Millions wake up to tougher restrictions as UK Covid deaths pass 70,000 | Coronavirus

Millions more people will be waking to harsher coronavirus restrictions on Boxing Day when new tier changes come into force in England.

New lockdowns are set to be introduced in Scotland and Northern Ireland, while restrictions that were eased for Christmas Day in Wales will be reimposed on Saturday.

Those in the strict tier 4 in England will increase by 6 million to 24 million people, representing 43% of the population, in response to a more transmissible variant being discovered in the UK.

It comes after the government said a further 570 died within 28 days of testing positive for the virus as of Christmas Day, taking the UK’s total deaths within 28 days of a positive test to 70,195.

Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies for deaths where Covid-19 has been mentioned on the death certificate, together with additional data on deaths that have occurred in recent days, show there have now been 86,000 deaths involving Covid-19 in the UK.

There were also 32,725 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK, bringing to 244,146 the number of positive tests in the past seven days.

The new measures were being imposed against a backdrop of increasing infections, hospital admissions and a new more contagious variant in the UK which was announced last week.

Areas moving into tier 4 are Sussex, Oxfordshire, Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire, parts of Essex not yet in the highest tier, Waverley in Surrey and Hampshire, with the exception of the New Forest.

Tier-4 restrictions include a warning to stay at home, a limit on household mixing to two people outdoors and the forced closure of many shops, hairdressers and gyms.

The measures come on top of tier-3 restrictions such as the closure of pubs and restaurants, except for take-aways and deliveries.

Bristol, Gloucestershire, Somerset including the North Somerset council area, Swindon, the Isle of Wight, the New Forest and Northamptonshire, as well as Cheshire and Warrington, will all be escalated to tier 3.

Elsewhere, Cornwall and Herefordshire move from tier 1 to tier 2.

Mainland Scotland will enter level-4 restrictions from Saturday, with the Scottish government intending the increased measures to last for three weeks.

In Northern Ireland, a six-week lockdown has begun. The first week’s measures are the toughest yet, with a form of curfew in operation from 8pm, shops closed from that time and all indoor and outdoor gatherings prohibited until 6am.

Non-essential retail will close throughout the next six weeks, as will close-contact services, while hospitality outlets will be limited to takeaway services.