Cabinet minister warns of need for 'further measures' to tackle virus

Housing minister Robert Jenrick announced more funding for councils to house homeless people during

Housing minister Robert Jenrick announced more funding for councils to house homeless people during lockdown. Photo: PA - Credit: PA

A cabinet minister has said further measures may be needed to contain the spread of the new variant of Covid-19 - but that it is "extremely unlikely" Chrismas Day plans will change.

Communities secretary Robert Jenrick revealed the government will today be meeting to discuss the latest data on the virus's spread.

And he acknowledged that it may be possible more areas will be moved into higher tiers following the weekend's announcement of a new Tier 4.

The next review of tiers is currently scheduled for December 30, however, Mr Jenrick told Sky News that this date was not set in stone. It has been widely speculated that this review could happen as soon as today, with new restrictions set to start on Boxing Day.

Local government secretary Robert Jenrick. Photo: Archant Library.

Local government secretary Robert Jenrick. Photo: Archant Library. - Credit: Archant

He said: "We don't have a timetable today. The government's covid operations committee is meeting later today to review further evidence.


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"We keep this under review, we are constantly hearing from our scientific advisors about what we should do."

He added that "it may be necessary to take further action" to curb the rising numbers.

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Meanwhile, in a separate interview with BBC Breakfast he addressed fears that Christmas arrangements may need to be changed again.

He said: "Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, so I think it is extremely unlikely that anything will change.

"We made very clear what the position is now. If you're in Tier 4, you can only meet up, unfortunately, with your own household or support bubble.

"If you are out of Tier 4, then on Christmas Day itself you can come together with others, up to three households."

Asked if he could guarantee there would be no new restrictions for December 25, he added: "There is absolutely no plan to do so. So I think people should go about their Christmas as they were planning to do."

It comes as cases in Norfolk continue to increase, with the new variant thought to be responsible for more than a third of the county's cases. 

Dr Louise Smith, Norfolk's director of public health. Picture: Norfolk County Council

Dr Louise Smith, Norfolk's director of public health. Picture: Norfolk County Council - Credit: Archant

Meanwhile, Dr Louise Smith, Norfolk's director of public health, said it was "highly likely" the county would soon find itself in Tier 3 - with even Tier 4 not entirely outside of the realms of possibility.

She said: "Looking at the trends, the case rate is rising more rapidly and my expectation is that in the next week or so, the numbers will keep going up.

"When we came out of lockdown, they had levelled out, but over the past few days, we have seen a steep change.

"I think that is a significant concern and it suggests the current Tier 2 restrictions are not containing and controlling the virus."

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