More parts of England have moved into Tier 3 meaning nearly 70% of the population are living under the toughest restrictions.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said earlier this week that parts of the East and the South East of England would be moved up to the most severe measures.
Mr Hancock told the Commons that the following areas would be moved up to Tier 3 on Saturday morning at one minute past midnight:
- Central Bedfordshire
- Milton Keynes
- Bracknell Forest
- Windsor and Maidenhead
- West Berkshire
- The rest of Hertfordshire not already in Tier 3 (Dacorum, East Hertfordshire, North Hertfordshire, St Albans, Stevenage and Welwyn Hatfield)
- Surrey (except Waverley)
- Hastings and Rother
The move means a total of 38 million people are now living under Tier 3 restrictions – 68% of England’s population.
In Tier 3 areas, pubs and restaurants have to close except for takeaway, while indoor entertainment and tourist venues are also shut.
Bristol and North Somerset have dropped from Tier 3 to Tier 2.
Herefordshire has been moved down from Tier 2 to Tier 1.
Some 30% of the population are now in Tier 2, with just 2% in Tier 1.
More areas have been moved into Tier 3 as the R number in the UK is estimated to have gone up to between 1.1 and 1.2, according to the SAGE group of government advisers.
The growth rate of COVID-19 is therefore estimated to be between 1% and 4%.
It comes amid fears a new variant of the virus is accelerating the spread of the disease.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson was reported to have held an unscheduled meeting of ministers on Friday evening amid “growing concern” about the threat posed by the mutant strain – which is spreading fastest in South East England.
Earlier on Friday, Mr Johnson told people forming “Christmas bubbles” that it is “vital” they minimise contact with others over the festive period.
In a message on his Twitter account, the PM said: “If you are forming a Christmas Bubble, it’s vital that from today, you minimise contact with people from outside your household.
“Everyone must take personal responsibility to avoid passing the virus on to loved ones this Christmas.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said easing restrictions is a mistake.