Almost a fifth of England’s population will soon be living under the country’s toughest Covid-19 rules.
Nottinghamshire entered tier 3 on Friday morning, while West Yorkshire will move up to the highest alert level from Monday as the number of patients in hospital continues to rise nationwide.
It will take the total number of people in the highest level of restrictions to just over 11 million – 19.6% of the population.
And with the Tees Valley and the West Midlands also expecting to be moved up to tier 3 soon, millions more people could soon be under the strictest level of restrictions.
Local authority sources in the West Midlands said the “very high” alert level could be imposed “by the end of next week or the start of the following week”.
Meanwhile, leaders in the Tees Valley area said the government told them it intended to raise their area into tier 3 – although no agreement had yet been reached.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said leisure and sports facilities, such as gyms, will be allowed to stay open in West Yorkshire when it moves to tier 3 on Monday.
It added more than a dozen regions will move from the lowest to the middle tier (tier 2) of restrictions on Saturday.
These include East Riding of Yorkshire, Kingston-Upon-Hull, North East Lincolnshire, North Lincolnshire, Dudley, Staffordshire, Telford, the Wrekin, Amber Valley, Bolsover, Derbyshire Dales, Derby City, South Derbyshire, the whole of High Peak, Charnwood, Luton and Oxford.
It comes as the latest data from NHS England showed the number of hospital beds in England occupied by confirmed coronavirus patients had more than doubled in two weeks from 4,105 on October 13 to 8,595 on Tuesday.
The new data, published on Thursday, also showed there were 743 Covid-19 patients in mechanical ventilation beds in England on Tuesday, up from 560 on the same day the previous week.