Millions more in northern England face stricter coronavirus rules next week, the government said yesterday, as new statistics showed a sustained surge in cases across the nation.
From Monday, nearly 2.4mn residents in five districts of West Yorkshire, including in the city of Leeds, will be barred from socialising with other households indoors.
The public has also been told to avoid unnecessary travel.
The department of health said the measures were needed as infection rates in West Yorkshire were “among the highest in the country” and rising rapidly.
In its weekly study of Covid-19 prevalence, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the number of people with the virus had increased to around one in 100 nationwide. “There has been growth in all age groups over the past two weeks; older teenagers and young adults continue to have the highest current rates while rates appear to be steeply increasing among secondary school children,” it said.
West Yorkshire’s imminent restrictions are the latest step in the government’s localised response to the surging transmission, which has come under increasing scrutiny in recent weeks.
More than 11mn people — about a fifth of England’s population — will be under the tightest measures from next week.
Most of the areas in the “very high” category of the government’s three-tier Covid alert system are in northern and central parts of the country.
Nottingham became the latest city to enter the highest tier yesterday.
Britain has already been the worst-hit in Europe by the pandemic, as more than 45,000 people have died within 28 days after testing positive.
Case rates are spiralling again after a lull, tracking the situation elsewhere on the continent.
England is seeing nearly 52,000 new cases daily, a 47% weekly rise, according to the ONS, which conducts its analysis of households with the help of several universities and health bodies, and excludes people in hospitals and care homes.
Britain’s European neighbours and the devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have reimposed partial lockdowns to try to cut infection rates.
But Prime Minister Boris Johnson has resisted his top scientists’ advice to follow suit in England, where the UK government sets health policy.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said yesterday the government would continue its “targeted and focused” strategy of local restrictions in virus hotspots.
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