Vast swathes of England have had their coronavirus tier-status moved up a level as tighter lockdown restrictions loom for millions.
London will move into the second tier of measures – categorised as ‘high’ - with a ban on households mixing indoors, including in pubs and restaurants, being introduced from Saturday, as well as other tighter measures.
The capital has moved from Tier 1 to Tier 2 along with Essex, Elmbridge, Barrow-in-Furness, York, North East Derbyshire, Erewash and Chesterfield.
But a bitter political row has so far prevented Greater Manchester being moved into Tier 3, with Matt Hancock telling MPs he wanted to see “rapid progress” on the issue.
The Health Secretary’s announcement means that more than half of England’s population will be under Tier 2 ‘high’ alert or Tier 3 ‘very high’ restrictions.
Hancock told MPs: “Let us be under no illusions about the danger posed by this virus.
“Coronavirus is deadly and it is now spreading exponentially in the UK.”
The new tiered system came into effect on Wednesday and the decision to re-categorise areas so quickly is an indication of growing concerns about the speed at which the virus is again spreading.
Liverpool City Region, comprising 1.6 million people, remains the only area currently in Tier 3.
The map below shows how far the restrictions stretch:
For the full list of Tier and Tier 3 areas, please see the bottom of this article, or go to the gov.uk site for the latest information.
Government accused of contempt
Manchester leaders have accused the government of treating the North with “contempt” as a bitter row erupted.
Mayor Andy Burnham said the North was “fed up of being pushed around”, claiming the region was being treated “as the canaries in the coalmine” for an experimental regional lockdown strategy.
But the Government’s own top scientific advisors have told him such a strategy has no guarantee of success, claimed Mr Burnham, and will result in job losses and hardship.
A key sticking point is the extra funding that would be made available to Greater Manchester if harsher lockdown measures are imposed.
A clearly angry Mr Burnham said measures proposed by Whitehall go “way beyond” the closure of pubs.
He said: “It is wrong to place some of the poorest parts of England in a punishing lockdown without proper support for the people and businesses affected.
“Last night the deputy chief medical officer told the leaders that to bring the infection rates down any regional lockdown would require widespread closures way beyond pubs to stand any real chance of working.”
He suggested a national “circuit-break” or limited national lockdown, is preferable to a regional lockdown for the North.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan told City Hall the move to Tier 2 is based on “expert public health and scientific advice about what is necessary to save lives in the capital” but stressed that he was pushing for extra support from the government.
“Nobody wants to see more restrictions – but this is deemed to be necessary in order to protect Londoners’ lives by myself, London council leaders and by ministers,” he said.
The ban on households mixing indoors could prove devastating for the capital’s 3,640 pubs and 7,556 restaurants, which will see business suffer but will not be eligible for government support available to premises which have been ordered to close.
Lawrence Santi, CEO of Marylebone Leisure Group, runs a family of award-winning cocktail bars and restaurants in and around London.
He told Yahoo News UK: “These new measures, on top of the existing misguided restrictions, will have zero effect on the spread of the coronavirus.
“We need only look at what has happened elsewhere to work that out. In fact the only effect these restrictions will have is mass unemployment and continued systematic desolation of the hospitality industry.”
Tory MP Nickie Aiken, who represents the Cities of London and Westminster, said: “Whilst I appreciate the public health crisis we find ourselves in, I remain deeply concerned about the impact further lockdown will have on the capital’s hospitality, leisure and retail businesses.”
As the latest restrictions were announced, the troubled NHS Test and Trace system recorded its worst ever week for contact tracing.
Data shows 62.6% of close contacts of people who tested positive for COVID-19 in England were reached through the system in the week ending 7 October.
This is the lowest weekly percentage since Test and Trace began, and is down from 69.5% the previous week.
The full list of places under Tier 2 restrictions are:
Cheshire West and Chester
High Peak ‒ the wards of:
Blackburn with Darwen
Tyne and Wear
Redcar and Cleveland
Oadby and Wigston
Newark & Sherwood
The following places will be under Tier 2 from Saturday onwards:
Derbyshire Chesterfield, Erewash, North East Derbyshire
Essex Basildon, Braintree, Brentwood, Castle Point, Chelmsford, Colchester, Epping Forest, Harlow, Maldon, Rochford, Tendring, Uttlesford
London all 32 boroughs plus the City of London
The following is under Tier 3 restrictions:
Liverpool City region
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