Health chiefs have escalated three locations to ‘areas of national intervention’ as worrying rises in new coronavirus cases show no sign of easing.
While eight other areas have been added to the national watchlist as ‘areas of concern’ or ‘areas of enhanced support’.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DoH) said tonight that the UK’s second largest city, Birmingham, has now been escalated to an area of national intervention, along with the neighbouring town of Solihull and the West Midland borough of Sandwell.
From Tuesday, residents in these areas must not socialise with people outside of their own households, unless they’re in their support bubble, the Government says.
However, this does not apply to places of work, schools or childcare.
While the new areas of concern are Merseyside, Sheffield, Hartlepool and Hertsmere.
And the new areas of enhanced support are South Tyneside, Sunderland, Gateshead and Newcastle upon Tyne.
The changes in Birmingham, Solihull and Sandwell are in addition to the nationwide, six person limit on social gatherings that will come into place on Monday, the DoH said.
This rule is in place across the country and will sit alongside additional restrictions in some local areas, such as banning mixing between different households.
Health secretary Matt Hancock said: “The reinforcement of the nationwide rule of six for social gatherings sends a clear signal to us all – the whole country must continue to stay vigilant and practice social distancing to beat this virus.
“After seeing cases in the West Midlands continue to rise, the decision has been taken in collaboration with local leaders to ban households mixing in Birmingham, Sandwell and Solihull.
“We never take these decisions lightly but social gatherings can spread the virus quickly, and we need residents to abide by the new rules to break the chains of transmission.
“Where targeted action has been taken, we are seeing signs of progress, and today’s easements in Leicester are proof that the measures we are putting in place in collaboration with local councils have a positive effect.
“We will not hesitate to take further action if needed, and my appeal to you all is to get a test if you are symptomatic, stay at home if you are required to self-isolate, and to constantly think: hands, face, space. Only then can we avoid further restrictions, and return to a sense of normality.”
Elsewhere in the West Midlands, Stoke-on-Trent remains on the watchlist as an area of concern.
In the East Midlands and East of England, Corby and Peterborough remain as areas of concern.
Northampton has been de-escalated from an area of enhanced support to an area of concern.
Kettering and Oadby and Wigston have been removed from the watchlist.
In Lancashire, Merseyside and Yorkshire & Humberside, Leeds has been escalated to an area of enhanced support.
Designated areas in Bradford, Kirklees, Calderdale, Blackburn with Darwen, Pendle and Greater Manchester where restrictions are already in place, remain as areas of national intervention.
Rossendale, Hyndburn and Burnley remain as areas of enhanced support.
In West Yorkshire, the ban on indoor household gatherings will continue in urban areas of Bradford where the ban is in place.
In Kirklees, the ban on indoor household mixing will continue in Dewsbury and Batley.
The ban on indoor household mixing will also continue in parts of Calderdale.
In Greater Manchester – not including Bolton – a ban on households mixing indoors will continue in City of Manchester, Salford, Rochdale, Trafford, Oldham, Bury, Bolton and Tameside.
In Oldham, in addition to a household mixing ban indoors, residents will continue to be advised to avoid mixing with anyone from another household anywhere.
Stockport will remain an area of enhanced support.
In Bolton, the regulations outlining restrictions announced in the large town earlier this week came into effect yesterday evening.
In Bolton, casinos, skating rinks, bowling alleys, exhibition halls, conference centres and indoor play areas – including soft play areas – will remain closed.
Socially distanced indoor performances will remain closed, and restrictions on certain close contact services will remain.
All hospitality for food and drink is restricted to takeaway only
There is a late-night restriction of operating hours in place, meaning venues will be required to close between 10pm and 5am.
In Lancashire, a ban on two households mixing indoors will continue in Preston, Pendle and part of Blackburn.
In parts of both Blackburn and Pendle residents will continue to be advised to avoid mixing with anyone from another household.
In the North East, South Tyneside, Sunderland, Gateshead and Newcastle upon Tyne have been added to the watchlist as areas of enhanced support, as mentioned above.
Hartlepool has been added to the watchlist as an area of concern.
Middlesbrough remains on the watchlist an area of concern.
It’s good news for some areas, as easing of restrictions in Leicester will continue, with more businesses being able to reopen in the city from Tuesday next week.
North Norfolk, South Norfolk, West Norfolk, Kings Lynn, Great Yarmouth, Breckland, Norwich and Broadland are de-escalated from areas of enhanced support to an area of concern.
Swindon is de-escalated from an area of enhanced support to an area of concern.
Easing of business restrictions in Leicester
Some business will be able to reopen in Leicester from Tuesday, September 15, which will now be subject to the same business restrictions as the majority of England.
Casinos, skating rinks, bowling alleys, exhibition halls, conference centres and indoor play areas – including soft play areas – will be able to lawfully reopen from Tuesday next week.
Guidance will be updated and socially distanced indoor performances will be able to resume, and remaining restrictions on certain close contact services – treatments on the face, such as eyebrow threading or make-up application – will be lifted.
The ban on inter-household gatherings in private homes and gardens remains. The next review of these measures will take place by 24 September.