Millions of people will move into Tier 4 today after those already under the tightest coronavirus restrictions celebrated a Covid Christmas any way they could.
Sussex, Oxfordshire, Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire will move into Tier 4, created in response to a variant of Covid-19 discovered in the UK, from Saturday.
The parts of Essex still in Tier 2, Waverley in Surrey and Hampshire including Portsmouth and Southampton, but with the exception of the New Forest, will also move into the toughest tier.
The additional six million going into Tier 4 takes the total number of people under the toughest restrictions to 24 million – 43 per cent of England’s population. A further 24.8 million will be in Tier 3.
It comes after many had to make the most of a Christmas Day already under Tier 4 restrictions in London and the south east.
Two women brave the elements to have a socially distanced Christmas lunch, with all the trimmings, on Clapham Common in London which is in Tier 4
Four-year-old Archie receives gifts, socially distanced, from his grandparents in Sutton Park, in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham on Christmas Day. Birmingham will remain in Tier 3
Some headed to beach in Brighton to get some fresh air ahead of moving up a Tier today. Brighton and Hove is moving in Tier 4 on Boxing Day
Sussex, Oxfordshire, Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire will move into Tier 4, created in response to a variant of Covid-19 discovered in the UK, from Saturday
Photographs showed groups meeting to eat their Christmas dinners on Clapham Common in London while others headed to beach in Brighton to get some fresh air ahead of moving up a Tier to 4 today.
Meanwhile in other parts of the country some families were able to visit their elderly relatives in care homes to celebrate festivities. Some families in Birmingham were pictured meeting grandparents in parks to exchange gifts.
It came as England recorded 32,725 coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, according to the latest figures, as festive bubbles were cancelled for millions.
Nationwide figures weren’t released today as the devolved nations’ tallies aren’t counted on the Government dashboard over Christmas.
Families turned out for the traditional Christmas Day swimming on the beach yesterday in Brighton. The area will move into Tier 4 today
The infections announced today means there has been a 14 per cent increase in cases in a week even without the full figures.
But in England 570 deaths were recorded – bringing the national tally since March up to 70,195.
In Tier 4, no household mixing is allowed, though one person can meet one other person outside in a public space, while all non-essential shops and businesses must close, including personal care and indoor entertainment.
Nobody can enter or leave Tier 4 areas and residents must not stay overnight away from home.
Meanwhile, Bristol, Gloucestershire, Somerset including the North Somerset council area, Swindon, the Isle of Wight, the New Forest and Northamptonshire plus Cheshire and Warrington are moving up to Tier 3.
Mary Orme (right) and her son Michael McKimm embrace their mother and grandmother, Rose McKimm, during a Christmas Day visit at Aspen Hill Village care home in Hunslet, Leeds. The care home is able to host almost 50 visits for family members this Christmas after running successful trials of lateral flow testing for coronavirus
Some families in Birmingham were pictured meeting grandparents in parks to exchange gifts. This family does so while socially distancing
Swimmers take a Christmas Day dip at Blackroot Pool at Sutton Park, in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham. The area will remain in Tier 3
Photographs showed groups meeting to eat their Christmas dinners on Clapham Common in London today as the city is in Tier 4
Four-year-old Archie receives gifts, socially distanced, from his grandparents in Sutton Park, in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham
Many turned out for the traditional Christmas Day swimming on the beach today in Brighton today before the city moves into Tier 4 restrictions today
Albie, Clive and their father Hudson take a Christmas Day dip in the sea at Saltdean, East Sussex, today. The area will move into Tier 4 from today
In the ‘very high’ alert level, no household mixing is allowed indoors or outdoors, except in parks and public gardens.
All hospitality is closed, except for takeaways and deliveries, and accommodation and entertainment venues must shut.
Cornwall and Herefordshire are moving up to Tier 2 from December 26, where the main restrictions are no household mixing allowed indoors, but the ‘rule of six’ applies outdoors.
Hospitality venues must close unless serving substantial meals with drinks, while large sport and entertainment events are allowed but with a very limited audience.
The Isles of Scilly, which has a population of just 2,000 people, will be the only area of England remaining in Tier 1.
In the lowest alert level, the ‘rule of six’ must apply indoors and outdoors, while there must be table service in hospitality venues, with last orders at 10pm and closing time at 11pm.