Latest on increased lockdowns as millions face tougher restrictions in England

Millions of people will soon be facing Tier 3 COVID-19 restrictions, when large swathes of England are put on a ‘very high alert’ level.

Meanwhile, Oxford City Council has said the city will be moving to Tier 2 from 0001 on Saturday.

The news broke as Teesside Tory MP Jacob Young said he thought the Tees Valley will be placed in the toughest Tier 3 restrictions “within the next week or so”.

The Redcar MP said: “I think it’s quite likely. Last week we were taking part in Tier 3 talks, it looked like cases were levelling off and those talks were paused.
“Those talks will be restarted in the very near future. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Tier 3 restrictions in place within the next week or so.

“If they think the virus is getting out of control in an area, they want to put a lid on it quite quickly.”

Meanwhile talks have also started over making Birmingham West Midlands, Leeds and West Yorkshire Tier 3.

The West Midlands – and area with than 1.5 million residents – could move to tough new Tier 3 restrictions as soon as the end of next week, unless infection rates drop significantly.

The region’s Conservative mayor Andy Street and the leaders of the seven metropolitan councils had been discussing the prospect of tougher “Very High” measures being imposed, ahead of a gold command meeting with Health Secretary Matt Hancock on Wednesday.

Hospitals in Leeds were reported to be 98 per cent full.

And Oxford City Council said the city will be moving to Tier 2 from 0001 on Saturday.

A notice on the council’s website said: “Over the past three weeks, we have not only seen a continued rise in cases in the city, but increasing evidence of the spread of the virus beyond people in their teens and twenties to older, and potentially more vulnerable, age groups.

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“It is evident that the virus is no longer confined to younger people but is now affecting a much wider age range. Hospital admissions have begun to increase as a result.”

Yesterday, it was announced that entire county of Nottinghamshire will be become Tier 3. More than eight million people will be living under the toughest coronavirus measures when the restrictions across Nottinghamshire’s eight districts – Ashfield, Bassetlaw, Broxtowe, Gedling, Mansfield, Newark and Sherwood, Nottingham and Rushcliffe – come into force at 0001 on Friday.

Health chiefs have warned that Plymouth faces being made Tier 2, whlst lcoal Labour MP Luke Pollard has called for a localised ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown.

Elsewhere in the South West, Bristol has been moved to ‘Tier One Plus’ status and will have Covid Marshalls patrolling the streets

Which areas are in Tier 3 at the moment?

Nottinghamshire will join Warrington in the highest alert level after the Cheshire town moved into Tier 3 on Tuesday.

Greater Manchester was forced into top tier restrictions last Friday despite the best efforts of mayor Andy Burnham for extra support for the region.

Large areas of South Yorkshire including Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield were also placed into Tier 3 on Saturday, after the region secured a £41 million funding package.

Liverpool City Region has been in Tier 3 since October 14, and was joined by Lancashire two days later.

What does Tier 3 mean exactly?

Expect extreme curbs to your social life – social mixing is banned both indoors and in private gardens, while pubs and bars must close unless they can operate as a restaurant.

The rule of six applies in some outdoor settings such as parks, public gardens and sports courts.

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Deliberately flouting the rules can net you a fine of up to £6,400, while those who organise gatherings of more than 30 people can be fined up to £10,000.

Local leaders help the Government to determine whether other venues should be closed, such as gyms or casinos.

Shops and places of worship can remain open, as can schools and colleges, while universities must reflect wider restrictions with the option to move to greater online provision.

Up to 15 guests are allowed at weddings and 30 people can attend funerals, with 15 allowed at wakes, but wedding receptions are not permitted.

People living in Tier 3 areas are advised against overnight stays in other parts of the UK and should avoid travel where possible in and out of the area, unless it is for work, education or caring responsibilities.

Number 10 confirmed that, under Tier 2 and 3 rules on household mixing, people can still meet up for work meetings indoors under certain circumstances.

Under additional measures agreed for Nottinghamshire, people have been informed they cannot purchase alcohol in shops after 9pm, but can buy it in pubs with a substantial meal until 10pm.

The local restrictions also say all hospitality venues can only remain open if they offer substantial meals, or move to a takeaway or delivery service.

What happens in Tier 2?

London, Derbyshire, West Yorkshire, Durham, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, Tees Valley, West Midlands, and Leicestershire are among the regions currently in Tier 2.

Coventry, Slough and Stoke-on-Trent also moved into the “high” alert level from Saturday – and now Oxford is set to follow.

Areas categorised as high risk have restrictions on household mixing indoors, while the rule of six continues to apply outdoors.

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People must not meet socially with friends and family indoors in any setting unless they live with them or have formed a support bubble with them.

Shops, gyms, all education settings, and places of worship can remain open, with overnight stays permitted.

Up to 15 guests are allowed at weddings and up to 30 people allowed at funerals, with 15 allowed at receptions and wakes.

Travel advice for those living in Tier 2 areas is to reduce the number of journeys they take where possible and avoid travel into very high Tier 3 areas.

What restrictions are placed on areas in Tier 1?

Areas classed as medium risk, those in Tier 1, are subject to the same national measures which were commonplace across England earlier this year.

These include the 10pm curfew for pubs and restaurants and a ban on most gatherings of more than six people.

Like Tier 2, up to 15 guests will be allowed at weddings and up to 30 people allowed at funerals, with 15 allowed at receptions and wakes.

Shops, gyms, all education settings, and places of worship will remain open, with overnight stays permitted and no travel restrictions within the area, although people are advised to avoid travel into Tier 3 areas where possible.