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Covid-19: Millions more residents in England move to tier 2

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Millions more people in England are to move to tier two restrictions from Saturday, the government has announced.

Residents in areas of Yorkshire and the Humber, parts of the West and East Midlands, as well as Luton and Oxford City will come under stricter measures.

Under tier two, households are no longer be able to mix indoors in any setting - in homes or elsewhere.

It comes as a new study suggests 100,000 people are catching coronavirus in England every day.

The following areas will come under tier two - high alert - restrictions from 00:01 on Saturday:

  • Yorkshire and the Humber: East Riding of Yorkshire, Kingston-Upon-Hull, North East Lincolnshire and North Lincolnshire
  • West Midlands: Dudley, Staffordshire, Telford and the Wrekin;
  • East Midlands: Amber Valley, Bolsover, Derbyshire Dales, Derby City, South Derbyshire, the whole of High Peak; Charnwood;
  • Luton
  • Oxford City

The decision follows close discussions with local leaders - and will be reviewed every 14 days, the government said.

"We continue to see a worrying rise in cases right across the country, and it is clear decisive action is needed," said Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

"These restrictions are challenging for us all, but it is only by working together and following the rules that we will bring down the rates of infection. A failure to act now will only lead to longer disruption and greater economic damage."

media captionCovid tier lockdown: What is the tier lockdown system in England?

It comes as government data recorded a further 23,065 cases of coronavirus in the UK in the past 24 hours and another 280 deaths.

Karl Turner, Labour MP for Hull East, said the tier two restrictions were "not strong enough" to have a significant effect on the Covid reproduction (R) number in Hull and would be "disproportionately difficult for the hospitality sector".

"I am also deeply frustrated that despite higher levels of deprivation, Hull is to receive the same level of additional support as the East Riding. I made have made that clear to government ministers and will continue to fight for a fair deal."

Hull has experienced a sharp increase in positive cases and hospital admissions in recent weeks. Weekly case rates currently stand at 248 people per 100,000.

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In Oxford, there was dismay among some local politicians that only the city will be placed under tighter measures. The rest of the county of Oxfordshire will remain in tier one.

Anneliese Dodds, Labour MP for Oxford East, urged residents in the city to comply, but said she was "concerned that evidence of the need for steps to be taken across Oxfordshire has not been taken on board" by the Department of Health.

Susan Brown, leader of Oxford City Council, called the decision not to put the whole county into tier two was "shocking", adding "the spread and case numbers outside the city are also of grave concern... when so many people commute into our city".

In Oxford City, weekly case rates stand at 138 people per 100,000.

'Big impact'

Dudley Council leader Patrick Harley thanked the local population for their "huge efforts" to keep the area in tier one, but said cases had, nonetheless, continued to rise.

"Figures are doubling every two weeks and we must act now to safeguard ourselves and our families, and we all have a duty of care to our older and vulnerable residents," he said.

Dudley was the last of the seven metropolitan local authority areas in the West Midlands to go into tier two.

The new restrictions affect about 1.5 million people in Staffordshire, Dudley, the Black Country, and Telford and Wrekin, in Shropshire.

Key among the new measures is the ban on households mixing indoors - which comes on top of the rule of six and closing at 22:00, restrictions already imposed under tier one.

Trevor Emery, assistant manager at The Fountain Inn in Leek, Staffordshire said he thought new restrictions could have a "very big impact" on whether the pub can remain open.

Mr Emery, 55, said: "We would love to stay open, but we've got to make sure we're turning in a profit for the chain.

He explained it was a popular venue for families to meet: "We've just got to see how it goes," he told the BBC.

Bringing restrictions back to tier one would be "the best Christmas present we can give each other", Stafford Borough Council leader Patrick Farrington said, in a letter to local households.

"We are at a critical point in fighting this pandemic and I am confident with the support of the whole community we can get back to medium alert soon," he said.

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