Extra areas of England could possibly be put below tier 4 restrictions from Boxing Day whereas a mass coronavirus testing programme was resulting from get below method to alleviate congestion on the border between France and the UK.
Experiences steered ministers would meet on Wednesday to determine whether or not extra of the nation could be put below the hardest restrictions amid fears over the unfold of a brand new mutant pressure of coronavirus.
It got here as France lifted its travel ban and allowed journeys from the UK to renew, however mentioned these looking for to journey should have a detrimental coronavirus take a look at consequence.
The Day by day Telegraph reported that native leaders and well being officers in Birmingham met on Tuesday night time to debate the potential of the Midlands metropolis being moved into tier 4, whereas areas in decrease tiers could possibly be moved as much as tier 3.
Genomic researchers have discovered the brand new variant, which is claimed to be 70% extra infectious than earlier strains, has already unfold across the UK, with instances recognized in Wales and Scotland.
Well being chiefs in Cumbria have mentioned the brand new variant is within the county and could possibly be behind a pointy enhance within the variety of new instances, whereas Lancashire’s director of public well being mentioned there was a “excessive chance” the brand new variant was within the county.
The Labour chief, Sir Keir Starmer, has written to the prime minister to say his occasion would again any authorities strikes to tighten restrictions if that’s what scientists beneficial.
Sinn Féin has mentioned an island-wide journey shutout ought to be launched in Eire to stem the unfold of the brand new variant there.
In the meantime, it’s anticipated NHS take a look at and hint workers and the navy might be deployed for the mass testing programme in Kent, the place greater than 2,800 HGVs had been caught on Tuesday afternoon.
France mentioned a detrimental take a look at consequence taken lower than 72 hours earlier than the journey could be required for these getting into the nation from the UK.
The transport secretary, Grant Shapps, mentioned fast lateral movement exams – which can provide ends in about half-hour – might be used within the testing programme, whereas the French authorities might be finishing up related testing on hauliers getting into the UK.
Full particulars of the testing programme haven’t but been launched, however Shapps warned it might take till Christmas for congestion to be relieved close to ports.
He mentioned: “Now we have managed to get all these exams to Kent, sufficient for all of the automobiles which is able to wish to return earlier than Christmas, in order that received’t be a problem. Clearly there’s a bodily concern of offering the take a look at, getting the outcomes. A detrimental take a look at permits you to depart.
“However all of that requires operationalising and that may’t occur right away, so it will take two or three days for issues to be cleared.”
He urged hauliers to not journey to Kent till additional discover.
The Highway Haulage Affiliation (RHA) warned UK provide chains could be affected regardless of the mass testing programme being launched. An RHA spokesman mentioned: “Even when the border is opened up, a brief delay within the course of goes to imply large delays within the provide chain.”
Elizabeth de Jong, coverage director on the enterprise group Logistics UK, mentioned it was “important” that testing procedures had been “stood up quick to make sure drivers will be processed and get residence for Christmas safely”. She added: “The backlog of visitors throughout the area will take time to clear so hauliers ought to look forward to additional information earlier than travelling to Kent.”
The protocol agreed with the French authorities might be reviewed on 31 December – however might run till 6 January, the Division for Transport (DfT) mentioned.
Those that could make journeys embrace French and EU residents, British or third-party nationals who usually dwell in France or the EU, in addition to another teams.
The transport secretary additionally introduced the momentary leisure of drivers’ hours for hauliers to assist them get by means of UK borders safely over the approaching weeks.
The Netherlands has lifted its journey restrictions on passengers from the UK, offered they return a detrimental take a look at consequence inside 72 hours of departure.
Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, mentioned perishable produce equivalent to seafood should be prioritised if hauliers begin transferring freight throughout the Channel once more on Wednesday.
She tweeted: “We nonetheless await element of the settlement, but when freight begins transferring tomorrow – as we should hope it should – the plan to prioritise perishable produce equivalent to seafood ought to be activated instantly.”