Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol in ‘very high’ tier 3, as new England rules announced

Ashley Cowburn and Andrew Woodcock
 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Greater Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol will fall under “very high” Tier 3 restrictions when England’s national lockdown ends in six days’ time, the government has announced.

It follows Boris Johnson’s announcement earlier this week that while nationwide restrictions will expire on 2 December, a tougher version of the regional tiered system will be re-introduced.

Other areas that will be placed under the highest levels of coronavirus restrictions are vast areas of the north-east, including Middlesbrough, Darlington, Newcastle upon Tyne and County Durham.

In the north-west, the government said Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Blackpool and Blackburn with Darwen will be in Tier 3 alongside Slough and Kent in the south-east and Bristol and North Somerset in the south-west.

Under the most severe measures – Tier 3 – entertainment and hospitality venues, including pubs and restaurants, will be forced to remain closed with the exception of takeaways and drive-through or delivery.

Household mixing is also banned and a maximum of six people are allowed to mix in outdoor public spaces, such as parks and sports courts.

People are also urged to reduce the number of journeys they make and avoid travelling outside the area they live in, except for work, education and medical needs.

However, non-essential shops will be able to re-open in the highest level of restrictions when the national lockdown ends next week and wedding ceremonies with a maximum of 15 guests are permitted to resume.

Unveiling which areas are placed in which tiers on Thursday, the health secretary Matt Hancock told the Commons “these will not be easy decision, but they have made according to the best clinical advice”.

The health secretary also said mass testing will gave areas under the toughest tier 3 restrictions an “exit strategy” to eased controls with all tier allocations being reviewed on 16 December – just several days before restrictions are loosened for a short period over the Christmas holidays.

He also paid tribute to the people of Liverpool and mayor Joe Anderson for their participation in mass “lateral flow” tests which have helped drive case rates down by 69 per cent over six weeks.

“Regardless of your tier, we must all think of our own responsibilities to keep the virus under control,” said Mr Hancock. “We should see these restrictions, not as a boundary to push, but as a limit on what the public health advice says we can safely do in any area.

“But frankly, the less any one person passes on the disease, the faster we can get this disease under control together, and that is on all of us. We must all play our part, while we work so hard to deliver the new technologies that will help us get out of this.”

Mr Hancock said that the community testing programme trialled in Liverpool was being expanded to all local authorities in tier 3. “It offers help to get out of the toughest restrictions as fast as possible,” he said.

“We’ll work with local authorities on a plan to get tests where they’re needed most and how we can get as many people as possible to come forward and get certainty about their condition.

“The more people who get tested, the quicker a local area can move down through the tiers and get live closer to normal.”

Mr Hancock added: “Viruses can take a short time to spread, but a long time to vanquish. And sadly there is no quick fix. They call upon our determination to make sacrifices that will bring it to heel, our ingenuity to make scientific advances that will get us through.

“Hope is on the horizon, but we still have further to go. So we must all dig deep. “The end is in sight. We mustn’t give up now. We must follow these new rules, and make sure that our actions today will save lives in future, and help get our country through this.”

It comes after the latest figures showed 696 people died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid 19 – the highest daily figure reported since 5 May. The government data added that as of 9am on Wednesday, there had been a further 18,213 lab-confirmed cases of the virus in the UK.

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