Covid: Millions more face stricter coronavirus restrictions across parts of UK from Boxing Day

  • Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Libby Wiener

Millions more people across the UK woke up to harsher coronavirus restrictions on Boxing Day.

New tier changes come into force in England, and many areas will move into the strict Tier 4, lockdowns will be introduced in Scotland and Northern Ireland, while restrictions that were eased for Christmas Day in Wales will be re-imposed on Saturday.

Those in the strict Tier 4 in England will increase by six million to 24 million people, representing 43% of the population, in response to a more transmissible variant being discovered in the UK.

(PA Graphics) Credit: PA Graphics

It comes after the government said a further 570 died within 28 days of testing positive for the virus as of Christmas Day, while there were a further 32,725 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK.

The new measures are being imposed against a backdrop of increasing infections, hospital admissions and a new more contagious variant in the UK which was announced last week and, according to French media, has been detected in a French man in Tours who lives in England.

Home Secretary Priti Patel refused to rule out a third national lockdown, as coronavirus cases continue to surge.

Speaking on Saturday morning, she said: "The government rules nothing out in terms of preventative measures when it comes to stopping the spread of coronavirus."

Meanwhile, she did not discourage people from heading to the shops for the Boxing Day sales.

"When going out shopping, into a retail environment, clearly we follow the tiering advice...but people must exercise due diligence and care," she added.

Areas moving to Tier 4 are Sussex, Oxfordshire, Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire, parts of Essex not yet in the highest tier, Waverley in Surrey and Hampshire, with the exception of the New Forest.

Tier 4 restrictions include a warning to stay at home, a limit on household mixing to two people outdoors and force the closure of many shops, hairdressers and gyms.

The measures come on top of Tier 3 restrictions such as the closure of pubs and restaurants except for takeaways and deliveries.

Bristol, Gloucestershire, Somerset including the North Somerset council area, Swindon, the Isle of Wight, the New Forest and Northamptonshire, as well as Cheshire and Warrington, will all be escalated to Tier 3.

Elsewhere, Cornwall and Herefordshire move from Tier 1 to Tier 2.

Mainland Scotland will enter Level 4 restrictions from Saturday, with the Scottish Government intending the increased measures to last for three weeks.

In Northern Ireland, the first week measures are the toughest yet, with a form of curfew in operation from 8pm, shops closed from that time and all indoor and outdoor gatherings prohibited until 6am.

Non-essential retail will close throughout the next six weeks, as will close-contact services, while hospitality outlets will be limited to takeaway services.