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Oxfordshire to move to Tier 4 from Boxing Day

23/12/2020

This article is from 23 December 2020 - the situation may change with time.

The Government has confirmed that Oxfordshire will be placed into Tier 4 from Saturday 26 December 2020.

Tier 4 is the highest alert level in the national four-tier system. It means that Oxfordshire residents must stay at home, except for a limited number of purposes.

These include essential work that cannot be done from home, buying food, taking exercise, or getting medical treatment.

In Tier 4, you cannot meet other people socially indoors, unless you live with them or are part of a support bubble.

The latest data shows that the virus is spreading much faster than expected given the existing restrictions already in place. In the past seven days (up to 23 December 2020), cases across the County have increased by 86 percent to 1,636, with rises seen across all districts.

Among the over 60s, cases have more than doubled in the space of a week. Oxfordshire's weekly rate currently stands at 236.5 per 100,000, which compares with 126.9 for the week ending 11 December 2020. Hospital admissions are rising rapidly as a result.

The rapid spread is being attributed to a new variant of COVID-19, which is passed on far more easily. Although there is currently no evidence that this variant causes a more severe illness nor that the vaccine will be any less effective, it is 70 percent more transmissible. This new variant is increasingly becoming the dominant strain across the country.

Ansaf Azhar, Oxfordshire County Council's Director for Public Health, said: "We are in a very serious situation, which means that people are once again being told to stay at home. The new variant of COVID-19 spreads extremely quickly and these rules are being applied for our own safety and protection.

"Tier 4 is a stark warning that we need to be extra vigilant. Unless we all take personal responsibility as individuals and families throughout the coming weeks, we risk creating a situation in the early weeks of 2021 that will see further steep rises in the number of cases at exactly the time of year when viruses thrive. This means putting even more pressure on our NHS at its busiest time of year.

"The COVID vaccine has started to be rolled out to the over 80s and health and care staff across Oxfordshire. However, it will be some way into 2021 before this begins to provide protection to larger numbers of the population and make a material difference to the overall situation.

"I would therefore urge everyone to adhere to the new Tier 4 rules and to take every precaution. We need to protect ourselves, our communities and the NHS as we enter 2021."

What are the Tier 4 rules?

Stay at home, except for permitted reasons. This includes shopping for food and other essentials, exercise, education, childcare, collecting prescriptions, medical appointments, essential work, and to attend a place of worship.

Everyone who can work from home should do so.

You cannot meet other people indoors or in a private garden, unless you live with them or they are part of your support bubble.

You can exercise or meet in a public outdoor place with people you live with or your support bubble (or as part of a childcare bubble), or with one other person at a safe social distance.

You must not travel to other areas, other than for legally permitted reasons, to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

Shops selling non-essential goods and market stalls not selling food must close.

Cafes, restaurants, bars and pubs must close but they can serve takeaways, click and collect and delivery orders.

Personal care, hair and beauty salons must close, as should tattoo, massage and spa venues.

Entertainment venues, indoor attractions and leisure facilities must close.

Clinically extremely vulnerable people are advised to stay at home as much as possible, except to go outdoors for exercise or to attend health appointments. If they cannot work from home, they are advised not to go to work and claim any support where eligible. 

Further information on Tier 4 is available on the Government website.