Millions of people across Britain are to be placed under the highest level of COVID-19 restrictions from midnight, the government has confirmed.
Tier-4 restrictions will apply to parts of the Midlands, North East, North West and some parts of the South West, said Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
Other areas such as Liverpool, Exeter and North Yorkshire have been moved up a level to Tier-3.
Hancock said that the recent surge in infections had made tougher restrictions necessary across the country.
More than 53,000 cases of COVID-19 were recorded in the UK yesterday, the highest number recorded since mass testing began, with a further 414 deaths of people who tested positive for the virus.
The total number of people in the UK officially who have died from the virus has now topped 71,000.
The new rules will be another blow to businesses struggling to survive the impact of COVID-19.
In a Tier-4 area, all non-essential shops, beauty salons and hairdressers must close while in Tier-3 pubs and restaurants can only serve takeaways.
Britain earlier gave approval for the new AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccine to be administered to the public but Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that this would not be enough in itself to stop the virus.
He told the BBC that 60% of new cases were the new variant of the virus, which the government wasn’t “able to budget for”.
“It’s spreading rapidly from the places where it’s started in, in the east of London and in Kent. And alas, it’s starting to seed across the country.”
He added: “There are plenty of reasons for people to be optimistic about the spring, but we must focus on fighting the disease for now.”