Public health chiefs urge Tier 4 visitors to self-isolate - even on Christmas Day

21 December 2020, 19:17

A 'Travelling at Christmas' sign is removed from Euston station, as new laws ban travel from Tier 4 areas such as London.
A 'Travelling at Christmas' sign is removed from Euston station, as new laws ban travel from Tier 4 areas such as London. Picture: PA

By Joe Cook

Public health chiefs in Manchester and Birmingham have urged people who have travelled from Tier 4 areas or Wales to self-isolate for 10 days and not meet people on Christmas Day.

The warnings come amid fears that the new, faster spreading, variant of Covid-19 is moving across the country.

West Midlands Directors of Public Health, who are responsible for Birmingham and the surrounding area, said people who have “travelled to the region from any Tier 4 areas or Wales” should “assume they have the new variant”.

They also ask these people to “self-isolate for at least 10 days”, adding: “Other people who live in the house do not need to self-isolate unless they get symptoms but no visitors should be allowed in that house at all, even on Christmas Day.”

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Director of public health for Tameside, Greater Manchester, Dr Jeanelle de Gruchy issued similar guidance, describing the spread of the new Covid variant as “extremely worrying”.

"We are so concerned about the potential grave impact of this that we have taken the difficult decision to ask anyone who has travelled here for Christmas from any Tier 4 area or Wales to act as if they have this new variant, even if they have no symptoms, and self-isolate for at least 10 days.

"Other people in the house do not need to self isolate but no visitors should be allowed in that house at all, even on Christmas Day."

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The new guidance follows scenes of chaos at London transport hubs on Saturday, as people travelled from the capital across the country before Tier 4 controls came into force.

Aside from a few exemptions, it is currently illegal for people living in Tier 4 areas to leave, with a ‘Stay at Home’ message in place.

Read more: London's streets deserted as capital plunged into Tier 4 restrictions

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Asked about the advice from the local public health chiefs at a Downing Street press conference, the Government's chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said local health directors "need to make decisions that they need to make" to ensure their local population is looked after.

"The new variant is spread around the country," he said.

Read more: Wales' largest hospital ran out of critical care beds across weekend as Covid cases soar

"It's localised in some places but we know there are cases everywhere, so it's not as though we can stop this getting into other places, there's some there already.

"The message has been very clear and, I think I want to reinforce it, is stay local... people shouldn't be travelling around the country at the moment."

Read more: Tier 4: Extra police in London to crack down on non-essential travel

Sir Patrick also suggested Tier 4 measures will be implemented across the country, adding: "I think it is likely that this will grow in numbers of the variant across the country and I think it's likely, therefore, that measures will need to be increased in some places, in due course, not reduced.

"I think it is the case that this will spread more."