The British government said on Wednesday more areas of England would be placed under the strictest Covid-19 restrictions as a highly infectious variant of the virus is spreading across the country.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the Midlands, the north east, parts of the north west and parts of the south west would be moved into Tier 4 from 00.01 on Thursday. Hospitality venues and non-essential shops are closed in tier four and households cannot mix.
"The NHS (health service) is under very significant pressure; there are over 21,000 people in hospital with coronavirus right now," he told lawmakers.
"Unfortunately this new variant is now spreading across most of England and cases are doubling fast. It is therefore necessary to apply tier four to a wider area."
Hancock said three quarters of England's population would be in the top tier from Thursday.