The Government is set to hold another press conference today as worries grow over the need to extend Tier 4 measures across the country, with pressure also growing to bring in a third national lockdown.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock is due to hold the press conference this afternoon (December 23) in Downing Street.
Mr Hancock is expected to update the country on efforts to contain Covid as a new strain rampages through the country.
It comes as scientists demand urgent clamp-downs to contain it, including extending Tier 4 lockdown rules and the possibility of a third national lockdown.
It is expected at Mr Hancock will address the nation at 3pm.
Plans have been rumoured to be in the work to plunge large parts of England into Tier 4 from as early as Boxing Day.
The Government’s Covid operations committee has met this morning to consider whether to plunge more areas into lockdown.
Currently around 17million people in London and the South East are in Tier 4, which orders residents to stay at home apart from a limited number of exemptions – such as school, work, essential shopping and exercise.
Yesterday officials discussed moving more areas such as Birmingham into Tier 4 before Christmas.
Other areas – even the whole of England – could join Tier 4 on Boxing Day, which would effectively return the nation to lockdown.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said Christmas Day was under threat, telling Sky News he “won’t hesitate” to change the rules once again.
“We’re asking people outside Tier 4 areas to exercise great care – only to come together with a small number of people and only for Christmas Day,” he said.
“If we need to change that in light of the new variant, then we won’t hesitate to do so.”
But he then u-turned on his own claim, telling the BBC “we’re not going to change people’s plans” just hours before Christmas Day itself.
This is a live blog.
For the latest updates, scroll down.