Health Secretary Matt Hancock also said more than 1,000 cases of a new variant of the virus had been identified, mainly in southeast England where the variant may be associated with a rapid rise in infection levels.
“We do not know the extent to which this is because of the new variant, but no matter its cause, we have to take swift and decisive action,” he said.
The toughened system followed directly after the end of the country’s second nationwide lockdown, which lasted four weeks.
When it ended, over 40 percent of citizens were placed straight into Tier 3, the highest tier of restrictions.
London, whose 9 million people and world-leading financial centre make it the engine of the British economy, is currently in Tier 2, the second-highest tier of restrictions.
The key differences between Tier 2 (high alert) and Tier 3 (very high alert) are that hospitality venues in Tier 2 may stay open, subject to an 11 p.m. curfew if they are operating as restaurants, and pubs can serve alcohol with substantial meals.
In Tier 3, however, pubs and other hospitality venues must close unless they are providing takeaway, click-and-collect, drive-through, or delivery services.
Fight to Stay AfloatThe business sector has called for support in its fight to stay afloat.
“Those businesses forced to close must be given the support they need to survive into the New Year,” he said.
‘Completely Destroy’ PubsThere has also been a strong reaction to the tightened restrictions from the already very hard hit hospitality sector.
“It is cruel on hardworking publicans doing all they can to support their communities and invest in implementing all the required safety measures,” she added.
“Especially as the government’s own evidence shows pubs are safe.”
London was one of the first parts of the country to be hit by the CCP virus during the initial peak between March and May, but until recently a second wave has been more concentrated in northern and central England.
Data published last week by Public Health England showed case rates per 100,000 people in London stood at 191.8, putting the city ahead of regions that have stricter rules in place such as the West Midlands.
On the issue of the new virus variant, Hancock said there was currently nothing to suggest that it was likely to cause more serious disease or that it would not respond to a vaccine.