More towns and cities added to tier 2 lockdown from Saturday

Stoke-on-Trent, Coventry and Slough will be moved up to tier two restrictions from this weekend, the health secretary has confirmed.

Shortly after midnight on Saturday, the areas’ risk status will be changed to ‘high’, as cases continue to double every two weeks.

This means households will be banned from mixing in any indoor setting, including pubs, restaurants or private homes. Residents can meet friends from other households outside, as long as they adhere to the rule of six.

Matt Hancock told the Commons that Warrington may also have to move up to tier three – the strictest measures – amid increasing infection rates in the area. He said formal talks have begun with local leaders.

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The health secretary told MPs on Thursday: ‘Unfortunately, we’re seeing rising rates of infection in Stoke-on-Trent, in Coventry and in Slough.

‘In all of these areas, there are over 100 positive cases per 100,000 people. Cases are doubling around every fortnight and we’re seeing a concerning increase of cases among the over-60s.

‘So we’ve agreed in partnership with local leaders to move these areas into the high local alert level, coming into force at one minute past midnight on Saturday.’

The announcement comes after Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled a new package of support for hard-hit businesses in tier two areas.

Grants of £2,100 will soon be made available to firms in ‘high’ risk areas, in a move that the chancellor hoped would bail out hospitality and leisure venues who have seen takings plummet due to the ban on households mixing.

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