Millions of people in the east and southeast of England will face the toughest coronavirus restrictions from Saturday following a review of the three-tier system in place to curb Covid-19 spread, Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced.
The highest Tier Three restrictions will be extended to areas such as Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Hertfordshire, as well as parts of Surrey, East Sussex, Cambridgeshire and Hampshire, Xinhua news agency quoted Hancock as saying in his announcement in the House of Commons on Thursday.
The areas that are already in Tier Three will continue as it is.
The new measures will come into effect at 12.01 a.m. on Saturday.
“No one wants tougher restrictions any longer than necessary… These are always the most difficult months for people’s health,” Hancock told MPs in lower house of Parliament.
“We must keep suppressing this virus. We’ve come so far, we mustn’t blow it now,” he said.
The Health Secretary noted that new coronavirus cases increased by 46 per cent in the last one week in the southeast of England and up by two-thirds in the east of England.
Meanwhile, Bristol and North Somerset will move from Tier Three to Tier Two, and Herefordshire will move from Tier Two into Tier One from Saturday.
On Monday, London and parts of Essex and Hertfordshire were moved into Tier Three, with the change taking effect on Wednesday.
Around 68 per cent of England’s population, about 38 million people, will be under Tier Three from the weekend.
Under Tier Three, bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants will remain closed, except for takeaway, delivery and click and collect services.
According to the governmental guidance, Tier Three also means that people must not socialise in a group of more than six in some outdoor public spaces, including parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, a public garden, grounds of a heritage site or castle, or a sports facility — known as the “rule of six”.
On Thursday, another 25,161 people tested positive the virus in the UK, which increased the country’s overall infection tally to 1,954,268.
Covid-19 deaths rose by 612 to 66,150.