THE Government announced yesterday that Winchester and the majority of Hampshire will be moved into Tier 4 from Boxing Day.

The decision was made due to a new strain of coronavirus which was spreading more quickly in the new Tier 4 areas.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has previously said that the strain may be up to 70 per cent more transmissible than the old variant and could drive up the reproductive rate of the virus.

Following the announcement local MPs have aired their views on the county being the subject of tighter restrictions.

Winchester and Chandler's Ford MP Steve Brine said: "I can’t say I am that surprised and I doubt any of my constituents will be either. However, when vast parts of my constituency continue to have really low rates – and some areas in the north of the district and in Chandler’s Ford are so low the Covid dashboard can’t even show data for fear of revealing individual identities – I feel it’s pretty harsh to be honest.

“If this is about getting ahead of the curve, as the health secretary claimed today, then why not just lockdown the entire country now. That is, after all, what most people expect to happen before the leftovers from Christmas lunch are even polished off. It is imperative Parliament sits again as soon as possible and I have made my view on that very clear to the Chief Whip.”

And Meon Valley MP Flick Drummond said: "I support the extension of Tier 4 because all the data shows the virus is spreading incredibly fast and action needs to be taken.

"We have a vaccine and we need to do all we can to protect the NHS while the rollout continues. Vaccinating 66 million people is an enormous logistical task and it will take months before we are in a position to start to return to normal but we are lucky that Hampshire are leading the way on numbers of vaccinations.

"I completely understand how disruptive this is and how damaging it is to hospitality and retail in Meon Valley but the balance remains in favour of saving lives, especially when we now have a vaccine and very likely more vaccines to combat future viruses."