Things will get worse before they get better
People in areas of Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Surrey, Essex and Cumbria will be subject to new restrictions from Saturday.
Millions of people in London, Essex, York and other areas face tougher Tier 2 Covid measures from Saturday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said.
Speaking in the Commons, Matt Hancock said Essex, Elmbridge, Barrow-in-Furness, North East Derbyshire, Erewash, Chesterfield and York would move to “high risk” coronavirus restrictions from 12.01am on Saturday.
Under this “high” alert level, there is a ban on households mixing indoors, including in pubs and restaurants.
It comes as a final decision has yet to be made on whether Greater Manchester faces “very high” Tier 3 measures.
More than half of England’s population will now be living under high or very high-alert restrictions.
The areas to go into high alert restrictions this weekend are:
- Elmbridge in Surrey
- Barrow in Furness, Cumbria
- North East Derbyshire
- Erewash, Derbyshire
Delivering a statement to the Commons, the health secretary said “things will get worse before they get better”.
“Now, I know that these measures are not easy but I also know that they are vital,” Mr Hancock told MPs.
“Responding to this unprecedented pandemic requires difficult choices, some of the most difficult choices any government has to make in peacetime.”
Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth has backed calls by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer for a temporary national “circuit-breaker” – a short limited lockdown – to stem the spread of the disease.
He told MPs in the Commons that a full national lockdown “stretching for weeks and weeks” would “be disastrous for society”.
“But we are urging him to adopt a short, time-limited two to three week circuit-break to take back control of the virus, to reboot and fix Test and Trace, to protect the NHS, to save lives,” he said.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s World at One, Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS providers, said he favoured this move to ensure the NHS is not overwhelmed by Covid-19 cases.
“What we need to do is err on the side of caution to ensure the NHS has the capacity that it’s got to treat every patient over winter,” he said.
Meanwhile, Labour mayor Sadiq Khan told London’s City Hall there was “simply no other option” to the new restrictions.
He said will continue to press the government for more financial support, but added that “we’ve got a difficult winter ahead”.
What are the rules for Tier 2 (high alert)?
The rules for Tier 1 also apply in Tier 2.
In addition, you are not allowed to meet socially with people you do not live with indoors – this includes private homes, as well as pubs or restaurants.
People in support bubbles can go on meeting as before and informal childcare may also be provided.
You can still meet friends and family outdoors, but only in a group of up to six people.
What are the rules in Tier 3 (very high alert)?
Areas with the most rapidly rising transmission rates are placed in Tier 3.
You are not allowed to meet socially with anybody who is not part of your household or your support bubble indoors or in certain outdoor locations.
You cannot meet in private gardens or pub gardens, but can meet in parks, beaches, countryside or forests, as long as you are not in a group of more than six.
Pubs and bars must close unless they are serving substantial meals – alcohol can only be served as part of a meal.
People are being advised not to travel into or out of Tier 3 areas, other than for work, education, youth services or because of caring responsibilities.
At present, only the Liverpool City Region is classed as very high risk. A final decision on whether to add Greater Manchester has not been made