Large areas of south-east England shifted to the highest Covid-19 bars

London was moved to the top tier on Wednesday and will be followed by nearby counties.

Photographer: Betty Laura Zapata / Bloomberg

Large areas of southeast England will move into the highest level of coronavirus restrictions since Saturday following an increase in infections, the UK government said.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said an increase in Covid-19 cases meant he had no choice but to move more counties around London to level 3 from level 2 – meaning pubs, restaurants , bars and indoor entertainment closed.

London was moved to the top tier on Wednesday and now the nearby counties of Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Hertfordshire, most of Surrey, and parts of Hampshire will continue. Things rose 46% in the south-east of England last week, Hancock told the House of Commons on Thursday.

Most regions already in phase 3, including Greater Manchester in the north west of England, will remain in that brake. But the southwestern city of Bristol and north Somerset will move down to level 2, while West Midlands in Herefordshire will fall to the bottom 1 tier.

Hancock said people must continue to be “vigilant” with the UK prescribing coronavirus vaccine. “We’ve come so far, we can’t blow it now,” he told MPs.