ALL pubs in England must close tonight, the Government has announced – with only those in the Isles of Scilly allowed to remain open.
It comes as three-quarters of the country will be plunged into Tier 4 restrictions – which close all non-essential shops and ban household mixing – from midnight tonight.
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Millions more will join regions including London and the south-east under the new lockdown.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced today that all areas currently in Tier 2 will move to the third or fourth level of restrictions from tomorrow.
It comes amid concerns over a mutant strain of Covid which has taken hold across much of the country.
Mr Hancock told told MPs the weekly case rate in England rose to 402.6 per 100,000 people between December 18 and 24 – a 32 per cent increase on the previous week.
And 18 per cent more people are battling the illness in hospital week-on-week, with 14,915 patients on wards across the country.
Some 44 million people will now be in Tier 4 – or a whopping 78 per cent of the population of England.
Only pubs on the Isles of Scilly – which will move to Tier 2 – will be allowed to open amid the changes.
The news is another blow to the beleaguered industry.
Areas heading into Tiers 3 and 4 at midnight
Joining areas already in Tier 4 from tomorrow are:
- Leicester City
- Leicestershire (Oadby and Wigston, Harborough, Hinckley and Bosworth, Blaby, Charnwood, North West Leicestershire, Melton)
- Lincolnshire (City of Lincoln, Boston, South Kesteven, West Lindsey, North Kesteven, South Holland, East Lindsey)
- Northamptonshire (Corby, Daventry, East Northamptonshire, Kettering, Northampton, South Northamptonshire, Wellingborough)
- Derby and Derbyshire (Derby, Amber Valley, South Derbyshire, Bolsover, North East Derbyshire, Chesterfield, Erewash, Derbyshire Dales, High Peak)
- Nottingham and Nottinghamshire (Gedling, Ashfield, Mansfield, Rushcliffe, Bassetlaw, Newark and Sherwood, Nottinghamshire, Broxtowe)
- Birmingham and Black Country (Dudley, Birmingham, Sandwell, Walsall, Wolverhampton)
- Warwickshire (Rugby, Nuneaton and Bedworth, Warwick, North Warwickshire, Stratford-upon-Avon)
- Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent (East Staffordshire, Stafford, South Staffordshire, Cannock Chase, Lichfield, Staffordshire Moorlands, Newcastle under Lyme, Tamworth, Stoke-on-Trent)
- Lancashire (Burnley, Pendle, Blackburn with Darwen, Ribble Valley, Blackpool, Preston, Hyndburn, Chorley, Fylde, Lancaster, Rossendale, South Ribble, West Lancashire, Wyre)
- Cheshire and Warrington (Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester, Warrington)
- Cumbria (Eden, Carlisle, South Lakeland, Barrow-in-Furness, Copeland, Allerdale)
- Greater Manchester (Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, Wigan)
- Tees Valley (Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, Stockton-on-Tees )
- North East (County Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside, Sunderland)
- Gloucestershire (Gloucester, Forest of Dean, Cotswolds, Tewkesbury, Stroud, Cheltenham)
- Somerset Council (Mendip, Sedgemoor, Somerset West and Taunton, South Somerset)
- Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole
- Isle of Wight
- New Forest
The following areas will be in Tier 3 from tomorrow:
- Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin
- Worcestershire (Bromsgrove, Malvern Hills, Redditch, Worcester, Wychavon, Wyre Forest)
- Liverpool City Region (Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, Sefton, Wirral, St Helens)
- York & North Yorkshire (Scarborough, Hambleton, Richmondshire, Selby, Craven, Ryedale, Harrogate, City of York)
- Bath and North East Somerset
- Devon, Plymouth, Torbay (East Devon, Exeter, Mid Devon, North Devon, South Hams, Teignbridge, Torridge, West Devon, Plymouth, Torbay)
Announcing the changes on Wednesday afternoon, Mr Hancock said: "Even in most areas not moving into tier four, cases are rising too, and it is therefore necessary to apply tier three measures more broadly too."
He admitted the measures "place a significant burden on people, and especially on businesses affected", but added: "I am afraid it is absolutely necessary because of the number of cases that we’ve seen."
Yesterday, a record 53,135 cases were diagnosed as hospital admissions go well past the April peak.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said today that the between December 17 and 23, 800,900 people in England – 1.47 per cent of the population, or one in 70 – had Covid.
The percentage of people testing positive has continued to increase sharply in London, the east, and the south-east, while rates in the north-west, West Midlands and south-west are on the up.
Infections are no longer decreasing in Yorkshire and The Humber, the north-east and the East Midlands.
Essex is now the worst-hit place in England.
Brentwood has the highest rates in the country, with 1,258.1 cases per 100,000 people.
Nearby Epping Forest and Thurrock are in second and third place on the grim hitlist, with 1,256 and 1,181.6 cases respectively.
A 'major incident' has been declared at hospitals in the county as patients are treated in the back of ambulances and medics prepare to work in tents usually reserved for terror attacks.
All areas currently in Tier 4
A list of the areas in Tier 4 at present are:
- Surrey (excluding Waverley)
- The boroughs of Gosport, Havant, Portsmouth, Rother and Hastings
- All 32 London boroughs and the city of London.
- Bedford, Central Bedfordshire, Milton Keynes, Luton, Peterborough
- Essex (excluding Colchester, Uttlesford and Tendring).
A full list of the areas that joined Tier 4 on Boxing Day are:
- Those parts of Essex not yet in Tier 4
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