More regions across the UK have moved into the top tier of the COVID-19 local alert system. Greater Manchester moved into the tier at midnight, while from 18:00 today, a 17-day “fire breaker” lockdown will commence in Wales.
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The decision to place Greater Manchester in tier 3 came after weeks of talks between local politicians and ministers surrounding the issue of financial support.
One of the parliamentary ministers told the BBC that the tighter restrictions are a "common purpose here to get the virus down" with a view to everyone enjoying Christmas.
Stephen Barclay, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, commented, "I think few people expect it to be exactly as it would normally," but, "the ability of families to spend Christmas together" was "something we all hope to be in a position to do".
At midnight on Saturday, South Yorkshire will also move into tier 3 restrictions, meaning the number of people living in the highest level of restrictions will be nearly seven million.
Coventry, Slough and Stoke will also move up, but into tier 2, on Saturday, due to increasing infections. Across the UK as a whole, 189 deaths and a further 21,242 confirmed cases were recorded on Thursday.
The 17-day lockdown in Wales means people have to stay at home. Hospitality venues like pubs, restaurants and hotels, as well as shops deemed non-essential, will close until 9 November, at the earliest.
First Minister Mark Drakeford also told the BBC that supermarkets should only open the parts of their business that sold essential items.
The UK government has announced a more generous wage subsidy scheme which is to be backdated to August. These will be offered to those areas which are under tighter restrictions.
Anneliese Dodds, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, told the BBC ministers need to be more succinct regarding the decisions they make about the allocation of financial support, and in which areas.
She told BBC Radio 4 that "initially it was suggested there was some kind of a negotiation going on between government and local areas about support for businesses."
"Now it looks like actually there's a formula that's being used by government but they haven't published it anywhere, they've not discussed it, it hasn't been voted on for government."
In addition to the areas going into new levels of alert, talks continue about introducing tier 3 restrictions in West Yorkshire, Nottingham and Warrington.