Matt Hancock will announce changes to Covid-19 tiers in the House of Commons tomorrow.
The Health Secretary will reveal whether restrictions in local areas are being ramped up or eased for the final time in 2020.
MPs are returning to Westminster for one day tomorrow, in order to rapidly vote through Boris Johnson’s eleventh-hour Brexit deal.
The vote is expected to take place around 2.30pm, with announcements about tier changes expected at around 3pm.
The Prime Minister is expected to discuss new tier arrangements at a Covid-O meeting later today.
At the same meeting, it’s thought the PM will discuss plans to keep schools shut for an extra week, over fears the new strain of Covid-19 will spread through pupils.
According to TES, a new plan approved by ministers will see Year 11 and 13 exam students not return from January 4 as planned.
Only vulnerable students and children of key workers will return straight away.
Covid-19 testing in schools will commence the following week, starting on January 11.
And according to the report, all students would be back in school from the week of January 18.
The Department for Education did not deny the report, but said their position – that they want schools to return in January and that dates remained under review – had not changed.
Downing Street is not thought to have approved the plan yet.
They’ve come under mounting pressure from both unions and scientists to delay reopening in order to slow the spread of the new mutation.
But with just a week to go until schools are officially due to open, parents – many of whom will have to make childcare arrangements if children are kept home – are waiting anxiously for any sign of movement from the Government.
The government created the strict fourth tier in response to a new, highly contagious variant of coronavirus that is spreading in the South East of England.
17 million people were plunged into Tier Four when it was first created, then an additional six million people were added as new areas joined the “stay at home” tier on Boxing Day.
The top level of restrictions now affects 24 million people, representing 43% of the population.
Boris Johnson has committed to reviewing the tier system on a fortnightly basis, and the government will move areas depending on how they’re coping with the virus.
But with the situation changing so rapidly, the government may decide to move places from tier to tier before the official review date this week.
Areas including Oxfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk were plunged into Tier Four on Boxing Day as part of the government’s efforts to control the spread of the new, more easily spread strain of Covid-19.