Staffordshire will join Stoke-on-Trent to head into the toughest Tier 4 restrictions as fears grow over the spread of the new coronavirus super-strain.
The county will effectively be back in lockdown with non-essential shops and leisure facilities closed from midnight.
Action is being taken in an urgent bid to save lives and stop the under-pressure hospitals being overwhelmed with Covid-19 patients.
The news comes as North Staffordshire’s infection rate has plateaued over the festive season but the south of the county has seen a rise in cases.
Latest Public Health England figures show Staffordshire had an infection rate of 267.1 per 100,000 in the seven days to December 26.
This is just below the West Midlands at 270 and significantly short of the national average at 386.9 after London and the South East has been badly impacted by a mutant strain of coronavirus.
However, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has decided to take a regional approach and has lumped Staffordshire in with Birmingham which has seen its infection rate spike over the festive season thanks to the mutant form of coronavirus.
Mr Hancock said: “Mr Hancock said: “We must act to suppress the virus now. The NHS is under very significant pressure. The threat to life from this virus is real.
“It is therefore necessary for large parts of the West Midlands to go into lockdown.”
Already nearly half of England are in the top Tier 4 – with an extra six million people moved there from Boxing Day.
The change means three quarters of the country are now in Tier 4.
The latest infection rates for Staffordshire up to December 26:
- Newcastle borough – 214.8 per 100,000
- Stafford borough – 255.7 per 100,000
- Staffordshire Moorlands – 217.4 per 100,000
- East Staffordshire – 344.9 per 100,000
- Cannock Chase – 314.6 per 100,000
- South Staffordshire – 301.5 per 100,000
- Tamworth – 193 per 100,000
- Lichfield – 275.1 per 100,000
What are the Tier 4 rules in England?
The Tier 4 rules will be essentially the same as the blanket lockdown that England was under in November.
- Stay at home. You must not leave your home unless you have a “reasonable excuse” such as work, education, essential shopping or medical appointments
- In general, you must not meet socially. However, you can exercise or meet in a public outdoor place with people you live with, your support bubble or with one other person
- You must not meet indoors socially with any other household, unless part of your support bubble
- Clinically extremely vulnerable people are advised not to work if they cannot work from home
- All shops deemed non-essential by the Government must close
- Hairdressers and barbers must close
Indoor entertainment venues must close
Gyms and indoor swimming pools, indoor sports courts and dance studios must close
These areas moving into Tier 4 from tomorrow
- Leicester City
- Leicestershire (Oadby and Wigston, Harborough, Hinckley and Bosworth, Blaby, Charnwood, North West Leicestershire, Melton)
- Lincolnshire (City of Lincoln, Boston, South Kesteven, West Lindsey, North Kesteven, South Holland, East Lindsey)
- Northamptonshire (Corby, Daventry, East Northamptonshire, Kettering, Northampton, South Northamptonshire, Wellingborough)
- Derby and Derbyshire (Derby, Amber Valley, South Derbyshire, Bolsover, North East Derbyshire, Chesterfield, Erewash, Derbyshire Dales, High Peak)
- Nottingham and Nottinghamshire (Gedling, Ashfield, Mansfield, Rushcliffe, Bassetlaw, Newark and Sherwood, Nottinghamshire, Broxtowe)
- Birmingham and Black Country (Dudley, Birmingham, Sandwell, Walsall, Wolverhampton)
- Warwickshire (Rugby, Nuneaton and Bedworth, Warwick, North Warwickshire, Stratford-upon-Avon)
- Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent (East Staffordshire, Stafford, South Staffordshire, Cannock Chase, Lichfield, Staffordshire Moorlands, Newcastle under Lyme, Tamworth, Stoke-on-Trent)
- Lancashire (Burnley, Pendle, Blackburn with Darwen, Ribble Valley, Blackpool, Preston, Hyndburn, Chorley, Fylde, Lancaster, Rossendale, South Ribble, West Lancashire, Wyre)
- Cheshire and Warrington (Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester, Warrington)
- Cumbria (Eden, Carlisle, South Lakeland, Barrow-in-Furness, Copeland, Allerdale)
- Greater Manchester (Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, Wigan)
- Tees Valley (Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, Stockton-on-Tees )
- North East (County Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside, Sunderland)
- Gloucestershire (Gloucester, Forest of Dean, Cotswolds, Tewkesbury, Stroud, Cheltenham)
- Somerset Council (Mendip, Sedgemoor, Somerset West and Taunton, South Somerset)
- Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole
- Isle of Wight
- New Forest
These areas going into Tier 3
- Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin
- Worcestershire (Bromsgrove, Malvern Hills, Redditch, Worcester, Wychavon, Wyre Forest)
- Liverpool City Region (Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, Sefton, Wirral, St Helens)
- York & North Yorkshire (Scarborough, Hambleton, Richmondshire, Selby, Craven, Ryedale, Harrogate, City of York)
- Bath and North East Somerset
- Devon, Plymouth, Torbay (East Devon, Exeter, Mid Devon, North Devon, South Hams, Teignbridge, Torridge, West Devon, Plymouth, Torbay)