The whole county will stay in the highest of the three tiers, meaning restaurants, cafes and pubs must remain closed and different households are banned from mixing indoors or in private gardens, he told fellow MPs in the House of Commons today.
The restrictions will not apply for five days over Christmas, between December 23 and December 27, when up to three households will be allowed to form a Christmas bubble and meet.
Mr Hancock said that just three areas were being moved to a lower tier – Bristol and North Somerset, which are moving from Tier 3 to Tier 2; and Herefordshire, which is moving from Tier 2 to Tier 1.
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But he said rising case rates meant Tier 3 measures were being applied across a much wider area of the east and south east of England, with the changes taking effect from this Saturday, December 19.
Announcing those changes, which mean that more than two thirds of the population nationally now fall under Tier 3 measures, Mr Hancock told the Commons: “I regret having to take the action that we have to take.
“I deem it necessary and there is a strong view right across Government that these actions are necessary.
“But I also plead that personal responsibility is absolutely essential to how we as a society should respond to this pandemic.”
He added: “It’s so vital that everyone sticks at it and does the right thing, especially over this Christmas period.”