Christmas shoppers told to avoid London when capital moves into Tier 3

Christmas shoppers should avoid travelling into London when the capital moves into the highest coronavirus restrictions this week, the Health Secretary has advised.

Matt Hancock said it is recommended that people minimise unnecessary travel into and within a Tier 3 area to stop the spread of Covid-19.

London and parts of Essex and Hertfordshire will face Tier 3 restrictions from Wednesday following "very sharp, exponential rises" in cases.

Mr Hancock, giving a statement to MPs on the changes, was asked whether it would be against the rules for people to come into the capital to do Christmas shopping.

Jeremy Hunt, Conservative chairman of the Commons Health and Social Care Select Committee, said: "From Wednesday, if you live outside London will it be against the regulations to come into Oxford Street to do your Christmas shopping?

"If you live inside London, will it be against the regulations to do your Christmas shopping and is the only way to do your Christmas shopping legally now to go online?"

Mr Hancock replied: "The question he asks about Christmas shopping is important.

"It is recommended that people should minimise travel unless it is necessary in a Tier 3 area and should minimise travel where it is necessary to a Tier 3 area.

"And so we have taken this action to try to protect people and to try to slow the spread of this virus and that is absolutely the right thing to do."

Under Tier 3 restrictions, non-essential shops will remain open – though the guidance on travel could deprive many of the capital's retailers of much-needed custom ahead of Christmas.