Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced changes to the tier system, which will see eight areas move into the highest alert level of restrictions.
From Saturday morning at 12.01am, hospitality venues in Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Peterborough, the whole of Hertfordshire, Surrey, except Waverley, Hastings and Rother, Portsmouth, Gosport and Havant, will be forced to close under tier 3 rules.
Businesses in Bristol and North Somerset will be permitted to reopen, as the areas move from tier 3 to tier 2 on December 19.
Herefordshire also moves from tier 2 to tier 1.
Tier 3 means pubs, restaurants, cafes and hotels will be forced to close, whilst all shops, hairdressers and gyms can stay open. There is no household mixing permitted indoors and the rule of six will apply outdoors.
The rest of England will remain in their current tiers.
On Wednesday, London, parts of Essex and Hertfordshire were moved up to tier 3 after a ‘surge in cases’ panicked government to react earlier than the planned review date of December 16.
Speaking this morning to the Commons, Hancock says that in the UK, and across the world, ‘coronavirus cases are rising once more’.
“No one wants tougher restrictions longer than necessary,” he says, adding that where they are necessary they will be put in place to help ease pressure on the NHS.
He says cases are up 46% in the past week in the south of England.
He said there are over 200 vaccination sites now open in all parts of the UK.
The jab “offers promise of a greater year ahead” but until it is fully rolled out, he says “we must keep doing what it takes to protect our NHS and protect those we love”.