More than a quarter of the UK population will be living under extra coronavirus restrictions as new measures were announced for Leeds, parts of Wales and more towns in the north west of England.
The Government confirmed a ban on households mixing in each others’ homes will come into force in Wigan, Stockport, Blackpool and Leeds from 0001 on Saturday morning.
Residents in those areas are also advised not to meet people outside their household or bubble in any other settings including bars, shops or parks.
The decision was made by Health Secretary Matt Hancock following discussions with local officials, the Joint Biosecurity Centre, Public Health England, NHS Test and Trace and chief medical officer for England Professor Chris Whitty.
Mr Hancock said: “We continue to see an acceleration of Covid-19 cases across the country, especially in the North West and the North East.
“Working alongside our scientific and public health experts and local leaders, we are prepared to take swift and decisive action to reduce transmission of the virus and protect communities.
“I recognise the burden and impact these additional measures have on our daily lives but we must act collectively and quickly to bring down infections.”
The seven-day rolling average of cases in Blackpool has risen from 48.8 per 100,000 a week ago to 69.6 per 100,000 on Friday, the Government’s coronavirus dashboard shows.
The latest seven-day Covid-19 rate in Leeds was found to be 113.3 per 100,000 people, according to Government figures, while Leeds director of public health Victoria Eaton said there was an 8.4% positive test rate.
The dashboard also shows the seven-day Covid-19 rate in Wigan has risen to 122.6 per 100,000 people, while in Stockport it is up to 77.4 per 100,000 people.
In Wales, Cardiff and Swansea will go into local lockdown from 6pm on Sunday, the Welsh Government has confirmed.
The rate of new cases per 100,000 population in Cardiff rose to 46.1 during the seven days to September 22, up from 24.8 the previous week.
In Swansea, it rose from 19.4 to 63.6 and in Carmarthenshire – the local authority covering Llanelli – it was up from 12.2 to 57.7 during the same period.
People will not be able to enter or leave the areas without a reasonable excuse. They will not be able to meet indoors with anyone they do not live with, with extended households suspended.
Restrictions are already in force across large swathes of north-west England, West Yorkshire, the North East and the Midlands, as well as parts of west Scotland.
And a ban on households mixing indoors was extended across Northern Ireland earlier this week.
It means an estimated 17.5 million people across the UK will be living under additional coronavirus measures by Sunday evening, on top of those announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
In Leeds, council leader Judith Blake said she realised no-one welcomed the extra measures, adding: “The safety of the city and the public simply has to come first and we have now reached a point where we all need to take additional steps to contain the spread of this terrible virus within our communities.”
At an online news conference, reporters were told these measures were expected to be in place all winter.
Tom Riordan, Leeds City Council chief executive, said: “What we are trying to do is give a simple message – you shouldn’t really mix with other households.”
The number of Covid-19 cases is rising in London. To avoid further restrictions, it is important Londoners follow new national measures to stop the spread and continue to wash their hands, wear face coverings and stay two metres apart where possible. https://t.co/yJrhg686QX pic.twitter.com/AExdgGWgUU
— London Councils (@londoncouncils) September 25, 2020
Meanwhile, London is being made an “area of concern”, according to London Councils, a cross-party organisation which represents all 32 boroughs and the City of London.
No additional measures will be taken in the city, but testing capacity will be boosted to closely monitor the growth of the virus.
London Councils urged residents to follow the new Government restrictions introduced on Thursday.
It said rising cases were a “stark reminder that now is time for all Londoners to pull together and take action to keep themselves, their families and their communities safe, and to ensure that London’s economy is protected”.