Greater Lincolnshire will remain under the tier 3 toughest coronavirus restrictions in the latest announcement by Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
Neighbours in Nottinghamshire, including Newark, as well as both Hull and the East Riding will remain in tier 3, while Peterborough in Cambridgeshire was also moved up to the highest tier.
Lincolnshire, North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire had been hoping to go down a tier, but health bosses said it was unlikely due to infection rates staying above the national average.
In the recent seven day period to December 16 just two districts in Lincolnshire saw a decrease in their infection rates — Lincoln and North Kesteven. However, both North and North East Lincolnshire also saw their infection rates drop.
Speaking to the House of Commons on Thursday Mr Hancock said across the world cases were rising. On Wednesday 25,161 cases were reported. And there are 18,038 people in hospital with coronavirus in the UK.
The vast majority of England areas saw no changes to the tier system.
He expanded tier 3 across “a much wider area of the east and southeast of England” including Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Peterborough and the whole of Hertfordshire.
Only Bristol, North Somerset and Herefordshire went down a tier.
He said: “We must keep suppressing this virus and this isn’t just a matter of a government of this house, it’s a matter for every single person.
“These are always the most difficult months for people’s health and for the NHS, and especially with the vaccine already here we must be cautious as we accelerate the vaccine deployment as per the winter plan.
“We’ve come so far. We mustn’t blow it now.”
The country’s tiers will be reviewed again on December 31.
The decision comes ahead of a Christmas relaxation which will allow up to three households to mix for a maximum of five days from December 23 to 27..
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson refused to reverse the decision, however, told the nation that it was their personal responsibility to ensure they had a safe Christmas.
“While it would not be right to criminalise people who have made plans and simply want to spend time with their loved ones, we’re asking you to think hard, and in detail about the days ahead, and whether you can do more to protect yourself and others,” he said.
“We’re keeping the laws the same, but we all want to send the same message, a smaller Christmas is going to be a safer Christmas, and a shorter Christmas is a safer Christmas.”
More than 34 million people — or 61% of England’s population — had previously been living under tier three rules, the highest level of restrictions, including large parts of the Midlands, Yorkshire, the North East and the North West.
On Wednesday, they were joined by London and parts of Essex and Hertfordshire following a spike in infection rates.
Some areas in the north of England, including Greater Manchester and Teeside were hoping to be downgraded to tier two, however this did not happen.
Health bosses also confirmed Wednesday that some of the worst tier 2 areas could also be eligible for community testing in a bid to prevent them from moving to tier 3 in future.
Under tier 3 (very high) restrictions:
- Retail is allowed to reopen, as is hairdressers, gyms and places of worship.
- Hospitality settings such as hotels, bars, restaurants and cafes must stay closed but can continue to serve takeaways, click-and-collect, drive-through or delivery services.
- Indoor entertainment and tourist venues such as casinos, bingo halls, bowling alleys, cinemas and skating rinks must also stay shut.
- Large outdoor shows such as live music or performances should not take place, unless they are drive-in events.
- Indoor attractions within zoos, aquariums and theme parks also have to close.
- Organised outdoor sport can continue, but higher-risk contact activity isn’t recommended and there should be no public attendance.
- Leisure and sport facilities can stay open, but aren’t allowed group exercise classes and should close saunas and steam rooms.
- Tier 3 does not allow people to meet socially with someone they don’t live with in most outdoor settings, including private gardens.
- Groups of more than six people should not gather in places such as parks, beaches and heritage sites.
- People can travel to venues that are open, but government guidance is to make only essential journeys and to avoid travelling to other parts of the country where possible.