Communities secretary, Robert Jenrick, confirmed the Government’s Covid-O operations committee would meet this morning (Wednesday 23 December), to discuss placing more areas of England under the toughest coronavirus measures
Any decisions are to be announced “as soon as we can”, the minister told BBC Breakfast.
However, he hastened to add that as it stands there is "absolutely no plan" to change restrictions before Christmas Day.
Several newspapers including the Times and the Daily Mail have reported the areas under consideration may be West Sussex and parts of East Sussex, presently in tier two, given their proximity to tier four areas.
This would mean the closure of pubs currently able to operate if they only serve a substantial meal with alcohol.
Other areas with rising infection rates are believed to be the subject of discussion, including parts of the North and Midlands such as Rugby, Burnley, Lincoln and Stoke-on-Trent.
There has been speculation tier changes could come into effect as early as Boxing Day, ahead of the next national tier review on 30 December.
Jernrick added: “What we want to do now is just make sure that the tiered system is right, that it’s sufficiently robust, that it can withstand and do the job which is to keep the virus under control, even in these new changed circumstances.”
The meeting comes after the UK has been the subject of international worry following the discovery of a highly infectious strain of coronavirus, prevalent in the south of England.
More than 30 countries moved to ban flights from the UK and France closed its border to the UK for 48 hours.
Jenrick described the new variant as a “significant gamechanger” and said cases of the strain had been found across the country.
Warnings of curbs
News of the meeting comes after the UK's chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance warned it was "likely" tier four measures would be required in further places.
Likely measures would "need to be increased in some places, in due course, not reduced," thanks to the new strain and "inevitable" rise in cases after Christmas, Vallance said at a press briefing on Monday (21 December).
Some 22,771 pubs were hit by tier three measures at the last national tier review, according to real estate adviser, Altus Group.
The Prime Minister later declared a fourth tier, with added travel restrictions and a 'stay at home' order - although tiers four and three are broadly the same for pubs.
A slim number of 964 pubs were in tier one while 13,796 had the option to trade should they offer a food-focused offer, the group's analysis showed.