SOLDIERS will be drafted in to tier three lockdown zones to enforce coronavirus rules as cases rise around the UK.
The British Army will support some of the country's worst-hit regions – and on Friday, five environmental health officers trained in 'outbreak management' from both the Army and Navy were deployed in Liverpool.
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The team will help track down clusters of infections, help control outbreaks, and enforce Covid rules against businesses breaking the law.
It's understood more officers will be moved in tier three areas – which include Greater Manchester and South Yorkshire – in the coming weeks.
The Army has been deployed throughout the pandemic, manning pop-up testing centres and building the Nightingale hospitals.
Last week, 100 RAF personnel deployed to Birmingham to deliver coronavirus testing kits to people in high-risk areas.
And Matt Hancock says the military will be involved in distributing any virus vaccine
During the peak of the military's response, 20,000 troops were at readiness, with more than 4,000 of them deployed at any one time.
News on further involvement for the armed forces comes after it was announced Warrington will go into tier three two days earlier than expected.
New restrictions will now be enforced from Tuesday rather than Thursday as 15 people died with coronavirus in the town – population 209,500 – in just three days.
The tightened restrictions – which were meant to come into force from Thursday – include the shuttering of pubs and betting shops.
Leisure centres, gyms, fitness centres, beauty parlours, hairdressers and trampoline parks will stay open.
It was today reported that servicemen and women will be deployed under themilitary aid to civil authorities mechanism (MACA), which allows the Government, along with local authorities, to formally request assistance from the armed forces.
The forces were carrying out 32 tasks under MACA on Friday, according to The Telegraph.
Lieutenant General Tyrone Urch, the UK's Standing Joint Commander, told the publication: "We are all extremely proud to be able to support this national effort, and remain ready to respond to all requests for further support throughout the winter period."
The average number of formal requests received for military assistance per year between 2016 and 2019 was 130.
But so far in 2020 the Ministry Of Defence has received 316 with 258 of those specifically relating to the coronavirus pandemic.
Nearly 40million people across the country will be living under some form of lockdown when all the measures are fully enforced next week.
Meanwhile, Professor Neil Ferguson – dubbed 'Professor Lockdown' for his bleak predictions, which sent the UK into a national shutdown in March – has warned Christmas Day will be a "killer".
He said: “It risks some transmission and there will be consequences. Some people will die because of getting infected on that day.
“But if it’s only one or two days the impact is likely to be limited. It’s really a political judgment about costs versus benefits.”
The warning from the epidemiologist, who quit as a government adviser after breaking quarantine to see his lover, came after No10 said it was an “ambition” for families to mark Christmas together.
But in more cheering news, it's been reported that NHS staff are set to get a coronavirus vaccine within weeks as the Government prepares a mass roll-out before Christmas.
An NHS Trust chief is said to have sent his staff an email which outlines how a national vaccination programme could start in “early December”.
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