The whole of Oxfordshire will enter Tier 4 of the government’s coronavirus restrictions on Boxing Day, the 26th December, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has confirmed.
Oxfordshire will join a string of other regions in the South and South-East in having these restrictions imposed from the day after Christmas, adding to the around 18 million people already living in Tier 4 areas.
This will mean that people living in Oxfordshire will see non-essential shops close in their area, as well as being permitted to only see one member of one other household, and then only outdoors.
This news comes as cases across the country, but more specifically in Oxfordshire, have seen a rapid increase. Eight cases of the new COVID-19 variant, VUI-202012/01, have also been seen in Oxfordshire. While this is not necessarily present in more serious cases of the disease or have worse outcomes, it does spread 70% more easily, making controlling its spread a priority.
Hancock said in a press conference this afternoon: “We all know that 2020 has been a hard year and it’s ending in this festive period which is going to be very different.”
He further confirmed that the variant of the Coronavirus is spreading at a “dangerous” rate and that it was “absolutely vital” that we “act”.
What this new raft of restrictions might mean for students returning to the University of Oxford for Hilary Term is as yet unclear.
Full government guidelines for Tier 4 can be found here.