From Saturday, around 38 million people will be living under the most stringent restrictions of tier 3.
This comes after a significant rise in cases. London is currently a hotspot for new cases, with 319.3 cases per 100,000 people in the week to 13th December.
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Outside of England, other counties have seen stricter rules introduced. Wales will be entering into lockdown from 28th December, and Northern Ireland’s leaders have ordered a six-week lockdown to commence on Boxing Day. Scotland’s leaders have also said they will not rule out a potential lockdown after the festive season.
Schools Minister Nick Gibb said the tier system in England was effective but that the idea of another lockdown was not off the table.
Figures show that case numbers have gone up in every part of the UK except for the Humber and Yorkshire regions.
In England, the counties of Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, and Hertfordshire will move to tier 3, as well as some parts of Surrey, East Sussex, Cambridgeshire and Hampshire. The move will be in effect from 00:01 on Saturday.
The government has announced that, in January, secondary schools will return in a staggered system to allow them to set up coronavirus testing facilities. This was met with an angry reaction from school leaders, who say this decision was made too late, and that there is not enough time to make the necessary preparations.
Gibb responded in defence of the plan, saying that a “national effort” was needed and that the government is prepared to provide the necessary support.
Doctor’s concerns over the rise in cases over the Christmas period continue to grow as they fear they will be overwhelming.
A consultant respiratory physician in Londonderry, Dr Martin Kelly, told the BBC, "Right in the mouth of Christmas we're seeing a significant further surge in numbers which is already putting the service under significant pressure."
Dr Ganesh Suntharalingam, the outgoing chair of the Intensive Care Society, has said that, similar to Wales, hospitals were already finding it hard to cope with the number of Covid patients and that they were already at capacity or slightly over. He said the relaxation of the rules over Christmas would lead to a third spike in cases which is "a serious concern".