Almost all parts of England will face tough coronavirus curbs with a ban on households mixing indoors and restrictions on hospitality after December 2.
Only the Isle of Wight, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have been placed in the lowest Tier 1 set of restrictions, with people in all other parts of England set to face more serious limits to their freedom.
Large swathes of the Midlands, North East and North West are in the most restrictive Tier 3, but London will be in Tier 2.
Some 23.3 million people – 41.5% of the population of England – will face the most stringent restrictions, while 32 million people – 57.3% of the population – will be in the second tier.
Just over 1% of the population – 714,000 people – will be placed in Tier 1.
Liverpool, which had been in Tier 3 before the lockdown, will move to Tier 2 in recognition of efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said “these are not easy decisions, but they have been made according to the best clinical advice”.
He told MPs: “Thanks to the shared sacrifice of everyone in recent weeks, in following the national restrictions, we have been able to start to bring the virus back under control and slow its growth, easing some of the pressure on the NHS.
“We will do this by returning to a regional tiered approach, saving the toughest measures for the parts of the country where prevalence remains too high.”
The chaotic handling of the announcement saw an online postcode checker allowing people to check which tier their area would be in launch before the official details were released. However it soon crashed.
In Tier 1, the rule of six applies indoors and outdoors, people are urged to work from home if they can and pubs are limited to table service.
The majority of England will be in Tier 2, where the restrictions mean a ban on households mixing indoors and pubs, and restaurants only able to sell alcohol with a “substantial meal”.
Tier 3 measures mean a ban on households mixing, except in limited circumstances such as parks.
Bars and restaurants will be limited to takeaway or delivery services and people will be advised to avoid travelling outside their area.
Areas placed in Tier 3 from December 2 include:
– In the North East: Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Stockton-on-Tees, Redcar and Cleveland, Darlington, Sunderland, South Tyneside, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside and County Durham.
– In the North West: Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Blackpool and Blackburn with Darwen.
– In Yorkshire and The Humber: The Humber, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire.
– In the West Midlands: Birmingham and Black Country, Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent, Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull
– In the East Midlands: Derby and Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire, Leicester and Leicestershire and Lincolnshire.
– In the South East: Slough, Kent and Medway.
– In the South West: Bristol, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset.
Mr Hancock told the Commons: “I understand the impact that these measures will have but they are necessary given the scale of the threat that we face.”
The Confederation of British Industry said some businesses would be left “hanging by a thread” as a result of the restrictions.
The CBI’s UK policy director Matthew Fell said: “For many businesses in England, going into toughened tiers while waiting for a vaccine will feel like suspended animation.
“Some parts of the economy, such as retail, can begin to re-open and look towards a recovery. It gives our high streets a chance to rescue some of the vital festive trading period.
“But for other businesses, the ongoing restrictions in Tiers 2 and 3 will leave their survival hanging by a thread. Hospitality will remain frozen.”
London mayor Sadiq Khan welcomed the Tier 2 rating for the capital but added: “There must be no complacency – we know how quickly this virus can spread.”