Millions more face virus restrictions in northern England

LONDON (AFP) – Millions more people in northern England face stricter coronavirus rules next week, the government said yesterday as it perseveres with a localised response to surging case rates.

From Monday, nearly 2.4 million residents in five districts of West Yorkshire, including in the city of Leeds, will be barred from socialising with other households indoors.

The public has also been told to avoid unnecessary travel.

The Department of Health said the measures were needed as infection rates in West Yorkshire were “among the highest in the country” and rising rapidly.

The move means more than 11 million people or about a fifth of England’s population will be under the tightest restrictions from next week.

Most of the areas in the “very high” category of the government’s three-tier COVID-19 alert system are in northern and central parts of the country.

Nottingham became the latest city to enter the highest tier yesterday.

Britain has already been the worst-hit in Europe by the pandemic, as more than 45,000 people have died within 28 days after testing positive. Case rates are spiralling again after a lull, tracking the situation elsewhere in Europe.

Cases are doubling every nine days and rising in all age groups and regions, according to the ongoing study by Imperial College London and Ipsos MORI.