Stricter Covid restrictions come into force in parts of England and Wales today - but what is changing?

Millions more people in parts of England will face stricter Covid restrictions from today (Friday 23 October), as several areas are moved into higher alert tiers.

Greater Manchester’s population of 2.8 million are now subject to England’s highest level of restrictions, after joining Liverpool City Region and Lancashire in Tier 3.

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Additionally, 3.1 million people in Wales are being ordered to stay at home as a national “firebreak” lockdown begins for a period of 17 days, which will see pubs, restaurants, hotels and non-essential shops close until 9 November.

‘Very high’ Covid alert

Three regions of England are now under the ‘very high’ Covid alert level (Tier 3), as a result of climbing infection rates.

In these areas, mixing socially indoors is banned in all settings, unless you are part of the same household or support bubble. This ban includes private homes, pubs and restaurants, leisure and entertainment venues, and places of worship.

People must also not meet with anyone outside of their household, or support bubble, in a private garden or in most outdoor public venues.

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However, it is permitted to meet family and friends who you do not live with, or have not formed a support bubble with, in groups of up to six or less in certain outdoor public spaces. These include:

Parks, beaches, countryside, forestsPublic gardens (whether or not you pay to enter them), allotmentsOutdoor sports courts and facilities, and playgrounds

Pubs and bars must also close in Tier 3 areas, unless they serve substantial meals, such as a main lunchtime or evening meal.

Possible further restrictions on hospitality, leisure, entertainment or personal care sectors may also be introduced, depending on discussions between central and local government.

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However, retail, schools, universities and places of worship will remain open, but will be subject to the further restrictions on social contact that apply in this tier.

People are also advised against travelling into or out of the area.

More regions to follow

South Yorkshire will be the next region to move into tier 3 restrictions from 00.01am on Saturday 24 October, bringing the total number of people living under England's tightest rules to more than seven million.

Rising infection rates will also mean Coventry, Stoke and Slough will move into the ‘high’ Covid alert level (Tier 2) at 00.01am on Saturday.

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Talks are also ongoing between the government and local leaders in Nottinghamshire and West Yorkshire which are both at risk of being moved into Tier 3 due to the high number of Covid cases.

Elsewhere, the Scottish government is due to announce its own five tier alert system of Covid restrictions, which will take effect on 2 November.