hotspots will be allowed to take in the children of key workers still.
Elsewhere across England – in Tiers 1, 2 and 3 and some lesser-hit Tier 4 areas – primary schools will return on January 4 as planned.
And secondary school Years 11 and 13 – those facing critical exams – will return on January 11, before the rest go back on January 18.
The announcements come after the good news this morning that the Oxford vaccine – which the UK has 100 million doses of – has been approved for use.
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