Covid: Millions told to stay at home on New Year's Eve 🔴 @BBC News live - BBC

Covid: Millions told to stay at home on New Year's Eve 🔴 @BBC News live - BBC

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Top stories this morning 0:00

People should avoid New Year's Eve celebrations because "Covid loves a crowd", officials warned as millions entered the toughest restrictions tier.

It is vital parties do not take place and that people stick to the rules, NHS England's Prof Stephen Powis said.

Some 20 million more people in England have been told to "stay at home" after tier four was expanded at midnight.

They join 24 million who were already living in England's top tier, which prohibits indoor household mixing.

Meanwhile, many parents in England are attempting to determine whether their children will return to school when the new term, due to begin for most pupils on Monday, gets under way.

Local authorities said they were still working through the details after Education Secretary Gavin Williamson announced in the Commons on Wednesday that around a million primary pupils in at-risk areas will not return to school next week.

The staggered reopening of secondary schools has also been delayed until 11 January for exam-year pupils and 18 January for other year groups.

Mr Williamson described the changes as an "immediate adjustment" to previous plans - vulnerable and key worker children are not affected.

It came as the UK recorded a further 50,023 new Covid cases on Wednesday, as well as 981 more deaths within 28 days of a positive test - more than double Tuesday's total.

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