The government has announced that more regions in the east and south-east of England will enter tier 3 of lockdown rules on Saturday.
Health secretary Matt Hancock told MPs Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Hertfordshire will all be subject to the strictest rules, as will be parts of Surrey, East Sussex, Cambridgeshire and Hampshire.
In a review of the current restrictions, Bristol and North Somerset will be moved to tier 2 from tier 3, and Herefordshire to tier 1 from tier 2.
Parts of the country already in tier 3 will remain there, sparking controversy among officials in Manchester and other areas that have been in this situation for weeks.
BREAKING: Greater Manchester to stay in Tier 3
After the toughest restrictions for months
Lower overall indicators than other Tier 2 regions in the UK
Next week England can mix up to 3 households, for 5 days
What a kick in the teeth for hospitality. No sense at all
— Sacha Lord (@Sacha_Lord) December 17, 2020
Under the new measures, 68% of the population in England, or 38mln people, will be in tier 3 areas.
Around a third of residents will be in tier 2 while only 2% will be in tier 1.
“No-one wants tougher restrictions any longer than necessary,” Hancock said, although he added that the country “must keep suppressing this virus”.
Other countries in Europe have enforced tough measures ahead of Christmas, with the Netherlands and Germany entering full lockdowns.