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Swathes of the south east of England have been plunged into Tier Three as coronavirus cases spiral, Matt Hancock has announced.
Large parts of Surrey, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire are set to be under tougher restrictions from midnight on Saturday, Mr Hancock announced.
Meanwhile Bristol and North Somerset will come out of Tier Three and into Tier Two, the MP said, as Herefordshire was placed into Tier One.
Speaking in the House of Commons, the Health Secretary said: "In the south east of England cases are up by 46% in the last week. Hospital admissions are up by a third.
"In the east of England cases are up two thirds, and hospital admissions are up by nearly half.
"It is therefore necessary to apply Tier Three measures to a much wider area of the South and South East of England."
Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Peterborough, the whole of Hertfordshire, Surrey with the exception of Waverley, Hastings and Rother, and Portsmouth, Gosport and Havant in Hampshire are all to be under the toughest rules.
The changes come into effect from one minute past midnight on Saturday, Mr Hancock said.
Mr Hancock added: "The best way to get out of [Tier Three] is to pull together and do everything they can to stop the spread of the virus".
The changes mean that millions of Brits will face tougher restrictions in the run up to Christmas.
Boris Johnson's Three Tier system came into play on December 2 following a national lockdown. This is the first official review, following an emergency change over the weekend.
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London and most of Essex had been informed they were to be shoved into Tier Three prior to today's announcement following spiralling infection rates.
All areas currently in Tier Three, including Manchester and all of the north east, will not move at this stage, Mr Hancock said today.
The Health Secretary revealed that there were 25,161 new cases on Wednesday, and 18,038 patients died in hospital having tested positive for the killer bug.
It comes after Boris Johnson came under mounting pressure to review his relaxation of the rules over Christmas.
The PM has urged Brits to have "smaller" celebrations this year as the five-day window for household mixing is set to come into force next week.
Critics have said that the "rash" decision to allow socialising will lead to more deaths and pressure on the NHS.
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