Stoke-on-Trent, Coventry and Slough will be moved up to tier two restrictions from this weekend, the health secretary has confirmed.
Shortly after midnight on Saturday, the three areas’ statuses will be changed to ‘high’, as cases continue to double every two weeks.
This means households will be banned from mixing in any indoor setting, including pubs, restaurants or private homes. Residents can meet friends from other households outside, as long as they adhere to the rule of six.
Matt Hancock told the Commons that Warrington may also have to move up to tier three – the strictest measures – amid increasing infection rates in the area. He said formal talks have begun with local leaders.
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The health secretary said it would be ‘catastrophic’ to let coronavirus ‘unleash its full force’, as he outlined the new measures which will affect thousands more Britons.
He told MPs on Thursday: ‘Unfortunately, we’re seeing rising rates of infection in Stoke-on-Trent, in Coventry and in Slough.
‘In all of these areas, there are over 100 positive cases per 100,000 people. Cases are doubling around every fortnight and we’re seeing a concerning increase of cases among the over-60s.
‘So we’ve agreed in partnership with local leaders to move these areas into the high local alert level, coming into force at one minute past midnight on Saturday.’
The announcement comes after Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled a new package of support for hard-hit businesses in tier two areas.
Grants of £2,100 will soon be made available to firms in ‘high’ risk areas, in a move that the chancellor hoped would bail out hospitality and leisure venues which have seen takings plummet due to the ban on households mixing.
MP for Slough, Tan Dhesi, told Metro.co.uk: ‘Faced with an alarming increase in the number of Coronavirus cases, we had little option but to collectively advocate for Tier 2.
‘Slough has already suffered immensely with a large number of deaths of our loved ones, so I urge everyone to follow government guidance to help reduce community transmission and protect lives and livelihoods.
‘Given the extra restrictions, I’ve also requested the Government Minister to provide more support for our local authority, individuals and businesses.’
The health secretary also told MPs that lateral flow tests were sent out to schools and universities yesterday, and local councils will start receiving them from Thursday – starting with Stoke-on-Trent.
Lateral flow tests do not need to be processed through a lab or machine and Hancock said the kit can give a user results in just minutes.
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